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New Lit Agent, Gwendolyn Heasley Wants Strong Characters

Artists and Artisans new agent, Gwendolyn Heasley moonlights as an author and offers a unique perspective and empathetic ear for her clients. In today’s interview she discusses exactly what she’s looking for, why having an agent who is also an author is an advantage and the importance of self-promotion for her authors.


You have kind of an interesting background as an agent, Gwendolyn. Tell us about it.

I am (new) agent with Artists and Artisans. I am also a YA author with HarperCollins.

What advice do you have (being an author yourself) for your own clients on how to brace themselves for what’s happening in the industry right now?

I think authors (myself included) need to realize that you must self-promote. Get involved with technology (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc) and build relationships with librarians and bookstores. You need to be your book’s own best PR.

How do eBooks and the new eReading technologies factor into your business and your clients self-promoting campaigns?

I have a Kindle, and I love it. What’s greater than buying a book with the touch of your fingertips? But I still love having and collecting real books. Hopefully, Kindles etc. will complement real books rather than replace them.

What do you see editors are salivating for?

I truly believe that editors look for quality–it doesn’t matter what it’s about. There are trends that you’ll see, but only quality persists.

I am looking for characters whose names and stories become as familiar as Hollywood stars. I want characters that can be compared to and referenced in other mediums (TV, magazines etc) and everyone goes good call- I can see that. I want a Brett Ashley, a Miss Havisham etc.

Okay, so we’re hooked. How should writers approach you?

Query me. I am impressed with anyone that creates something productive to be put into society. And I don’t say this to be corny, but I am truly amazed by each query I get because I know the time, dedication and bravery required to write a manuscript.

That said, I’ve lived a lot of places and love traveling, so I love a query/manuscript that takes me a vacation to another place.

So, you’re an author and an agent, what other interesting factoids should we know about?

I had hermit crabs named Tony and Angela–they were named after the Who’s the Boss characters.

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