Today, we are lucky enough to have literary agent Peter Knapp of The Park Literary Group joining us. Thank you so much for being here, Peter!
Me: How did you become an agent?
Peter: While I was in school I interned at New Line Cinema, working for the assistant of the executive who was in charge of tracking books for possible film adaptation. I immediately fell in love with the whole business of books, and realized that I wanted to work with them. I ended up getting a job out of college working for a book scouting agency that helped film production companies in Los Angeles find books for possible adaptation, and then went on to join The Park Literary Group after realizing I wanted to work more closely with authors and their manuscripts.
Me: Many of my readers are aspiring authors and are actively looking for their first agent. Can you tell them a little bit about what the author/agent relationship is like? What can they expect after they sign with an agent?
Peter: After signing with an agent, they can expect to revise their manuscript in order to prepare it for submission. Depending on how much development needs to be done, this can take just a short amount of time or a little bit longer. Then, the agent brings the book on submission and hopefully finds the right editor and publisher to bring the book out into the world. After a book has sold, the agent will help champion for the book and author, helping to make sure the author’s voice is heard with regard to anything from marketing plans to cover design. And of course, an agent keeps an eye on the big picture, looking for the right opportunities to grow an author’s career from one publication to the next.
Me: What are you looking for right now in fiction submissions and not getting? Are there any subjects or genres that are near and dear to your heart? And on the flip side, what are you getting too much of?
Peter: I want more magical realism. I love stories where the world is recognizable, and many of the rules are the same as in our everyday life, but some of the rules are just a little different. There’s just an undercurrent of magic, and it’s not front-and-center but is more a part of the story’s voice and the characters’ viewpoints.
I am still getting a lot of science fiction and speculative fiction that feels as though it’s inspired by Across the Universe, Hunger Games, those types of books. While I love those books, I’m not really looking to take them on at this point.
Me: What is one thing about you that a writer would be surprised to learn?
Peter: I have eight screws and two metal plates in my ankle from when I broke my bone in high school. Unfortunately, there’s no great story behind the break. I fell on ice. While running.
Me: Best piece(s) of advice you can give a writer we haven’t talked about yet?
Peter: The best thing you can teach yourself is how to revise. Editors will want to do work even on very polished manuscripts to prepare them for publication, and it’s essential to know how to take notes and make meaningful changes to a story based on them.
Me: Are you open to submissions? If so, how should a writer go about submitting?
Peter: Yes! I am currently open to submission. You can submit to me by sending a query letter and a three chapter sample to email@example.com. Please put my name (first and last) in the subjectline.