Name: Pam Howell
Agency: D4EO Literary
What was your first job in the industry, which led directly or indirectly to your current agent role?
I started out as a book blogger back in 2008. I was one of the first so my blog was able to gain popularity quickly. I met an agent through a Twitter chat. I was helping promote a book that her author had written. She saw that we were local and asked me to lunch. I apprenticed to her for a year before I began taking my own clients.
There’s no specific agent qualifications, so what would you say best qualifies you to do your job & allows you to do it well?
Agenting is one of the few true apprenticeship jobs left. You still have to have a knack for developmentally editing a book, learning the market, and successfully pitching the right book at the right time but the nuts and bolts are learned during your 1-2 year no pay involved apprenticeship.
What routine, if any, do you look to start each working day with?
The first thing I do is check my email. I deal with any urgent issues and head on to one of the following: Pitching, reading client work or reading queries.
Lift the lid as best you can, and describe a typical working day?
I think it’s hard to explain this because no day is the same. This is why I love this job so much. In any working day I can read contracts, negotiate a deal, sign an author, edit a book, pitch a book, write a hopefully helpful article. Go to a writer’s conference, teach a class, attending signings at local bookshops. The list is endless!
What do you feel a client and agent should expect of each other in the course of a fruitful working relationship day-to-day?
I think the agent/client relationship is like a marriage. The client should respect working hours and the agent should communicate all news immediately. Everyone is kept in the loop on all things.
Is there a typical process that sees a first enquiry turn into a working client relationship?
For me it’s generally my query box. Slush works. Most of my clients are a direct result of me reading a query, asking for a full manuscript, and falling in love.
What is the best way to approach you, or any agent, with a view to representation? Is there one part of an approach that makes you think this client is or isn’t for me?
Submission guidelines. They vary for every agent and creating a packet for every single person you want to pitch is time consuming and annoying but it really does the work. I can see immediately if someone has followed me on Twitter, or learned about my books, and took the time to craft a submission packet just for me.
Is there any part of your day-to-day work that manifests itself in evenings & weekends?
Reading. Always the reading.
What one piece of advice would you give to a writer just starting out?
Revise. Your first work may not be the work that hooks an agent but if you’re serious about being a writer toss that one to the side for later if it didn’t work out and start something new.
What one piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t worry so much about your GPA. It didn’t matter. And you were right, you never used Algebra again.
Favourite film? Soloman and Gaenor
Favourite TV program (currently or all-time)? Stargate Atlantis.
Favourite book? Picking a favorite book is like picking a favorite limb. My right hand loves Harry Potter, my left hand Wuthering Heights and so on and on.
Favourite director? Oh, gosh. I pay no attention to those types of things.
Favourite writer? Now? Neil Gaiman or Margaret Atwood.
Favourite actor (male or female)? Eva Green.