Pub Rants

Number One Interview Question

 26 Comments |  Share This:    

STATUS: Gorgeous day here in Denver. Sara and I just had to have lunch out on a sidewalk café. You got to do it while the weather is nice.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? CLOSER TO FINE by Indigo Girls

With every interview I do, I invariably get asked whether it matters whether an agent is located in New York or not.

This question always makes me chuckle. Since I’m in Denver, I’m probably the last person to say so if it were true. But in my experience, it really hasn’t been a factor.

Editors care less about where I’m located and more about whether they are on my submission list when I’ve got a hot project to sell. Now that matters to them.

Those of us working outside the Big Apple travel there often enough. We do lots of lunches. We do the face time.

And here’s the big secret. When an issue arises, guess what New York Agents do? They pick up the phone to talk to the editor just like I do in Denver. They aren’t hopping on the subway to Random House on Broadway or wherever.

If something is crucial and important that I handle in person, well I’m going to hop on a plane. That’s still cheaper than office rent in Manhattan. (And yes, I’ve done that for several important meetings.)

I think where an agent is located matters more to writers and their perception of how the publishing business works. And that’s fine. If that’s a high on your criteria list of what you need your agent to have, then it is. For me, I think it’s more important to look at what the agent is doing in terms of a sales etc.

So does it matter where the agent is located? Don’t ask me because you know what my answer will be!

26 Responses

  1. Maprilynne said:

    Kristin, I don’t know your history, but I think maybe it is important to have worked in New York at some point. How else are you going to get your face time initially? Even if it’s a small stint, I think knowing how New York works would give you an edge with New York publishers.

    That being said, I definitely think you are right. How many useless agents live and work in New York? Clearly that is not the lynchpin.

  2. Anonymous said:

    I wouldn’t care if you worked on the moon. As long as you look at my stuff. As a Denverite born, Oklahoma raised brat I can say that it is one of the important factors of me choosing you.
    When in Denver I can stay with my father.

  3. Kristin said:


    Guess it isn’t important to have worked in NY…because if you look at Kristin’s background she didn’t spend any time there learning how to agent. And her sales are phenomenal for a relatively new agency. I would LOVE to have her as my agent…

    Nope. I don’t think it matters a whit.

  4. Chris Redding said:

    I think in this day and age of electronic communication it does not matter.
    My editor for a small Canadian press lives in Singapore. If we really need to chat we use a chat room. Otherwise the edits come via e-mail.
    I can’t think of any time when it is an emergency that I need to contact her.

  5. Anonymous said:


    It’s easy to get your face time. You simply call the editors and ask to meet with them. They are always willing to meet with agents, even brand spanking new ones, because as Kristin says, they want to know about ‘the next hot thing’ and they could care less who sends it to them, as long as they get it.

    So, for an out of town agent to do ‘face time’ they simply set up several days of meetings with editors when they come to town.

  6. Marion Gropen said:

    I agree completely that an agent’s past record and fit with your work matter far more than his/her location.

    And the point about NYC rent vs. plane fare is even more cogent. NYC commercial real estate is insane, even compared to the residential market.

  7. Anonymous said:

    For Kristin it wouldn’t matter a bit if that she doesn’t live in NY — I sat at a lunch table with her during the Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference — the woman is a shark.(I mean that in a good way). For a DIFFERENT agent — I think not being NY based might matter a great deal. Some agents aren’t as aggressive, don’t have the same fortitude, and your potential to sell your work under their guidance might suffer greatly. But I’d still vote for the individual agent than the zip code.

  8. Johnny Ray said:

    From what I have heard, New York agents have to take on many clients to pay for their high cost. Those outside of New York can make money on less clients and give much more attention to the ones they work with.
    I think that is the most important thing to look for in selecting an agent.

    Johnny Ray

  9. Anonymous said:

    This again?

    We get it. You can be an agent without living in the Big Apple. I’m sure the people who make the most of this particular issue are agents who live and work in NY; imagine the rent on the building that the Writer’s House agency is located in– if you’re paying that kind of scratch just for the Manhattan Mystique (thanks, Sex and the City), you’re going to tell everyone it’s the most important thing in the world.

    Please make this a non-issue. Talking about it makes you seem insecure.

  10. Anonymous said:

    Anon 10:24 —

    Yes, you’re sick of it, but it’s Kristin’s blog, you know, based on her own experiences. She stated at the beginning of the post that this NY question is her number one interview question. Good for you if you get it, but she’s not tailoring her blog according to your wants. If other people don’t get it, it’s probably worth repeating.

