Agent Interviews: Natalie Fischer

28 Jul


As a blog fiercely dedicated to helping readers understand the inner-workings of the publishing industry, we thought it might be fun to start a new series in which we interviewed literary agents we’ve had the pleasure of working with. Some of us are signed, and some have interned with agencies, and we felt that the amount of knowledge we’ve gained through these experiences should be shared with our readership as well. As gatekeepers to the industry, agents play a vital part in getting your book published. Each agent and agency does things a little bit different, so hopefully these interviews will help you all understand what they do a little bit better, and what makes life in this industry so special! And, who knows? Maybe you’ll find an agent who could be the perfect fit for that novel you’re writing!

Love,

Sammy

~~~

 

Introducing Natalie M. Fischer of the

Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency

Natalie was interviewed by her client, LTWF contributor Julie Eshbaugh

Natalie Fischer,literary agent

LTWF: How did you find your way to the Sandra Dijkstra agency?

Natalie Fischer:  By accident (which, funny enough, is how many of us ended up here!). When I was a sophomore in college, I randomly started searching for internship listings on our school job site, even though I knew I didn’t want to start until my Junior year, and…there it was. THE PERFECT INTERNSHIP. After freaking out over my resume and cover letter, dancing when I got an interview, and dancing/crying/jumping up and down when I was accepted for the position (starting immediately but what did that matter; you FIT opportunities to your schedule), I had my foot in the door. After graduation, I asked them to keep me in mind for any positions that opened up, which is how I became an office assistant…and later agent!

LTWF: When did you know you wanted to get into publishing?  When did you know the correct role for you was agenting?

Natalie Fischer:  I knew I wanted to go in publishing from the time I was ten years old. I THOUGHT I wanted to go into the writing side of things. After writing a few YAs, and later romance novels (one of which landed me MY agent), I made it as far as ed board at a few houses, and general consensus was: great writing, needs plot. Ouch. Until I started helping one of the former Dijkstra agents with her clients/slush one-on-one…and found a whole new world. It wasn’t until I started assisting the contracts manager at our office and fell in LOVE with negotiating that I realized where I really belonged: pitching and selling fabulous talent. Because of my own query/rejection/writing background, I have a little more insight and sympathy for writers than some other agents, and I’m also very involved editorially with my clients. I found the perfect balance for me right in the middle of both worlds!

LTWF: Which genres do you represent and how did you choose them?

Natalie Fischer:  I represent romance (all genres), children’s (PB-Teen, no thrillers), historical fiction and select memoir/non-fiction (projects that I find really unique and connect with). I “chose” these genres because they’re what I read for fun, i.e. what I know. I don’t read history books, nor am I that interested in reading them, so I don’t really know that much about what’s already out there, nor do I know who buys it. That’s my personal logic, at least, on what I represent.

LTWF: You use some unique methods, including “scouting on the internet,” to search for new clients.  Can you talk about this and give unrepresented writers some tips on how to make themselves visible to agents?

Natalie Fischer:  Everyone wants to know about the scouting! I lurk, really, and give it a better name is all…

Tips to make yourself visible: find who is making THEMSELVES visible, via blogs/twitter, and follow them. You’ll learn a lot, not only about personal taste, but publishing. Once you get up the nerve to start interacting (and please do!!! I LOVE hearing from people on twitter), make sure you have a blog of your own, with a short (oh, say, 200 word) writing sample and paragraph of your hottest project linked to your name… Lurkers/scouters such as myself WILL click on those links. Especially ones in writing forums, such as absolutewrite.com, or romancedivas.com, etc.  And for Pete’s sake, keep it professional. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot; go rant over a beer, not over twitter.

LTWF: What about your current clients made you want to sign them?

Natalie Fischer:  Their work. As absolutely amazing as each one of my clients is, their work sold me. However, I never would have even THOUGHT to sign any of them if they’d ever once displayed one ounce of non-professionalism in the query stage. I’m not saying each one followed guidelines, believe it or not; but if I called them out on it (which I did), there were no “buts” about it. They respectfully corrected suit. Which may make me sound like a hard ass, but really, I don’t remember when people don’t follow guidelines; I remember when they talk back. (Emailing to check in on an email submission…which I would have deleted for not following guidelines, also counts as talking back.)

LTWF: Finish this sentence: “I would love to see more…”

Natalie Fischer:  Romance submissions (hint hint).

LTWF: What’s currently at the top of your To Be Read pile?

Natalie Fischer:  Client or non-client? Published or un? I have four TBR piles; none is less than a foot high (except my client pile, which hovers around a constant half-foot. I keep this one moving the most rapidly. Clients get priority). Let’s see: client, a revised ms, non-client, a contest critique, published, The Help. Or Some Like it Hot. Or The Duff. Or The Good Daughter. Or… oh who am I kidding, if I ever get time, I’ll DEVOUR Some Like it Hot and move onto The Duff. (I’m horribly behind, clearly; trying to “keep current” ends up…in this range).

LTWF: And now, for a non-publishy question! What do you like to do when you’re not being an agent?

Natalie Fischer:  Is that a trick question?

I love game nights, red wine, dinner parties (which I do NOT cook for), renting movies, and sitting in the sun. And, because I think it’s also relative, I’m a Cancer and a cat person.

Favorite TV shows: Supernatural, Ghost Whisperer, House, Bones, CSI: Las Vegas, Law and Order: SVU, Cake Boss, Family Guy, Simpsons, NCIS, Eureka (I love connecting with people on the random shows I like or used to watch.)

Please read and follow The Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency’s submission guidelines very carefully.  Natalie only accepts queries by snail mail, and asks that very specific material be included.  You can read the agency’s submission guidelines here.  You can also follow her extremely helpful twitter feed here.
~~~

