Interview with Agent Sarah Younger from the Nancy Yost Literary Agency
Please welcome Sarah Younger to our blog. She is here to give our readers a new perspective from the other side. Please tell our readers a little bit about you, such as why did you become a Literary Agent?
Sarah- I have been a reader for as long as I can remember, and once I learned that I could work with books I knew that’s what I wanted to do. The “how I was going to do that” part was harder to answer. It took me a while to find out about agenting, as it’s one of the professions in the book industry that likes to stay in the wings and behind the scenes. But once I really learned what agents do (and we do everything except write the book, *grins*), I was drawn to the profession and haven’t left. I’ve been with NYLA (the Nancy Yost Literary Agency) since the fall of 2011, and have been acquiring authors since the spring of 2012. And if you want me to be really truthful and therefore really cheesy, I became an agent because I really like helping dreams come true. I know it sounds like a line from a bad dating profile, but it’s true. I fell in love with happily-ever-afters really early on in life and I find that helping an author down their own personal path to publishing is like them getting their own happily ever after, and that just feels great. And also I really just love books, spoilers, and being the first to read something and say “OMG this is AMAZING.”
Please tell our readers about the agency you represent.
Sarah- The Nancy Yost Literary Agency is a mid-sized agency located in New York City. We represent a diverse array of authors, from the occasional non-fiction work to some of the biggest names in genre fiction. For more information on our authors and the agency you can visit our website www.nyliterary.com.
Describe the genre of the most recent release, and is the only genre you represent?
Sarah- I happened to have three books release on the last day of February, so I’ll tell you the genres of all three: Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, and Romantic Suspense. From that list it might seem like I only rep romance, but I represent a few more adult fiction genres beyond romance including select non-fiction, women’s fiction, and science fiction/fantasy (though I do like it to have some romance).
What is your weekly routine like?
Sarah- My weekly routine changes from week to week, but typically I start the week by reviewing the payments that are going to be sent to authors that our accountant processed over the weekend. Then I work on emails as I try to have a 24 hour or less turn around except on the weekends. From there my day could involve calls with authors, editors, or the accountant, to reviewing contracts, to following up on a submission, to making a submission list or writing a submission letter. Wednesdays, I work from home and it’s supposed to be my reading day, a day for me to do client reading/editing and prospective client reading, but I end up doing a lot of the aforementioned. When it comes to Thursday, I’m back in the office. I start processing the payments that have arrived, organizing royalty statements and countersigned contracts, and of course more email. By Friday I’m logging all the things for our accountant, I do this for the entire agency not just my clients, so that can be quite a lengthy process, but I know I like getting paid and so do our authors. Then, again, a mix of the aforementioned: calls, contracts, emails, etc. I also work with our lovely interns each semester and try to help show them the ins and outs of our profession, and they help me to get all the things done that can sometimes slip through the cracks. (So, shout out to amazing interns!)
Who first introduced you to the love of reading?
Sarah- My mother. She used to read out loud to us on long car trips and when she would need to take a break to rest her voice, I would take the book and continue reading ahead once I was able to. From there I never stopped wanting to read, never stopped wanting to know what happens next. She’d read us a whole bunch of books but I can most vividly remember Walter Farley’s Black Beauty series. When I started reading on my own, I picked out titles like Ella Enchanted and of course the Harry Potter series.
For authors or prospective authors: what influences your decision to read a submission: the query letter, synopsis, the plot, etc.
Sarah- It’s the sum of the parts and not one thing. But a strong query letter can go a long way in convincing me to read and consider a project further.
What is the biggest no no you see in submissions that makes you reject them?
Sarah- Sending me things I don’t represent. It’s a waste of your time and mine.
What do you see ahead in your career?
Sarah- I am not one to predict the future, as I really couldn’t have predicted living in NYC and working as a literary agent in the first place. I grew up in rural North Carolina on a horse farm, all the while loving books, but not knowing what was to come. And now I feel so blessed, looking back and seeing how everything came together to bring me here and to have the privilege to work with my authors.
However, if push comes to shove, I’d predict working with more talented authors, I’d also predict more amazing book deals *knocks on wood* and continuing to help my authors see their dreams come true.
Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?
Sarah- I find that the words of Dory are best, “Just keep swimming.” And by that I mean, just keep writing, just keep querying, just keep beta reading and having others beta for you, just keep working on your craft, just keep meeting and making new friends in the writing community. It doesn’t stop with one book or one contract, so you’ve gotta just keep swimming.
Also, how can our readers find your submission guidelines?
Sarah- You can find them on our website at www.nyliterary.com and on my bio page.
More about Sarah Younger
A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Sarah began her career in publishing at Press53 in Winston Salem, NC. She later attending the University of Denver’s graduate publishing program, and after attending she moved to New York City. Sarah has been with the Nancy Yost Literary Agency since the fall of 2011. She is a member of RWA and AAR. She is specifically interested in representing all varieties of romance (including science fiction and fantasy), women’s fiction, and select non-fiction. You can find her on her personal twitter page @seyitsme and learn more about the Nancy Yost Literary Agency by visiting our website www.nyliterary.com.
Interviewed by Nancy Lee Badger
FF&P Blog Chair