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Pitching an Agent: Wm Clark Associates

This agent will help you find the book you want to write

- July 10, 2012
Number of agents: One
Number of clients: About 35
Notable clients: The New Yorker Middle East correspondent and National Book Award finalist Peter Hessler, award-winning New York restaurateurs Zakary Pelaccio and Keith McNally, AD-100 interior designer Alexa Hampton, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, performance activist Rev. Billy, and music-world luminaries Bjork and Snoop Dogg

Amount of unsolicited material accepted: Very little, but Clark reads and responds to every query.
Fiction vs. nonfiction: Clark aims to do about half and half, but generally finds more compelling non-fiction than fiction.

Background: William Clark began his career as an agent in the early 1990s at the Roslyn Targ Agency. As a pioneering agency for works in translation (Targ brought writers such as Primo Levi, Italo Calvino and Erich Maria Remarque to American attention), the company gave Clark extensive experience working with translation rights and offered him access to a global publishing community. Clark then worked for other small agencies (Loretta Barrett Books) and large (William Morris) before opening up his own shop in 1999. With a client list that includes international writers, American authors who stage their narratives along the banks of Chinese rivers, and Icelandic songstresses, it's clear he's put those global contacts to work.

Having worked at large and small agencies, Clark knows the advantages and disadvantages of both and says a draw for his one-man operation is that he can offer what he calls scaleable representation. "A lot of authors will go to a large agency thinking, 'Oh, they also do television and stage and public appearances, and I'm just going to get everything under one roof,'" Clark noted. "Unfortunately, more often than not, that is representation based more on obligation than enthusiasm. I look to assemble a team of colleagues representing the different aspects of a client's career, rather than having it all under one roof, where one division of an agency has to represent something even though they may not have a vision for pitching that to buyers."

Before he starts selling rights, however, he works closely with his authors, though he prefers fiction projects to come in nearly fully formed. "I might fall in love with a voice and see a way to work with it if it's not quite right," Clark said, "but generally, I don't edit fiction." Nonfiction projects can come in a bit more sketched out; if Clark is into the project, he'll spend time developing the idea, helping the author find the book they have to write....

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