Name: Carrie Pestritto
Agency: Prospect Agency
What was your first job in the industry, which led directly or indirectly to your current agent role? My “gateway” experience into the world of agenting was interning at Writers House when I was a sophomore in college. I interned over the summer and then later on, got a job as an assistant there, which I held for about a year before becoming an agent with Prospect!
There’s no specific agent qualifications, so what would you say best qualifies you to do your job & allows you to do it well? Probably my time-management and multitasking skills. I’m very comfortable operating in a whirlwind of activity, which I think is an important skill for an agent to have, since you are always juggling several things at once!
What routine, if any, do you look to start each working day with? I don’t really have a specific routine, but I do start off each day by going through my emails and the to-do lists I’ve left myself from the previous day.
Lift the lid as best you can, and describe a typical working day? My typical working day is probably quite different from what people expect. I have another full-time job working in library sales at Cambridge University Press, so I balance my work for the Press with answering emails, looking at contracts, and scheduling calls during the day.
What do you feel a client and agent should expect of each other in the course of a fruitful working relationship day-to-day? Openness and a willingness to try things out. It is, after all, a relationship and being able to participate in the give-and-take and communicate effectively is key. It’s really important to feel comfortable talking to your agent and to know that you are being heard (and vice versa)!
Is there a typical process that sees a first enquiry turn into a working client relationship? When I see something I like, I will request the full and take notes as I go. If I fall in love, my next step is to reach out to the author to talk to them about how they envision their career and what they are looking for in an agent to see if it gels with my own thoughts and methods. I’ve found that having a successful client relationship is about more than just loving their novel–you need to know that you’ll love working with them, too.
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? When a client views their manuscript as a commercial endeavor, as well as an art form, that’s usually a sign that we will work well together. As an author, you have to be totally ready to rip your work apart at the seams and sew it back together again. When an author seems resistant to change or doesn’t take my suggestions seriously, that’s a sign that we most likely won’t have a fruitful relationship. I am a very hands-on agent and my authors usually go through several intensive rounds of revision before their work is sent out to editors.
Is there any part of your day-to-day work that manifests itself in evenings & weekends? Um, all of it? I do most of my reading and going through slush at night and during the weekends, as well as anything else I wasn’t able to get to during the workweek.
What one piece of advice would you give to a writer just starting out? Always be looking to improve. It’s very easy to let a rejection from an agent get you down, but if you can look at their feedback and figure out what you need to change, you’re giving yourself an edge. Don’t just blindly send things out–each round should have a period of revision and thought behind it. I also strongly suggest looking at writers in your genre and seeing what they do well, how they do it, and if you should be utilizing similar techniques in your own work.
What one piece of advice would you give to your younger self? Don’t stress out so much! It will take time, but you’ll get closer to where you want to be each year.
Favourite film? Probably Gone With the Wind or Howl’s Moving Castle.
Favourite TV program (currently or all-time)? Outlander!
Favourite book? That’s a tough one–the answer can depend on the season or my mood or where I am. Dodie Smith’s I CAPTURE THE CASTLE is a pretty consistent top choice, though.
Favourite director? William Wyler and Woody Allen.
Favourite writer? That’s a hard question for the same reason favorite book is! I will say that at the moment, I am HOOKED on Susan Elia MacNeal’s Maggie Hope series. Everyone should read them.
Favourite actor (male or female)? Benedict Cumberbatch.