Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Interview with...Agent Rachel Kent of Books and Such

This week I welcome Rachel Kent, an agent with Books and Such Literary to the blog. She'll be part of the faculty at next month's Northwest Christian Writers' Association Writers' Renewal.

Here's a brief bio from the agency website: 
"Growing up as the middle of five children (two older brothers and two younger sisters), Rachel has learned first hand how to be a mediator, peacemaker and confidant. Good relationships have always been important to her. She likes to stick by people. She believes that as long as two people are dedicated toward working together, the relationship can work, and they can accomplish the task at hand. Rachel started at Books & Such as a summer intern while she was attending U.C. Davis and then, after graduating, worked part-time at the agency as an assistant. Her favorite part of the job was reading a manuscript and providing an author with feedback to help him or her to improve the project.She graduated from Davis in three years with a bachelor’s degree in English and minors in both religious studies and psychology. Through Rachel’s work at the agency and with authors, she has gained an understanding of the publishing process, contract negotiation, and what it takes to successfully write and market a book."

Rachel, thanks for taking time to answer my questions.

Rachel: Thanks for interviewing me!

Could you describe a typical day in the life of an agent at Book and Such Literary?

Rachel: Each day in my week looks a little different because I try to do certain tasks on specific days, but generally I check my emails and answer the really important ones first. Then I negotiate contracts, edit proposals, or read manuscripts for my clients; send out submissions to editors; and if I have time in a day I'll read queries and submissions from potential clients.  
How vital do you believe social media is to writers today? Is it necessary to sell a book?

Rachel: Having a presence online is extremely important these days. I'm not sure that you need to be everywhere, but joining Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads is a great start for an author. I also believe that a professional website is a must for all writers even if they don't have a book published yet. I will often go check an author's website if I'm considering representing him or her and I like to find a professional, friendly page with information about that person. If I can't find a website, I am less likely to take on that author as a client. It's necessary to sell a book in my opinion, but there are always exceptions.

How often do you fall in love with a query and possibly a partial, only to be disappointed the longer you read the manuscript?

Rachel: I'm guessing here, but I'd say out of the queries I receive I request only 1 proposal out of every 200 submissions. Out of the requested proposals, I ask for a full manuscript from 1 out of 30. Of the full manuscripts I read I only offer representation to 1 out of 5 authors. These statistics don't hold true for writers I meet at conferences. I request more proposals from conferences because I know that those authors are working hard on the writing craft and have invested time and money into making their manuscripts better.
What types of thirty-something nonfiction are you interested in seeing?

Rachel: I'm looking for issue-oriented fiction and nonfiction projects for thirty-somethings. Books that relate directly to what thirty-somethings are going through during that time of life. For example: reconnecting with a spouse after having children; coming to the end of having babies and dealing with knowing you are done with that part of your journey; and balancing work and a family. These types of ideas can be presented in fiction and nonfiction and I'm interested in both.
What are you currently reading?
Rachel: Robin Jones Gunn's FINALLY & FOREVER, the fourth book in the Katie Weldon series.
Please describe your dream client.

Rachel: I could write an entire blog series on qualities I look for in clients, but to keep it simple I want I client who is: easy to get along with, patient, a great writer, and willing to work hard.

I've also blogged recently on the topic of clients, so feel free to check out those blogs if you'd like to know more:

Rachel, thanks for a great interview.

Rachel: I'm looking forward to the conference next month!


  1. Thanks for featuring me on your blog! I'm honored. :) Warmly, Rachel

    1. It was definitely my pleasure, Rachel. Thanks so much!

  2. Great interview Kirk! Thanks for helping us get to know Rachel Kent a bit better.

    1. You're welcome, Connie. She seems like a great young woman.