Vanessa Grossett is the first guest to feature in this new and exciting series called, How I became …
She is also the author of non-fiction books, stories, a Christian novel and a contributing writer for Keep the Faith, a Christian lifestyle magazine. Today she talks about her journey on how she became a literary agent.
Tell me Vanessa, how did it all start for you?
Around the same time of my book getting published a friend of mine wanted to publish her book. She asked me to help her with the process. I read her manuscript, and referred her to a publisher. I also helped to promote the book. I thoroughly enjoyed doing this more than being an author. I decided to research into the role of a Literary Agent, and what I did for my friend was this role. I believe this was my God given destiny, and decided to pursue it further. I got work experience in this field, and as the saying goes the rest is history.
What is a typical agent day like?
There is never a dull moment in my day. Mostly it involves reading submissions, checking on my clients, discussing their next projects, and career steps. Reading their manuscripts, answering emails, calls, promoting, and networking.
What was the hardest part on your agency journey?
For me it was getting publishers to take myself, and clients seriously especially here in the UK. I believe at first initially a lot of them thought I was too young, and inexperienced. I didn’t know enough about my role. In the USA, I was and still am taken much more seriously by some publishers. Though at the time the agency was new, I was not new to my role, I know it very well, and my clients know how to write extremely good, well written pieces of literature, whether it be nonfiction or fiction. But you have to overcome these things, and move on. You have to believe in yourself, and take yourself and others you work with seriously, eventually external parties that you want to do business with will see that, and work with you.
What do you enjoy about being an agent?
I enjoy every part, but the most part I enjoy is helping to market the authors. I understand not every agent can do this due to time constraints, and I too also have time constraints, but I am a great believer in team work. As the saying goes many hands make light work, and if I can help make a project a success, then I will do that. People working as a team can make a project successful, and I thank God, that my client’s projects have been very successful due to the team work; that we have put in place together.
What is your writing background?
I have always loved writing, from the days of secondary school. English Literature was one of my favourite subjects, and I always use to get a ‘gold star,’ for best story telling. Later on in life my career goal changed to being a journalist. I have a Bachelors Arts degree in journalism, done volunteering work for various magazines, and newspapers. Eventually I got a job in public relations, which still had some writing elements to it, such as doing press releases. In the year 2009 I wrote my first Christian based nonfiction, book called Don’t Look Back -The Harmful Consequences of Backsliding, which was published in the year 2010. I also learnt how to write fiction, I currently write for award winning Keep the Faith Magazine, on the publishing industry, so I have a varied writing style.
What tips would you give to someone who wants to work as a literary agent?
- Efficient communication with clients, about projects, career goals, marketing etc. I believe in business communication is very important.
When there is efficient communication everyone can work together successfully. Some of my clients are in the USA, so for me it is even more important to touch base with them regularly. We communicate and work together very well, and I have a very good relationship with my clients.
When a potential client submits to you, respond to them let them know you have their submission, and the time frame in giving them an answer. It is not polite to ignore people, if you wouldn’t like it to be done to you then don’t do it to others.
- Patience, another good quality. In this business you have to be very patience, especially when submitting to publishers, and waiting for the book to be released. Some publishers are very good at getting back quickly, they can immediately tell if it is a project that they are willing to invest in, others are not so quick, so you have to be patient. However in today’s business world where networking is the one of the important keys, I have got publishing deals more quickly, than I have done before. Again it is about communicating and building that rapport. Though while we are waiting I always encourage my clients to continue to market, and work on the next book, which they are very successful at.
- I think it’s important to show encouragement. At times, authors may need encouragement. I don’t believe agents shouldn’t just dismiss an author if they are having some down time, and move onto the next one who is having a good day. It is positive to encourage, and help the author get back on track. It’s something I have done, and have built good relationships on. At the end of the day without the author an agent has no business, just as much as they value us and our expertise, we should also value them.
There are some great books due for release by my clients, so I will be working with them on those, and just continue to build, and network. You can never have enough of building and networking in business.
Where can people find you?
I am on LinkedIn, search Vanessa Grossett
Interview by Anne John-Ligali