A surefire way to determine an agent is the best fit for your manuscript/writing career is by learning everything you can about them. Such information is great when choosing who to query and 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 awesome agent interviews for you!
Today we’re introducing Leah Pierre of the Ladderbird Literary Agency!
Path2pub: Welcome to Path2pub. How did you become an agent?
LP: So I initially wanted to come into this industry as an editor like most of us do. I had decided this back in high school but I knew how competitive the industry was and thought it would be a good idea to get a master’s degree in publishing as a way to get a leg up in the industry. So I looked into colleges that had Publishing graduate programs and because I didn’t want to move to New York I decided on Rosemont College which is a small liberal arts school a few miles outside of Philadelphia. While there and completing my undergraduate, I built my industry knowledge by doing informational interviews, mentorships, and my own research. By the time I took the first class in my graduate program, I knew that trade editing was not going to work for me because all the positions (and internships) were located in New York. That’s when I really started to pursue a career as an agent and apply for a bunch of agency internships (that I didn’t get). Then I took a summer class in my graduate program called “How to Be a Literary Agent” which was basically a crash course of the career and was so helpful! A few weeks later, POC in Pub retweeted Ladderbird’s job posting, and being that I had just taken the course, I decided to apply! And the rest is history 🙂
Path2pub: What an awesome journey! What genres do you represent and why did you decide ‘these are what I want to help bring to the world’?
LP: I represent most commercial genres (fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, romance, mystery, thriller/suspense, dark academia, historical fiction, myths/retellings) in Adult and YA. But I’m currently focusing on expanding into the romance and thriller/suspense genres. I decided upon these genres because there has been a lack of BIPOC voices across the board and I want to dedicate my career to providing representation to those who have been voiceless and underrepresented for too long.
Path2pub: What instantly catches your eye in a query letter/manuscript?
LP: Character and voice. The characters really need to have a great voice and tone so that I can not only get a good sense of them but bond with them as well. It’s characters that make me care and want to stay for the rest of the story so if there’s great, strong characterization right off the bat then I’m immediately drawn in.
Path2pub: What is that element that makes you know at once that a story is not for you?
LP: Either when I can’t connect with the characters or the voice, when I don’t have a clear idea as to where the story is going, or when I do not have an editorial vision for the story.
Path2pub: This is highly insightful, especially with the third point! How hands-on are you editorially?
LP: I’m very hands-on editorially. I like to do at least two rounds of edits with my clients before going out on sub. I also like to help my clients brainstorm and talk through their next projects as well.
Path2pub: Do you have goals for how many clients you want to acquire in a year?
LP: Yes, I’d like to take on at least 4-5 clients a year and would love for most of them to be Black, POC, or others who come from a marginalized background.
Path2pub: What is your favorite trope?
LP: My favorite trope has to be the found family. It’s just something about either a cast of characters coming together and bonding or a character finding the people who speak get them and accept them wholeheartedly.
Path2pub: Yes; found family is awesome. What are some books you think everyone should read?
LP: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. Sadie by Courtney Summers. Dear Martin by Nic Stone. Circe by Madeline Miller. Red Rising by Pierce Brown. City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty.
Path2pub: If a writer could write a book specifically for you, what would you want it to be about?
LP: My dream book would be a BIPOC gothic that is in the vein of Crimson Peak, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and The Yellow Wallpaper. I’d also really really love a BIPOC Lady Macbeth retelling.
Path2pub: What advice do you have for querying writers?
LP: I know you’ve probably heard this before but have patience because unfortunately, it doesn’t stop with getting an agent—that’s just the first part.
Path2pub: Thank you for sharing this!What are your non-publishing related hobbies?
LP: I love to crochet, bake, cook, go on nature walks, travel, hang out with friends, and watch TV and movies!
Thank you for stopping by, Leah!
A Texas native, Leah is searching for the next commercial YA or Adult project that will hook her (or make her cry). When not in the company of fictional characters, Leah hangs out with friends and family, cooks, and catches up on movies and tv shows she is always behind on. She is a tenacious advocate for BIPOC writers and is always looking for ways to bring more intersectionality to publishing. You can query her here.
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