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Literary agent Jennifer Carlson in Poets and Writers

August 19th, 2010

Although Booklab focuses more on scholarly work for university presses and academic journals, I like to keep a weather eye out for what is going on in the trade world.  After all, I got my publishing start in that wonderful place, and many academic authors hope to cross over at one point or another.  This month’s Poets and Writers features a Q&A on page 111 with Jennifer Carlson of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner that seems unusually well-tuned.  I can’t link to the piece (it is paid content), but that link will take you to her profile page.

Why is it notable that her Q&A is kind?  Well, I’ve found some agents to be anything ranging from a bit tone-deaf to outright wrong.  And although I like to keep my interaction with most humans sane and low-key, the only tense squabbles I have ever had on the phone that weren’t with lawyers were with agents.  Sheesh.  However, the ones we work with are terrific (we have placed fiction for Booklab authors with agents at Trident, William Morris, and several amazing boutiques), yet often the ones whose advice I read in the how-to places is an odd combination of trite and dismissive.  Not this bit, however.  Carlson actually sounds kind to authors who lack confidence, and she doesn’t look down on the self-published — which is great, because Dickens, Housman, and Proust were all self-published at one point or another… I honor that history.

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