GalleyCat will begin profiling literary agents, managers and publishing attorneys in the coming weeks that we find fascinating in rather interesting interviews. Our first literary agent? Michael Bourret, of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.
What’s your official title and why are you the best agent in the universe?
I’m Vice President and Literary Agent at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. I think I’m a great agent, but I don’t think there’s such a thing as “the best” in our business. I’m the best fit for my
clients, and that’s what I pride myself on. There are plenty of talented authors out there, but I’m not the right agent for all of them. Fortunately, I have some great colleagues, both at DGLM and in the broader industry, to serve those people I can’t.
What have you done to brace yourself for the economic changes to the industry?
I’m not bracing myself for the economic changes, I’m welcoming and adapting to them. Change is good, progress is good, and we need to embrace the future. That said, DGLM has always been a lean operation that focuses on doing good work, not on flashy gimmicks. By looking to the future and considering contractual issues related to changes in the industry, we’re working to protect our authors and their income, while also seeking out new opportunities to help them exploit their work.
What do you think about all these technological changes happening? How have they changed the marketplace?
I don’t think the technological innovations have changed the marketplace just yet. For right now, even ebooks are still books – the economics have changed, but the product hasn’t. But I see a near and exciting future of interactive and multimedia products that will take advantage of the technologies at hand. I’m not sure these products will be books – they may be derivative products, or even something separate from the current publishing ecosystem – but I believe that authors will have a hand in crafting them, and I intend to help them do so.
What’s hot now, what are editors looking for?
Editors are always looking for the same thing: good stories that are well-written. I think it’s still safe to say that platform is more important than ever, but what really gets editors excited are new voices – it’s the same thing that gets agents excited.
What type of manuscripts and proposals are you currently looking for that you never seem to get?
It’s hard to say what I’m not getting – I get a lot! But I’d love to see more humor. Not “humor books,” but rather novels with humorous stories, especially in middle grade and YA. I like funny, and I don’t see enough of it.
What’s the best way for writers to approach you? And what’s one of your pet peeves when writers query you?
E-mail, as I only accept queries via e-mail now that I’m on the West Coast. Picking one query pet peeve isn’t easy, but right now I’d say the most egregious offense at the moment is the forwarded query that still has the previous agent’s name in it. That doesn’t bode well for the rest of the query.
And finally, what is something about you that very few people know?
I love Sandra Bullock, but I refuse to see THE BLIND SIDE.