Getting to Know All About: Agent Barbara Poelle - Writer's Digest

Getting to Know All About: Agent Barbara Poelle

Agent Barbara Poelle interviews writer/client Lauren DeStefano
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Barbara Poelle is an agent with the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, representing thrillers, literary suspense, historical romances, humorous/platform driven nonfiction, and upmarket fiction.

Barbara’s co-agent, Irene Goodman, offers manuscript critiques on eBay every month, starting on the first day of each month, with all proceeds going to charity. Click on the link for more details on these critiques and charity auctions.

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Barbara says: "I have several conferences back to back this spring and summer, and I will be meeting literally hundreds of potential clients and reading thousands of pages. I spend all of that time trying to find the right fit for myself, but I never truly take the time to let the potential clients get to know me. In order to prepare those of you that I will be meeting in Massachusettes, Pennsylvania, New York, again New York, and California, I decided to ask treasured client and author of the young adult novel Wither, Lauren DeStefano, to break down the realities of being a Poelle client."

Agent Barbara Poelle interviews writer/client Lauren DeStefano:


Barbara: It's a necessity of the business to have an agent work well not only with the houses, but with the author as well. On the scale of "velvet glove" to "iron fist," how tough an agent is Barbara?

Lauren: Have you ever seen those shows where there's an out-of-shape person crying and wheezing and doing jumping jacks, and at length there's a tiny blond woman shouting through a megaphone for them to jump higher and do more? My agent is that megaphone lady. And, believe it or not, I mean that as a high compliment. No matter how successful an author becomes, or how many books an author sells, there will always be times where we feel discouraged, belittled, talentless and out-of-shape. When that happens, we don’t need an apple pie and a bandage. We need someone who believes in what we do, pushing us back into the ring.

Barbara: Authors are self-employed, which can lead to challenging financial management. Exactly how big a budgetary line-item is your "Barbara's vodka" fund?

Lauren: Barbara gets 15% of everything I make, which includes the cake I served at my launch party.

Barbara: Communication is so important between agent and client. What is the latest/earliest hour at which you have ever called B? And how did she answer the phone when you did?

Lauren: My preferred method of communication is email or text, which I’m sure Barbara is grateful for, because I’m known to fire off an email at 2 in the morning. But if there’s something that needs to be discussed, we’ve had conversations on weekends, from vacation spots, ten o’clock at night, and I can recall a specific instance where she called me during the intermission of a play—while on a date with her husband (sorry, Husband).
Most of our phone calls are usually planned out ahead of time, and they begin in an orderly fashion with both of us having prepared comprehensive notes for what needs to be discussed in the thirty-minute timeslot, and they end about an hour and a half later after several non sequiturs and inappropriate jokes, with her shouting, “I really have to go!” five or six times.

Barbara: If Ms. Poelle's apartment was burning and she had time to save only one thing, would it be:
a) her wedding photos
b) your next manuscript
c) her original blueprint of Fort Knox
d) her "go bag" containing a fifth of vodka, six false passports and a tranquilizer gun.

Lauren: The answer is most likely B or C, since her husband will take care of A, and D is probably what started the fire.

Barbara: Which of the following professions would you guess as a long time client of Barbara's that she has NOT held?
a) beauty pageant queen
b) children's entertainer
c) mud wrestling announcer
d) K9 Police Dog trainer

Lauren: I don’t understand the question. All four of those things are necessary skills in the publishing industry.

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