    Reprimanding a blogging agent whose topics are far from inane (unlike the blog where the agent mentions her damn cat every other post) only makes you look like a know-it-all.

  11. Anonymous said:

    Sorry to bother you. I won’t comment anymore. She’s talked this one to death, that’s all. Wasn’t reprimanding, just sick of what sounds like whining. Nothing against her, just against sycophantic douches like you. Get it? You commented on my opinion, so I’m commenting on yours. Douche. Next time just let it go and ignore the opinions that are not your own. ‘Kay?

  12. Anonymous said:

    LOL… re: agent who mentions her cat every other post!!

    I read that blog, too and I’m just amazed that writers submit to her!

    Kristen, on the other hand, is a class act… NYC zip code or no.

  13. cynjay said:

    My agent lives in Arizona and I live in the Bay Area, and I don’t think it matters at all.

    What does matter is that she knows who likes what and how to get it to them. She travels to NY a couple of times a year (or as needed) for face time, but she’s always on top of what’s happening in kidlit and that outweigh real estate every time.

  14. Victor R. said:

    Not to jump in line with the angry set, but Kristin does in fact state in the opening paragraph of her company’s website that a “powerhouse agency does not have to be located in New York”.
    Anyone and everyone who logs on to her site knows right off the bat that she’s in Denver, and believes she can do as good a job as New York agencies.

    That said, yeah, I agree— she continually carps on and on about not being in New York. I’ve only been dropping by here every three months or so for about a year and a half, and I’m very familiar with this obsession of hers.

    This constant need to remind others of this topic makes me believe that there might be something to it. Why is she so damned defensive about it? I don’t care if it’s the first question every interviewer asks (and really, how many interviews does an agent do in a year?); she should blow the questioner off and nullify the topic.

    Maybe NY agents are better. Heck, they’ve got the perfect location, haven’t they?

  15. Anonymous said:

    She needs to have a blockbuster of a bestseller to legitimize her little business venture. The “powerhouse agencies” of Manhattan are all that way not because they’ve sold sixty or seventy books: they’ve sold thousands, and had bestselling writers in their stables for years on end. Once she gets a Dean Koontz or a Dan Brown under her wing the respect will come.

  16. Linnea said:

    Wowsers you guys get hot under the collar about nothing! I’ve only been reading agent blogs for a few months so the question is new to me and I was interested in the answers. I found my first publisher on my own and my editor is clear across the country and we do just fine via email. I’m hoping to get an agent for my next book and it’s something I’ve wondered about as the first, and only, New York agent I worked with did such a poor job for me that I wasn’t interested in even getting an agent. Cruising agent blogs has changed my mind and I couldn’t care less where they live as long as they get results.

  17. Anonymous said:

    As someone who’s been visiting this blog for only a few months, I was pretty darn interested to see her insights on the New York issue.

    Thanks, Kristin, not just for answering this question, but for all you do to help us writers learn the ropes.

  18. cynjay said:

    I find it interesting that all of the most caustic comments are from some guy or gal named “anonymous”.

    You all have serious opinions, but you don’t seem to have names. Coincidence?

  19. Dave in SC said:

    Here I thought that blogs were for what’s on the blogger’s mind. Kristin gets asked this, so it’s on her mind, and she blogs about it. Take it or leave it – the choice is yours.

  20. Anonymous said:

    Listen, I’ve been reading this blog for a while. I even queried Kristen, before I chose my agent.

    However, I must agree,it does look as if she’s insecure about not being in NYC. I’m sure that’s not the case, so I would recommend that she dropped this subject. No need to talk about something that she’s already proven wrong by her actions.

    That “cat agent” could indeed use Kristen as an example. Oh, and stop putting so much personal info on her blog.

  21. horace t welderfarb said:

    cynjay– someone going by a pen name is just as anonymous as someone going by anonymous. you stink. watch this.

  22. Berni said:

    The thing I find so appealing about Kristin is that we are both in Denver! How nice it would be to have an agent you could “lunch” with often! I’m really looking for someone, when the time is right, that I can have “face” time with and we are there together, physically through it all! 🙂 I just don’t think it’s important to have a NY address to be an agent. Just like I don’t think it matters if you live in “Pin dot” Oklahoma or New York City as a writer. In this day and age the job can be done anywere!