Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Meet Agent Natalie Fischer

Today, I have a special guest. My very first agent interview.

*a big parade with a marching band and clowns*

Ms. Natalie Fischer SQUEEEEEEE!!!!!!

You might ask.."Eb, how in the world did you get an agent to visit your little rinkadink blog?" And my answer would be...."NETWORKING!" I've met such fabulous people.

Natalie is an agent for Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. You can be like me and stalk um..follow her on twitter and her blog.

I highly suggest you follow her blog. It's full of little tidbits of information.

Let's meet Natalie....

Can you share a little bit about yourself....


;) My bio has the main details, but really, what’s best to know about me is that I’m a very hands-on agent who is obsessed with email and cats. I don’t take offense easily, but I do get annoyed easily by people who submit to me blindly. I believe in lots of collaboration, am very approachable (no, really!), and can be very snarky and sarcastic at times.

When you were a child, what was your favorite book of all time?

Hmm, depends on what age you’re asking here. Picture-book age, I loved fairy-tale spin-offs, mid-age JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, and past that, it changed about every other day as I continued to devour books…

Within the last twelve months, what was the best book you've read?

Oh my. No way can I pick one. A romance I read that’s been coming back to me non-stop is STEALING KATHRYN by Jaquelyn Frank, and I just read my first graphic novel (which I LOVED), which was a re-telling of the first OUTLANDER book by Diana Gabaldon (THE EXILE).

What made this book your favorite?

I love sexy, but most of all, I love a good romance. And part of what makes a good romance is unforgettable characters that I love and care about.

Who is your favorite literary character of all time?


Can you tell us why?

Talk about patience and resilience!

From what I read in your blog, you were a writer. Can you tell us a little about the transition from writer to agent?

It was certainly an adjustment, mainly because I had to learn to evaluate from a business perspective rather than a creative one. Which means that instead of thinking, “Oh, what a great story!” I might think, “Oh, what a great story – too bad there’s already thirty more like it out there.”

Do you still do a little writing?

It’s almost impossible for me to finish anything now because I am so critical of what I write. Knowing all the issues that can go wrong in a book drives me nuts when I’m writing, because it’s impossible to write a first draft, I think while avoiding them all. And so sadly, no, not really writing anymore. I edit.

How does someone become an agent?

Well, any variety of ways, really. Ideally, by transitioning into it from a background in publishing. I interned at the agency I worked for, and others have been editors, or interns in publishing houses, readers, etc.

First thing that pops into your mind time...

Favorite food?




Your first kiss?


Edward or Lestat?


Strolls on a beach or bungee jumping?


Dream vacation?


Okay, now to what unpublished writers want to know....

What are looking for right now?

Anything that stands out. Incredible voice, sexy, hot romances, and girl-character chapter books.

What genre makes your eyes roll when you read it in a query? Like makes you go..."Not another one."

Vampires. Werewolves. Zombies. Over 100,000 words.

What is your biggest turn-off in a query?

Not following guidelines.

What is the worst mistake a writer can make in a query?

Submitting to the wrong agent.

What about in sample pages?

Starting on page 56, because that’s where the plot REALLY takes off and is TOTALLY the best part.

When you do request a manuscript, what is usually the one thing that turns that request into a rejection?

I get 1/3 of the way through and don’t really care if I know what happens next, or I do, but only enough to look at the synopsis because the manuscript isn’t well-written enough (usually pacing).

Do you read all the pages you request or is there a certain point when you know..."This is not for me."

There is a definitely point where I know something isn’t right for me, but whether that’s 1 page in, 10 pages in, or 300 pages in varies.

Let's say your requested a full and you love it, do you share the manuscript with your coworkers?


If you do, do they offer you their opinions?


(by the way, my answers in the “first thing that comes to mind” are driving me nuts, but in the spirit of the questions I won’t go back to them…) LOL!! I do admire your restraint.

Can you give a brief description of what happens after you offer representation?

When I offer representation, I like to do so by email and set up a time to chat (I’m out of the office two days a week so it’s easier that way). Then I put them in touch with our contracts manager, who sends the agency agreement, and after my new client signs, I send whatever notes I have for edits. Once edits are finished, I’ll write my pitch and put together my submission list, and then we’re on sale!

For a writer to be represented by you, what are the things their manuscript has to have?

A unique hook, unforgettable voice and characters, and proper formatting.

As part of your agencies submission requirements, you ask for a synopsis. What does a synopsis provide for you?

An idea of where the book is going. If it’s too predictable, or if the main elements of the plot are buried in slow pacing a fluff that needs to be cut from the actual manuscript.

And finally, you just recently started to take email submissions, how is that working out for you?

Fantastic! It’s so much easier, since I don’t have to lug a giant bucket around anymore…

Thank you so much for visiting my little blog. I hope you'll visit again, soon.

Thank YOU for the interview!! Very in-depth. J

For my readers, please leave Natalie comments and thank her for her time.


  1. Yay! Hi Natalie! *waves enthusiastically* What a great interview, you two. Let me tell you, all you aspiring authors, Natalie is my agent and is FANTASTIC. Her suggestions are always right and while I agree she can be snarky and sarcastic, it's great to get her notes. Usually I have to laugh when she says, "Oh come on! Really?"

    IMO, you couldn't ask for a better agent than Natalie. If you're thinking of querying her, make sure your novel is the best it can be and the do so!

  2. Fantastic interview! As Natalie said, very in depth. Thanks to Natalie for taking the time to share so much great info.

  3. Great interview! Question/comment about the 100,000 words... Agents seem to hate long books, but readers love them. I just read a great comment on a forum: "The shortest story I ever read was over 1,000 pages; the longest was 30." So why are agents so hard-core over length when readers aren't? I know from a publisher's cost perspective, it makes sense. Is that the only reason?

    Thanks, Natalie & Ebyss!

  4. Wow Natalie...we are star struck here! I knew this blog rocks (and you too Ebyss)! Anyways, it great of you to give writer's the perspective that it all boils down to ability and sales worthy. Thanks for giving us valuable tips about pursuing an agent for our work.

  5. Aw, great interview! I'll always have a special place in my inbox for Natalie - she gave me my very first rejection!

    Great perspective. Thanks to both of you. :)

  6. Hi Kristi - agents aren't opposed to length; it's more that the majority of books 100,000 words or more need to be streamlined a bit more and tightened up. So, we're asking you to do that before you submit! The ones that ARE longer and published obviously were just fine the way they were, but that makes sense, considering all the steps they had to pass through to get on the shelves.

    Jessica - :D

    Bethany - oh no! I'm sorry :( I hope it was helpful, at least!


  7. Natalie,

    Don't apologize! Believe me, it wasn't ready and I totally deserved it. :)

    Thanks for the kind words though, that's sweet.

  8. This was interesting and informative. Thank you, Ebyss