Name: Linda Camacho
Agency: Prospect Agency
What was your first job in the industry, which led directly or indirectly to your current agent role? My first job was in reprints at Penguin eleven years ago. My boss and I were in charge of reprinting approximately 300 trade and mass market titles per month and it was rigorous. It was such a backend role that I never would have known anything about had I not done it, so it was a great intro to where the money is really made in publishing: Backlist. It was a terrific learning experience, but after a point, I wanted to delve into a more creative role, which was what ultimately led me to move to agenting years later.
There’s no specific agent qualifications, so what would you say best qualifies you to do your job & allows you to do it well? I’ve been in just about every department in the business while I tried to break into agenting (okay, originally I wanted editorial, but in the end, I realized agenting was a better fit!): Production, foreign rights, publicity, editorial, marketing. That broad view allows me to understand the various components of the industry, and how everything fits together to work in tandem. It’s a bird’s-eye view I utilize when I explain the various processes to my clients. Beyond that, I’m also a writer, having gotten my MFA while I was working at Random House. I’m very editorial and very sympathetic to the creative process!
What routine, if any, do you look to start each working day with? The first thing I do is answer my emails, responding to clients, editors, agency colleagues, etc. I really do try to clear out that inbox as much as I can.
Lift the lid as best you can, and describe a typical working day? There’s really no typical day on the job, really. It’s kind of a juggling act. After answering the initial emails, I’ll then check in on client submissions, nudging any editors who still have a manuscript and noting any passes or interest. I also go through queries pretty quickly. I get about 25 a day, so maybe no more than an hour, if that. Additionally, I edit client manuscripts for those I’m getting ready to submit to editors and, if time permits, I try to catch up on reading requested manuscripts from querying writers. That’s between editor lunches and client phone calls that come up. It can feel pretty scattered.
What do you feel a client and agent should expect of each other in the course of a fruitful working relationship day-to-day? The ideal client and agent partnership is one where there’s clear communication between both parties and realistic expectations of each other. There needs to be mutual respect and collaboration for client and agent to work together fruitfully.
Is there a typical process that sees a first enquiry turn into a working client relationship? I generally find my clients through the slush pile, where writers query and send some sample pages. If I’m interested in seeing more, I reach out and it goes from there. I also look to client and colleague referrals for potential clients.
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? I’m all about realistic expectations, so if a person approaches me expecting me to promise them the world, I’m not the right person for them. Even when I’m in love with a project, I’ll always tell them what I hope we can do together with it. Of course I want the brass ring. And if I take someone on, I have a strong feeling that’s can happen down the line—I mean, who doesn’t want bestselling books and movie deals? I always aim to get that for my clients, but that can take time. If a writer is expecting that right out the gate, it scares me a little. Ambition is good, but it needs to be tempered with realism.
Is there any part of your day-to-day work that manifests itself in evenings & weekends? It all spills over into weekends. I haven’t had a day off since I started agenting. I’m always checking emails, but most of all, reading. I’m always reading client work and submissions.
What one piece of advice would you give to a writer just starting out? Be patient. If you really want to be published, if you keep at it and continue to work on your craft, it’s bound to happen. I’ve seen some people struggle for years until they land the offer of rep/deal that changes everything.
What one piece of advice would you give to your younger self? Probably the same advice! Be patient. It was a long road to get into agenting, but one where I learned a lot that’s only helped me so far. If I’d gotten to this point sooner, I know I wouldn’t have appreciated it.
Favourite film? Pan’s Labyrinth.
Favourite TV program (currently or all-time)? Currently, Broad City.
Favourite book? She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb.
Favourite director? Steven Spielberg.
Favourite writer? These days, I’m really loving Rainbow Rowell.
Favourite actor (male or female)? Kathy Bates.