A surefire way to determine an agent is the best fit for your manuscript/writing career is by learning all you can about them. Such information is great when choosing who to query, and when those offers of rep come in, for deciding who you’d love to work long term with. As a site dedicated to guiding writers through the publication journey, we’ve put together these agent interviews for you!
Today we’re introducing Sarah N. Fisk from the Tobias Literary Agency! In case you wonder who sheepishly chuckled, it’s Lucia, hehe.
Path2pub: Welcome to Path2pub! How did you become an agent?
Sarah: It was very intentional and quite hard-won. I had been a writer for several years and had worked in the industry in other roles before I decided agenting was right for me. Once I got the urge, I took a long time to learn as much as I could about the job and worked very hard at networking. I attended info sessions and scheduled informational interviews with about a dozen agents, then I started applying for internships and assistant positions. I was lucky to get an internship with an agent I really admire and soon after that, was hired by Tobias Agency. Networking was essential to getting both positions.
Path2pub: That’s super inspiring. What genres do you represent and why did you decide ‘these are what I want to help bring to the world’?
Sarah: I love and read a wide variety of genres, so it was really a matter of narrowing it down, since it’s hard to know every editor in the entire industry. I chose the categories and genres for which I knew the market the best: Young Adult (all genres), Middle Grade (all genres), Adult Romance, and select Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy.
Path2pub: What instantly catches your eye in a query letter/manuscript?
Sarah: Something slightly different or distinct that helps a story stand out. A great example of this is Little Thieves by Margaret Owen, which has a lesser-known fairytale as well as having a strong German cultural aspect. Sometimes the thing that stands out isn’t so much world-building or plot, but is writing that sings.
Path2pub: Lovelily put🙂. What is that element that makes you know at once that a story is not for you?
Sarah: I’m personally bored by stories that center around who gets to rule an empire/kingdom.
Path2pub: *sheepish chuckle* How hands-on are you editorially?
Sarah: I am somewhat editorial, but not hugely so. As a Pitch Wars mentor, I was known for taking already well-written stories and making small changes to make them more marketable, so that is my forte over doing a huge overhaul on a book. However, I did have a mentee that I took on with the plan on doing a big rewrite, but I fell absolutely in love with character, concept, and writing so never say never!
Path2pub: I’m sure the mentee was thrilled! Do you have goals for how many clients you want to acquire in a year?
Sarah: Yes, but I also fully believe the proverb “We plan, God laughs” so I focus on the things I can do towards those goals rather than the numbers themselves. I’m a brand new agent, so I will probably sign more clients this year than most established agents, but I also want to make sure I don’t take on too many because I’ve seen that go very wrong with new agents in the past.
Path2pub: We writers love a brand new agent! What are some books you think everyone should read?
Sarah: As you can probably tell, I’m obsessed with Little Theives but more recent books that I’m in love with include Daniel José Older’s original stories, Iron Widow, The Inheritance Games, Arsenic and Adobo, anything by Kellye Garrett, The Lost Apothecary, Cemetery Boys and many more you can find on my Goodreads. I also think everyone in the US should read Never Pay the First Bill because our healthcare system is not caring for our health the way it should.
Path2pub: If a writer could write a book specifically for you, what would you want it to be about?
Sarah: Oh this is a very hard question, but the first thing that popped into my head was a YA or MG queer cozy paranormal mystery.
Path2pub: What advice do you have for querying writers?
Sarah: Follow guidelines, keep improving your craft, and keep going as long as you still love it.
Path2pub: Thank you for that! What are your non-publishy hobbies?
Sarah: I play volleyball, bake, and make resin jewelry and trinkets.
Thank you for stopping by and for making the interview so smooth!
Sarah N. Fisk is a former mechanical engineer who made the switch to publishing in 2011. They have worked in the publishing industry as an editorial assistant, author’s assistant, publicist, and art director. Sarah is a former Pitch Wars mentor, board member, and Agent Liaison. They host the podcast Queries, Qualms, & Quirks and have a passion for spreadsheets. Sarah is one of the founding members of Disability in Publishing. Learn more about Sarah here.
We definitely have more insightful agent interviews coming, especially through February—our ALL ABOUT QUERYING themed month—so subscribe/follow us and stay tuned!