Literary Agent Interview : Kirsten Carleton of Sobel Weber Associates, Inc.

Everyone join me in a warm blog welcome to, Kirsten! I hope you guys enjoy getting to know her as much as I did.

clapping

Q: Let’s get the basics out of the way. How long have you been an agent and what was it that first attracted you to this profession in the first place?

Kirsten: I started at Sobel Weber in 2009. I’ve always been a huge reader, and for a long time, I thought I wanted to be a writer. After taking tons of writing workshops, I gradually realized that the part I liked best was giving feedback on other writers’ work, which led me to publishing. As an agent, I get to be completely in the author’s corner – his/her success is my success, so we’re working together for the same thing.

Q: Many reading this interview will be writers looking to query you with their novel. Tell us what you represent and what tops your submission wish list?

Kirsten: Right now, I’m looking for both YA and Adult fiction, literary and speculative. I love when those things overlap: novels that are both literary and speculative, for example, like Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell or The Magicians. Good writing is a must, and I look for strong storytelling, with a plot that moves.

Q: If there were one part of being an agent that made you want to happy dance under confetti, what would it be?

Kirsten: I love sharing a vision with a writer, and giving criticism that brings that vision to light. A lot of time, it’s just a matter of getting the author out of his/her own way. The best is when I send notes and the author responds by saying, “I knew this, I just didn’t know that I knew this.”

Q: What are a few things that will make you reject a query, hands down? What makes you jump for joy when you see it in a query?

Kirsten: Do your research. Make sure you’ve got the name of both the agency and the agent right, and that you’re querying a genre we represent. Follow the rules and treat it as professional correspondence. Tell me enough about your book that I have an idea of the story, but don’t give away the ending. Show me how well you write, but avoid gimmicks like writing the query as the main character. If you have blurbs or writing credits, include them, but I don’t need to know that God told you to write this book or that your mother really loves it. Please please please include contact information!

Q: What does a normal day look like in the life of a literary agent?

Kirsten: People always answer this by saying that there is no “normal” day, and that it varies depending on what’s on the docket. Unfortunately for the interview (but not for me), that’s basically the truth! A lot of the day is fielding email from authors and editors. I also report on and respond to submissions, and get in touch with writers whose short stories I’ve read. I don’t read or take notes at the office though – there’s no time!

Now, you’re not just a literary agent, but also a person with feelings and interests, a human being not a robot, a girl not yet a woman…you get the idea.

For some fun:

Q: If you could pick three literary, television, or film characters to travel with, who would they be and where would you go together?

Kirsten: Oh man, difficult. How about: Maddie from Code Name Verity for her sense of direction. Tyrion from Game of Thrones to talk us out of tricky situations and provide colorful commentary. And of course the Doctor, who can take us anywhere in time and space in his TARDIS.

Q: What’s a TV show you’re obsessed with? Book you wouldn’t put down even if Tom Hiddleston came in the room?

Kirsten: Right now, I’m reworking my way through Veronica Mars. I gave money to the Kickstarter, but lost track of the release date, so it’s a race to catch up before someone spoils the movie for me! I also just started Broken Harbor. I’m loving it, which is no surprise, since I’m a big fan of Tana French’s previous books.

Q: What do you do for fun that doesn’t involve books, movies, or the internet?

Kirsten: Since the weather’s finally nice today, I’m going to say hitting an outdoor happy hour with some friends. Dear weather: please stay nice!

Kirsten_Carleton_(full_size)

Bio:

As an agent, I get to be a champion for the author throughout the challenging publishing process. I love sharing an author’s vision for the book, working to help him or her uncover it, and finding a home for it with editors and readers who also feel that connection. Beyond the individual book, I want to develop satisfying and successful careers that celebrate great talent.

I’m currently seeking upmarket young adult, speculative, and literary fiction with strong characters and storytelling. I’m drawn to books that capture my attention early on with a dynamic plot, and innovative storytelling that blends or crosses genres.

Before joining Prospect Agency, I worked at Waxman Leavell and Sobel Weber Associates. I hold a B.A. in English with a Creative Writing concentration from Amherst College, and a Graduate Certificate in Publishing from the Columbia Publishing Course.

Prospect Agency :: Twitter

kirsten [at] prospectagency [dot] com

A hearty thanks to Kirsten for chatting with me, and to you guys for reading! If you feel your work will connect with Kirsten, learn more about how to submit to her by visiting Waxman Leavell’s website. 

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2 thoughts on “Literary Agent Interview : Kirsten Carleton of Sobel Weber Associates, Inc.

  1. What a fun interview, Rebekah (and Kirsten!). It’s always fun to see the personal side of agents in addition to what they’re like as agents. And I always love finding new Marshmallows and Whovians.

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