Elizabeth Kracht is a literary agent at Kimberley Cameron and Associates based in California and, I'm privileged to say, is a friend of mine. I met Liz back in 2013 at a writer's conference at the University of New Mexico when I pitched one of my manuscripts to her. I also attended a writer's retreat in south Texas where Elizabeth spoke and taught - see my Texas Writing Retreat Recap blog for more on that.
Liz got her start in the literary world at an English-language newspaper in Puerto Rico where she worked as a copy-editor after earning her BA in English. She joined Kimberley Cameron and Associates in 2010. You can find her on Twitter and on her Agency's blog.
She was kind enough to take the time to let me interview her - so, on with the questions.
The all important wish list question....What is on your current MSWL? What are you looking to find in fiction and in non-fiction?
Nonfiction: sexuality, high concept, memoir, narrative, pet stories, health, prescriptive, self-help, spirituality, true crime
Fiction: literary, women's, historical, mystery/thriller, romance
Word on the street is that you fancy a canoe race. Can you confirm or deny this?
I can neither confirm nor deny this. I do know that Chuck Sambuchino has an iron stomach based on this "breakfast of champions."
What are your biggest query pet peeves?
When authors get too quirky or conversational or the query gets too lengthy. The straightforward business approach is best. Your work will stand out if you leave your ego out of your query and hit us with something akin to a business letter.
You are a very approachable person and (I know) you make authors feel comfortable when pitching to you. If you could lay down the law across the board for conference ethic when it comes to authors approaching agents, what would you set forth (besides not pitching to agents in the bathroom)?
My suggestion would be to hit agents earlier in the day rather than later (outside of pitch times). After a long day of hearing pitches, if you sit at a table with an agent, try not to talk business (make them laugh instead). Keep good physical boundaries.
Can you give us some insight to your author - agent relationship? Specifically, are you more of an editorial agent who is willing to work with an author you feel has potential that needs to be nurtured or coached, or at this point in you career are you looking for manuscripts that are ready to be submitted out to publishers?
I was able to work with authors developmentally earlier in my career, much more than I am now. In order to make it as an agent in this industry, I now find that I don't have any time for development (I'm wiser now and have a growing list of clients). So, I'm looking to read a project once (maybe twice) before I go out the door with it. Of course, if there is a consensus amongst editors that there is a problem with a manuscript I'm shopping, I will go back and work on it with the author (I'm in it for the long haul). I recently finished working with an author on a chapter-by-chapter rewrite and we sold the project.
Besides dream sequences, riding in the car, and walking across the room in thought, what are some openings you suggest writers avoid?
I think this about covers it. I suggest avoiding too much lead-in to your chapters. Start sharp.
How important is an author's platform to you when you are considering signing them? Do you look them up to see if they have a presence online? Why or why not?
I will look an author up online to see what they have going on. Most important is their willingness to establish a presence than to already have one. Though, if we're talking nonfiction, hopefully they've been long established online and elsewhere.
I'm excited to read Joe Clifford's LAMENTATION that came out recently. What else is out from your authors that we should keep an eye on?
The next book I have coming out, scheduled for release in early April, is LINCOLN'S BODYGUARD (Oceanview Publishing) by Tj Turner, which is an alternative historical thriller based on the premise: What if President Lincoln had lived? Also, SOULDRIFTER by Garrett Calcaterra, the second book in the Dreamwielder Series, will be out soon through Diversion Books as well as M.E. Parker's science fiction debut JONESBRIDGE: ECHOES OF HINTERLAND. Joe Clifford recently signed a contract with Oceanview for his thriller DECEMBER BOYS, the second book in the Lamentation Series. And Mia Thompson's third book in the new adult, thriller Sapphire Series, SENTENCING SAPPHIRE, is due out through Diversion in late spring, early summer.
What was your favorite query you received this past year?
I thought I might get a date out of this one... Alas, he is happily married. Now I'm just hoping for the helicopter ride. I even promised to do a trade, developmental edit on the manuscript in exchange for a helicopter ride... I barter editorial services for adventure.
Dear Ms. Kracht,
I am a well-traveled, dog-loving, fiction writer in search of an agent interested in a long term relationship. She should appreciate well-intentioned but flawed characters, Pinot Noir, and watching the sunset from my helicopter (though not necessarily at the same time). [Blank] balances the nuances of modern, urban relationships with the complexities of today's pressing issues. Thank you in advance for your time.
We really need to convince Paul Cuclis to host another boutique conference. The Texas Writer’s Retreat was the highlight of 2014. There were a lot of people who said, "Houston? In August?" But I had more fun at this conference than any other, even though I had a lot of reading to get through.
Many thanks to Elizabeth for taking time out of her hectic schedule to do this interview. And yes, we really do need to convince Paul to host another conference - I wouldn't miss it.
Thanks for reading.