Sammy Bina is a fifth year college senior, majoring in Creative Writing. She is currently querying her adult dystopian novel, THE AGE OF NEVER GROWING OLD, working on a YA paranormal romance, and interns at the Elaine P. English Literary Agency in Washington, DC. You can follow her blog, or find her on twitter.

~~~

Julie Eshbaugh is represented by Natalie Fischer of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. You can follow her on LiveJournal here and on Twitter here.


 

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24 Responses to “Agent Interviews: Natalie Fischer”

  1. Kat Zhang July 28, 2010 at 12:09 AM #

    What a great interview! Yay 😀 Ms. Fischer sounds like a wonderful agent. She was certainly very lovely as a judge for the first lines contest at Adventures in Children’s Publishing!

    • Julie Eshbaugh July 28, 2010 at 12:32 AM #

      Hey Kat! Thanks for the comment. Natalie is in fact a gem, both as an agent and as a person. 🙂

  2. Meagan Spooner July 28, 2010 at 12:34 AM #

    Woohoo, an agent who’s a TV fan! I love hearing about what shows people like, because I love finding the ones we’ve got in common. It says a lot about people, just like their favorite books.

    Great interview, Julie! In particular, the advice about being scouted is really helpful. I saw Ms. Fischer mention this on Twitter during an #askagent and was a bit too shy to ask exactly how one attracts that kind of attention.

    One thing I’d love to know is how editorial she is as an agent. As a writer about to start seeking representation, that’s something that’s always at the back of my mind, and something that seems to vary a LOT depending on the agent.

    • Julie Eshbaugh July 28, 2010 at 9:50 AM #

      Hi Meagan! I can tell you my experience, and I expect that Natalie will also answer you herself once the Pacific Time Zone peeps join us. 😉 As Natalie says in the interview, she has experience and knowledge on the writing end. However, she hasn’t pulled my MS apart and requested major re-writes. In fact, the only significant revisions have been in response to an editor, and even then, Natalie said it was my call. However, that said, if you NEED and WANT her help in revising, you know you can trust what she recommends. I hope that helps!

      • Meagan Spooner July 28, 2010 at 5:28 PM #

        Thank you SO much. Seriously, it’s so helpful to have a client’s perspective on an agent. I wish I could find information like this on ALL the agents I’m interested in! Ms. Fischer sounds like a great agent, and each little chunk of information just strengthens that impression. 🙂

  3. elle_strauss July 28, 2010 at 12:44 AM #

    Great interview! I’m learning so much about Natalie today!

    • Julie Eshbaugh July 28, 2010 at 9:40 AM #

      Hey Elle! I know; I saw that other post with her as well! Just for cross-reference (and for those who would like to know what an agent like Natalie does all day) check out this blog post.
      Thanks for the comment! :)

  4. Launo July 28, 2010 at 8:35 AM #

    Very informative! The advices and tips were very helpful.

    • Julie Eshbaugh July 28, 2010 at 9:43 AM #

      Hi Launo! Thanks for the comment. Natalie has great advice to give. She’s also very accessible, which helps a lot! Just check out her Twitter feed and you’ll see what I mean. 🙂

  5. Vanessa July 28, 2010 at 11:18 AM #

    This was such a great interview!!! I loved the non-publishing related question :p

    • Julie Eshbaugh July 28, 2010 at 12:23 PM #

      LOL thanks V! I wish I could take credit for the questions, but they all originated with Sammy and her idea to interview Naomi Hackenberg. I just tweeked them where needed. But Natalie’s answer to that Q is awesome. 🙂

  6. Gabriela Da Silva July 28, 2010 at 12:34 PM #

