Q&A with Eric Smith (Rocks!)

Next up I chat with Eric Smith, a literary agent at P.S. Literary and author!


Eric is an author, blogger, and literary agent. He writes, reads, and lives in Philadelphia with his beautiful wife, a snuggly pet chinchilla, a bunny rabbit that thinks it’s people, and an overexcited corgi.

Quick Fire:

  1. Currently reading (published title)? Oof, I feel like just about every book I read these days are either submissions or in ARC form, and not quite out in the world just yet. 
  2. How long have you been an agent? A little over a year now. I started my career working in publishing at Quirk Books, and moved into agenting last year.
  3. Favorite genre? Pretty much anything in YA, but if I had to get specific, probably YA fantasy.
  4. Genre you want to represent more of? Hm, I’m always up for more YA!
  5. Longest manuscript (word count) you’ve ever represented? About 90,000 words.
  6. Latest you’ve stayed up to read a manuscript? Very, very well past midnight.
  7. Most underrated published book or author? That’s a really good question! I’ve always been a really big fan of Adam Davies, he’s an adult contemporary author, writes very much along the lines of Nick Hornby. Not too many people have heard of him, and his books are just delightful. If I had to say underrated book… I’ll go with Talker 25 by Joshua McCune. I talk about it all the time, and I feel like people slept on it. It’s basically a Young Adult take on Reign of Fire, set in the future. Dragons, oppressive government… it’s like everything I ever wanted in one YA book.
  8. Favorite social media outlet? I suppose Twitter. Though I use Instagram like crazy to post pictures of my dog and of books. And of books with my dog. I have a very specific brand.
  9. Book you’ve read more than three times? Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. I can’t even say how many times I’ve read it. I probably read it once a year.
  10. Shortest amount of time it’s taken to sell a book? Two months.
  11. Longest amount of time it’s taken to sell a book? One year. Though I still have some projects out on submission that have been floating around for that long. I’m not one to give up.
  12. Most emails you’ve woken up to in your inbox? Hah! Definitely a couple hundred.
  13. Favorite reading snack & drink? Good question! Dark pretzels and root beer, please.
  14. Quickest time (from reading query) you’ve offered someone representation? Two days.
  15. Favorite bookish convention? That’s a tough one! Probably BEA? It’s the time when I get to see as many book people as possible all in one place. I’m not just an agent, I’m also an author with a few books out, and I love blogging about books. So Book Expo, it gives me a little bit of everything.

Long Answer, Show Work – Just Kidding 🙂

  1. Why did you become a literary agent? I wanted to work closely with authors. It’s the best way to do that, short of becoming an editor of course. I also wanted to discover new voices, and take chances on projects that might get passed up by other people. It’s been a lot of fun. 
  2. What types of books do you wish you’d see in your submission box more often? More #ownvoices books. So many more. All of them. Please.
  3. What are some query pet peeves that turn you off before you even see the manuscript? If my name is spelled wrong. My name is Eric Smith. If you spell that wrong, how in the world can I trust what’s in the manuscript or the rest of the letter.
  4. For you, what’s the most important part of a book and why (characters, prose, plot, etc.)? All of that, mashed together.
  5. Where do you find the majority of your clients – the slush pile, referrals, etc.? Hm. I feel like all my people came from a bundle of different things. Some from referrals, others from the agency inbox, and a lot from Twitter. I love those querying hashtag events. You can find so many gems in there.
  6. What’s your favorite part of being an agent? Saying yes!
  7. What’s your least favorite part of being an agent? Saying no!
  8. Is there anything a book could do that would make you say, “Nope,” and immediately stop reading it? If the book gets racist, that’s a done deal. Bye. We’ve got nothing to say to one another. Also I really hate portals or weird time traveling objects in fantasy novels that aren’t explained. “She touched the bracelet and went back in time.” No.
  9. For writers searching for an agent, what advice can you give them? Make sure you do your research. Every agent wants something different. Some want pages, some don’t. Some want a synopsis, others just want a query with a few paragraphs. Read the submissions guidelines.
  10. Anything else you’d like to add? Don’t give up!

Want to submit your book to Eric? Check out submission guidelines here!

Want to hear more from Eric? Follow him on Twitter here and check out his website here! 

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