Editors Blog

Interview with Literary Agent Erin Harris — On Her Move to Folio Literary

NEWS: Literary agent Erin Harris has moved from the Irene Skolnick Literary Agency to Folio Literary Management, where she will focus on growing their literary fiction list, in addition to representing book club fiction, YA, and select narrative nonfiction titles.

HOW TO SUBMIT: She is actively seeking submissions and can be reached at: eharris [at] foliolitmanagement.com.

GLA: First off, tell us about this exciting new move.

EH: I am so thrilled to be a part of the team at Folio Literary Management!  Folio is a full-service and forward-thinking agency that’s on the cutting-edge of publishing. To learn even more about us, writers can check out the July issue of Poets & Writers and visit our website: www.foliolit.com. Folio’s roster of novelists is impressive, and this year we are looking to add to it! One of my roles at the agency will be to champion debut literary fiction. Some of Folio’s current fiction authors include New York Times bestselling author Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain) and New York Times bestselling author and Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize nominee Eowyn Ivey (The Snow Child).

Folio also has a wonderful roster of literary authors who write narrative nonfiction, among them: New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Letts (The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse That Inspired a Nation) and New York Times bestselling author Quill Award nominee Charles Shields (Mockingbird and And So It Goes).

(How long should you wait before following up with an agent?)

Joining Folio’s list are some wonderful writers I’ve  worked with in the past: debut novelists Bryan Furuness, author of the forthcoming The Lost Episodes of Review Bryson (Dzanc/Black Lawrence Press) and Jennifer Laam, author of the forthcoming The Secret Daughter of the Tsar (St. Martin’s Press/Griffin); and nonfiction writers Carla Power, author of the forthcoming memoir If The Oceans Were Ink (Henry Holt/Times Books), and Executive Editor of The New Criterion David Yezzi, author of the forthcoming biography Anthony Hecht: Poet and the Age (St. Martin’s Press).

GLA: Does this mean you’ll be accepting different categories? Any changes?

EH: My focus will basically remain the same, but with a few minor changes, namely I WON’T be focusing on YA and middle grade fantasies. Literary fiction is my bailiwick. I also love book club fiction; historical fiction; literary suspense/noir/mystery/thriller; contemporary YA; and narrative nonfiction. But I can get more specific than that…

Regarding FICTION for adults, I’m especially interested in:

  • Novels set against the backdrop of another time, place, or culture.  I’m someone who believes fiction has much to teach us about history, psychology, and anthropology. (I’m a huge fan of Zadie Smith, Orhan Pamuk, Nicole Krauss, Chris Cleave, Sue Monk Kidd, Donald Ray Pollock, and Salman Rushdie.)
  • Novels that incorporate some kind of surreal or magical element. (I can’t get enough of novels in the vein of Karen Russell’s Swamplandia!, Téa Obrecht’s The Tiger’s Wife, and Karen Thomson Walker’s The Age of Miracles.)
  • Novels with mystery and suspense in their DNA, or ones with a noir aesthetic.  (Think: Gillian Flynn, Tana French, and Lawrence Block.)

Regarding YOUNG ADULT, I’m interested in:

  • Contemporary, voice-driven novels that approach the universal experience of being a teenager from a surprising or an unlikely perspective (Some favorite authors: John Green, David Levithan, and Peter Cameron).
  • Though I enjoy some paranormal romances (Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed, and Lauren Oliver’s Delirium), I’m currently shying away from representing anything involving angels, chimera, Greek gods, and dystopias. I am, however, open to YA books with highly original supernatural concepts or undertones.

Regarding NONFICTION:

  • I’m drawn to adventure narratives, particularly those in which physical and spiritual journeys become intertwined (Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild).
  • I also enjoy memoirs that illuminate another culture or explore cross-cultural conflict (Alexandra Fuller’s Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight, Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel).
  • I’m fascinated by “big idea” books that reveal underlying yet unexpected truths about our society (Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, Susan Cain’s Quiet).

Regardless of genre, I gravitate toward books that have both compelling concepts and impeccable, stop-you-in-your-tracks writing.  Give me a topic or an idea that I can’t wait to tell editors about – and that I can explain clearly and succinctly.  Give me prose that leaps off the page.  I’m a real sucker for sentences that demand to be read aloud. Also, I should mention that I love bad-ass female protagonists across the board.

(How much should an outside edit cost writers?)

GLA: Will your move affect how quickly you reply to queries?

EH: Due to the volume of queries I receive, I can only respond to queries in the affirmative.  If I’m interested, I will request more material.  I do read all of my queries, and I consider them carefully.  Your submission should include:

  1. A brief description of your project
  2. Your author bio: please let me know about any publications, awards, residencies, schooling, professional or personal contacts that may be relevant.
  3. The first ten pages of your manuscript or nonfiction proposal

GLA: Will you be at any upcoming writers conferences?

EH: Indeed!  You can find me here:

1.    Hook, Line, and Sinker (October 22-24, 2012)
2.    Backspace (November 1-2, 2012)
3.    Unicorn Writers’ Conference (March 9, 2013)
4.    Wilkes University Low Residency Program  (January 10-12, 2013)
5.    Grub Street’s The Muse and the Marketplace (May 2013)

GLA: Is there anything else you’d like writers to know about you?

EH: I am a hands-on agent, and I often work with my writers in an editorial capacity.  I have an MFA in Creative Writing from the New School, a degree I pursued in order to become a more effective editor and compassionate literary advocate.  I will also help writers with publicity and platform-building.  To that end, I co-curate H.I.P. Reading Series, and I’m a member of Women’s Media Group and PEN American Center.

 

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