    Well this was one interesting interview! I’m just starting to get into the agent-searching, query-learning world, so this is definitely very very useful for me. I think I’ll try visiting the links you mentioned, and am now following on twitter 😛

    Kudos to both interviewer and interviewee!

    • Julie Eshbaugh July 28, 2010 at 3:47 PM #

      Thanks Gabriela! I’m sure you will definitely enjoy following Natalie on twitter. I’m glad you found the interview useful 🙂

  7. Natalie Fischer July 28, 2010 at 3:35 PM #

    Hi Meagan!

    Just to personally answer your question about how editorial I am, Julie said it very well; edits are always your choice (you don’t have to agree with me), though I hope you trust my judgement. I’m not going to re-write your book for you, but I will make suggestions on how to tighten areas/sentences/plot holes. I use track changes going through at least once, where I’ll fix typos/make deletions, but usually, I edit the good ol fashioned way: pen to paper.

    Hope this helps!
    Natalie

    • Meagan Spooner July 28, 2010 at 5:25 PM #

      Thank you so much for answering my question! That all makes a lot of sense to me. When I first started the process of researching agents I was surprised to learn that there was any editorial aspect at all, but I’m quite excited about it. One more set of eyes to catch any glaring issues before it goes to the editors? Definitely! I know I want someone who’s willing to look over the ms that way.

      This interview has been tremendously helpful. Thanks again to both interviewer and interviewee!

  8. Theresa Milstein July 28, 2010 at 6:52 PM #

    Great interview. Natalie Fischer sounds like a the kind of person and agent I’d want to know. Now I’ll have to check if my manuscript is a good fit.

    The lurking part is intriguing. I wonder if agents have looked at my blog. Based on her advice, I’m adding writing samples to my blog right NOW.

    • Julie Eshbaugh July 28, 2010 at 9:31 PM #

      Hey Theresa! Thanks for commenting. And you are so right; you never know who is checking out your blog. Here at LTWF we’ve had two bloggers who talked about their manuscripts get requests for sample pages from agents who just “dropped by.” So best of luck to you!!! 🙂

  9. Biljana July 29, 2010 at 1:02 AM #

    This is a really great interview! Great questions, great answer :). The personal touches made it a great read :).

    • Julie Eshbaugh July 30, 2010 at 9:07 AM #

      Thanks Biljana! Natalie is very charming and personable, and I think that really came through in the interview. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  10. Armith-Greenleaf July 29, 2010 at 4:26 PM #

    Very good section! It’ll help clear some doubts about the publishing world, and for us to realize that, oh my, agents are real life people too! 😀 Good job.

    • Julie Eshbaugh July 30, 2010 at 9:13 AM #

      Thanks for the comment! Yes, up in their ivory towers, they are still real human beings like the rest of us! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the interview.

  11. Rowenna July 29, 2010 at 4:47 PM #

    Great interview! I love your questions, Julie–nice tweaking, if that’s all you’ll take credit for 🙂

    Thanks for your insight, Natalie–and I’m really glad to see I’m not the only person under the age of 50 who loves NCIS. 🙂

    • hipsterama July 30, 2010 at 10:07 AM #

      Thanks for the comment, Rowenna! Yes, all I can claim credit for is tweaking Sammy’s original Qs from her interview with Naomi Hackenberg. But Natalie’s a wonderfully charming person, and I think that comes through in the interview. (As is Naomi, of course!) Oh, and for the record, I’m still under 50 and also enjoy NCIS. 🙂

  12. Laura Lofgreen September 15, 2010 at 3:20 AM #

    THank you for such a great interview. I really like this agent and would love to work with her in the future.

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