Aimee Ashcraft is based in New York City, where she is an associate agent at Brower Literary & Management. After earning her MA in French translation from NYU, she joined the wonderful world of publishing. She loves stories that feature strong women, diverse voices, and a little bit of magic.
Does an author’s biographical information, such as publications, awards, where they studied, etc. play a part in evaluating them as a potential client, or are evaluations “blind”? Put another way, do writers who have never been published anywhere stand a chance?
While it's good to know if an author has prior experience writing or has been published before, it really doesn't sway my opinion of their work. I evaluate the writing in their submission - that's what really matters. While experience can work in an author's favor, first time authors have just as much of a shot of snagging my attention.
Once an author has been accepted as a client, do you shop their work to a set list of publishers, or to any publisher that seems like a fit?
This is a difficult question, because it simply depends on the project and the author. Some projects do better being shopped to a wide range of editors, but some are better being taken to only small selection of publishers at a time. I like to approach the submission process with a strategy in mind and each strategy is different for each project.
What kind of research should an author do before querying your agency?
First, make sure that you're submitting the correct genre. For example, don't submit a Middle Grade project to an agent who only represents Adult projects. I'd strongly suggest researching agency websites to get a good feel for what each agent is looking for. You'll also want to take a look at the submission guidelines on Agencies' websites and make sure that you're following their specific directions for submitting your projects. If you don't follow directions, agents may even delete your query. So while this research may feel like a lot of work, it's definitely worth it!
As a client, is an author allowed to find other agents for works other than the one they submitted to you?
This really depends on the agency and the client's contract with that agency. It's best to discuss with your agent before doing anything like submitting to other agents for other projects, to make sure you are on the same page.
What skills do you bring to the table to help place authors with publishers?
I'm an editorial agent, so I'm very involved in helping my authors develop their novels, polishing them and getting them ready for submission - so editors see the best possible version of their manuscripts. In addition, my agency has a number of contacts in all of the major publishing houses. So not only am I able to foster a close working relationship with authors, but I also have the wide reach and resources of my agency behind me, allowing me to (hopefully!) place them in the best possible publishing house.