Publishing Day: Interview with Literary Agent Louise Lamont

Over the coming weeks, we will be interviewing the experts on panel of Publishing Day 2018.

In the second of the series, we’re chatting with Literary Agent Louise Lamont. If you haven’t already seen our interview with Literary Agent Jeff Kleinman, please do.

For those interested in attending the Publishing Day, a limited number of tickets are still available. Contact Mundy at info@stmarksitaly.com for further information.

Other upcoming events include a workshop on Children’s Fiction on the 1st March, In conversation with writers Lee Foust and Colleen McKee on the 27th March, and a workshop on Poetry Responding to Visual Art on the 9th April.

After studying English Literature and Medieval Studies at university, and following a brief spell in the world of film development, Louise Lamont began her agenting career at AP Watt Ltd where she worked with Caradoc King and his clients for six years, while also building her own list of authors. In 2013, she moved to LBA Books where she specialises in children’s writers and illustrators. She is particularly looking for writers and illustrators for children and teen readers: strong, sharp storytelling with a hint of humour and a sense of adventure. She also co-produces the literary podcast Down The Rabbit Hole.

How much time do you spend reading, and what do you like to read for leisure?

I remember being warned that studying literature at university and/or going into publishing would kill the joy of reading for me – but so far, so good. I read a lot. I read when I can during the week, and a couple of books over a weekend – normally a mix of manuscripts and published books that have caught my eye. At the moment, I’m on a real non-fiction kick – probably because I’m desperately seeking evidence that heroes and heroines can emerge from nowhere to change the course of history for the better. Who can say why that’s on my mind right now? The finest book I read last year was EAST WEST STREET by Philippe Sands, and it defies description so just find a copy and know that I’m right.

How much editorial work does an agent typically do?

It varies from author and project (and agent) – but I happen to love editorial work, and I inflict it on my authors whenever I can; it’s magical to see an author conjure something new out of your mess of tracked changes and comment boxes. That said, any editing we do has to bear in mind the fact that there will be further rounds of editing once the book is placed with a publisher, so you need to balance getting the book into the best possible shape for submission against killing the author’s enthusiasm for their own creation.

How do you “predict the future,” in the sense of how are you able to surmise whether a book will find a home and be successful or not when making selections?

However much we think we know about publishers’ and readers’ appetites for particular kinds of story, there’s always some element of surprise tucked into the process – thank goodness.

What is a common misconception about what literary agents do and don’t do?

Ah, it depends on who’s doing the misconceiving… I think it’s common (and understandable) for authors waiting for a response to think that we can do all our reading in office hours; actually, reading has to be done in our own time, in the evenings or weekend, which is why response times are not always as swift as they could be. And I think publishers can sometimes view agents as a drag, with our constant questioning, but we just want to ensure that the book and author are being published as effectively as possible…

What’s the best piece of advice you can offer to a writer seeking an agent?

Talent will out, but it may take its sweet time – so I’d advise you to take up a new hobby as soon as you submit your work to agents – beekeeping, bank-robbing, jogging, anything to keep your mind off your inbox.

Find out more about Florence Writers’ Publishing Day.

Interview with thanks to Allie Vandersanden: 
Allie is a freelance writer and editor from Ontario, Canada, currently living in Florence and teaching ESL. She completed her undergraduate degree in English literature, and pursued her post-graduate studies in creative book publishing. Her interests include travel, blogging, seeking sunny spots to lounge in, and curling up with a good book and a cup of tea.

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