Agent Interview: Adam Friedstein of Anderson Literary Management - Writer's Digest

Agent Advice: Adam Friedstein of Anderson Literary Management

This installment features Adam Friedstein of Anderson Literary Management, LLC. He was previously at Trident Media Group. He is seeking: He primarily represents debut literary fiction, literary thrillers and suspense, young adult fiction, memoir, and narrative and serious nonfiction (politics, education, biographies and more).
Publish date:

“Agent Advice” (this installment featuring agent Adam Friedstein of Anderson Literary Management) is a series of quick interviews with literary agents and script agents who talk with Guide to Literary Agents about their thoughts on writing, publishing, and just about anything else. This series has more than 170 interviews so far with reps from great literary agencies. This collection of interviews is a great place to start if you are just starting your research on literary agents.

This installment features Adam Friedstein of Anderson Literary Management, LLC. He was previously at Trident Media Group.

He is seeking: He primarily represents debut literary fiction, literary thrillers and suspense, young adult fiction, memoir, and narrative and serious nonfiction (politics, education, biographies and more).

Image placeholder title

GLA: How did you become an agent?

AF: It wasn't my plan after getting my B.A. in Comparative Literature. I thought I was going to be a tweed-sporting academic, but I ended up moving to New York and using my only employable skill to get a job as a painter. It was a nice intellectual respite but I soon felt myself wanting to be involved with books as I had my whole life. Academia wasn't it, though—I wanted to be close to the writing process and have a hand in the dissemination of great books. I applied for an internship at Writers House and though I wasn't accepted, I went to work part time in their accounting department, and soon after in the foreign rights department at Harold Ober Associates. I realized then that I really did want to be an agent—to be involved in the first stages of the representation process, so I moved to Trident Media Group where I came to get excited about the relationships built with authors and the entrepreneurial aspect of agenting. when an opportunity to build my own list came along, I knew it was what I wanted, though I do own some tweed.

GLA: You seek literary fiction and even thrillers in a literary style. What draws you to literary writing? Is this your first love?

AF: What draws me to literary writing is a certain reverence for and inventiveness with language that's on par in resonance with the attention to the novel's arc and structure. There's a creative, artistic intent you could say, and great literary fiction can transmit truths no other writing can. My first love, though, was nonfiction, particularly philosophy and psychoanalysis. I spent a lot of time in middle school and high school devouring the likes Freud and Kant at the public library. As far as fiction goes, my first loves as a young Jewish boy from Massachusetts were Kafka and Elie Wiesel, so even my fiction tastes were historical bent.

GLA: Besides "good writing," what, specifically, are you seeking that never seems to land in the slush pile?

AF: I love the sport of pool, and hustler lore. I'd love to see a novel centered on that. I'd also love to see a narrative nonfiction book about the pool tables, bars, and halls of New York City. I'd also like to see a humorous novel about the transition from college to the workplace.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 2.57.50 PM

The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.

GLA: Some agents love the synopsis; some hate it. Where do you stand and why?

AF: I can understand both perspectives. I don't hate synopses, though I do prefer to experience a story for myself, especially if it's already piqued my interest with a well-written and creative pitch.

GLA: You're looking for "serious nonfiction." Does this mean any kind of nonfiction written by a qualified pro?

AF: Terms like "serious," or "literary" are pretty malleable terms in publishing, and memoir can be serious ... or not so serious. What I consider to be serious nonfiction are biographies, histories, extrapolated critical essays, travel books, etc. Books researched and written by authors with appropriate qualifications, sure. While I'm not that interested in celebrity memoirs or prescriptive dating and weight loss books, I am interested in pop science writing, idea books in technology, politics, education. Memoir, and pop culture books as well.

GLA: With memoir, do you like to see the full ms, or a proposal?

AF: If it was something came in that I wanted to see more of, I'd request a full manuscript rather than a proposal.

GLA: You seek YA. Any category within YA?

AF: I have never been a big sci-fi or fantasy guy. I do go for YA on the historical side. I like YA on the darker, older side as well—quirky stories that remind me of the pathos of adolescence in a creative way.

GLA: Will you be at any upcoming conferences where writers can meet/pitch you?

AF: Unfortunately I don't have anything planned at the moment, but I encourage authors to check out our website and submit to me via e-mail that way: adam[at]andersonliterary[dot]com.

GLA: Something personal about you writers may not know?

AF: Hm. I'm a trained jazz percussionist.

Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers Conferences:


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Fight or Flight

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's fighting time.


Vintage WD: 10 Rules for Suspense Fiction

John Grisham once admitted that this article from 1973 helped him write his thrillers. In it, author Brian Garfield shares his go-to advice for creating great suspense fiction.


The Chaotically Seductive Path to Persuasive Copy

In this article, author, writing coach, and copywriter David Pennington teaches you the simple secrets of excellent copywriting.

Grinnell_Literary Techniques

Using Literary Techniques in Narrative Journalism

In this article, author Dustin Grinnell examines Jon Franklin’s award-winning article Mrs. Kelly’s Monster to help writers master the use of literary techniques in narrative journalism.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 545

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a cleaning poem.


New Agent Alert: Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Literary Services

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Literary Services) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.


5 Tips for Writing Scary Stories and Horror Novels

Bestselling and award-winning author Simone St. James shares five tips for writing scary stories and horror novels that readers will love to fear.


On vs. Upon vs. Up On (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use on vs. upon vs. up on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.