Agent Interview: Katelyn Uplinger
I AM THRILLED to welcome another wonderful agent to the blog today to give us that all important insight into, not only their wishlist, but also what kind of agent they are and what they're looking for in their authors.
Please meet Katelyn Uplinger with the D4EO Literary Agency!
So, Katelyn, you’re a literary agent… Tell us all about how that happened!
When I was in college I couldn’t decide if I’d rather be an editor or agent. I don’t live in NYC and there weren’t as many remote opportunities back then like there are today. Being able to get my foot in the door with an editing internship sent me sailing in that direction with publishing houses. However, I always regretted not getting to intern for an agency too. A few years into editing there were more remote opportunities popping up and so I went for it and landed an internship with an agency. I discovered I really enjoyed the work and knew I wanted to make the switch. It took me several agencies where I held internship and assistant positions while still editing to get to where I am today. I’m glad I started as an editor though because I use my editing skills every day as an agent.
And how has it been going so far?
As well as being a new agent can go I’d say. I’ve signed some fantastic clients and have great projects on my plate. It seems to be a well-kept secret that being a new agent is hard, especially in the current state of the market where it is getting harder and harder to break out new authors. It takes time to build a client list and sales in this slow industry. Being an agent isn’t for the impatient or those who give up easily.
What’s on your current wishlist?
I have been on the hunt for a chilling historical horror. In fantasy I would like some lesser-known mythologies, like Aztec or Incan mythology. Across the board in all genres I represent, I love and crave unique settings, whether it’s a cave underground, Antarctica, or the Ice Age. I’m also looking to expand my nonfiction list with projects about history, especially fun or weird history.
And what are you definitely not looking for right now?
I’m not a fan of cop procedurals or other detective and thriller stories revolving around the CIA, FBI, terrorists, drugs, or crime gangs.
Can you tell us what it is that makes you request additional material? What is it that leads to a full request? And what keeps you reading to the final pages?
I love a story that has something unique about the concept or characters that I can pinpoint right away. I get a lot of similar concepts in my slush, so any fresh concepts or takes I notice. If I like the concept of the query and the sample is well written and leaves me wanting to keep reading, I request more. There are a lot of samples I enjoy but don’t feel like I am dying to keep reading and that is my biggest determining factor in when to request more.
When it comes to the full requests that keep me reading until the end, they keep the momentum moving past those opening chapters and remain strong all the way through. These ones don’t drop the ball on stakes or pacing like I’ve seen many do. They get me excited to see how the story ends. I usually read a full manuscript over multiple sittings, so a story needs to make me eager to pick it back up again. This is when most get a rejection, when I put the story down and can’t bring myself to pick it back up or discover I’m more eager to get back to a different requested full.
So, when you fall in love with a manuscript, what happens next?
When I’m nearing the end of a project and find myself considering offering, I often shoot the author an email to make sure the project is still available (if you receive an offer remember to inform other agents!) and to see what future projects they have in the works. I’ll also check out the author’s social media and website to make sure it looks professional and that there are no red flags. If everything I’ve seen makes me think the client’s work would be a good fit for my list, then I contact the author to see about setting up a phone call to discuss working together.
What kind of agent are you? How do you approach your side of the business arrangement? What should a potential client expect from you as their agent?
When it comes to what kind of agent I am, every client wants to know if I’m editorial, which I am. Most of my clients tend to be strong at the line level and so we focus on developmental edits together. I offer to authors I’m excited to work with and whose writing I’m eager to represent. When I sign clients I’m thinking long term and I see it as my job to guide my clients every step of the way. A fun little fact about what to expect from me is a recommended reading list of craft and publishing books I give every client to help not only with their writing, but what to expect when it comes to being a published author.
And, importantly, what do you expect from your clients?
Outside of putting in the work on your end on things like revisions and meeting deadlines, I want my clients to be communicative if they have questions or need anything. Don’t be afraid to contact your agent! Most importantly, I expect my clients to be able to keep going when publishing gets tough. Publishing is never an easy industry and it is always full of waiting and rejection.
All writers have dreams and goals – win an award, be a bestseller, get a movie deal – but what dreams do you have as an agent?
A lot of my dreams and goals revolve around success for my clients, like meeting the above goals for them since as an agent my job revolves around the careers of my clients. However, publishing is a slow industry, so I try to focus on more immediate dreams and goals. Right now as a new agent I’m focusing on building my client list and getting myself established.
And, most importantly, things we all need to know...
Ketchup or mayo? - Ketchup!
E-book or paperback? - E-books. Their convenience wins out for me.
Day or night? - I admit I’m a night owl.
Walk or drive? - Walk.
Beach or mountains? - Beach! I live in a mountainous area and don’t get to visit the beach enough.
Dogs or cats? - I like both, but I have to pick cats because I’m allergic to dogs.
Chocolate or chips? - Chocolate.
Sun or rain? - Sun.
Inside or outside? - Outside. The only season I’m not outside as much as possible is winter.
Drama or comedy? - Comedy. I like to laugh a lot.
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