Interview with agent Natalie Fischer

>I know I’ve already posted this, but I wanted to give it it’s own page.  I’m pretty sure she deserves it!  I’ve also updated information and added links for you to reach her more easily, should you be interested.

Natalie M. Fischer is a Literary Agent and office assistant at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. An honors graduate of the University of San Diego, California, Natalie holds a B.A. in Literature/Writing. She started as an intern at the Agency in 2007, after which time she left to write author profiles and book reviews for the San Diego Union Tribune. Finding that journalism was just not for her, she returned to work full-time at the Dijkstra Agency in April 2009, and started building her own client list in September of that same year.

Read a typical day in Natalie’s work-life here!

Natalie is actively seeking new clients, and is especially interested in talented, hard-working new authors with a fresh, unique voice and hook. Her specialty is commercial fiction, with an emphasis in children’s literature (from picture book-YA/Teen), romance (contemporary and historical), historical fiction, multi-cultural fiction, paranormal, sci-fi/fantasy in YA or romance only, fairy-tale/legend spin-offs, and “beautiful dark” novels. She will also consider select memoir (has to be really unique) and that amazing project she never even knew she was looking for! She is always drawn to an open and positive attitude in an author, good grammar, and fantastical, engaging and sexy plots.

The Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency is one of the most respected literary agencies in the United States. With over 150 authors based around the world, SDLA represents an impressive client roster, which is both selective and eclectic. Founded in the early 1980’s, the Agency has helped guide the illustrious careers of many best-selling authors across a broad spectrum of genres, including Maxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan, Lisa See, Melinda Long, Janell Cannon, Diane Mott Davidson, Peter Irons, David Landes, Mike Davis, Chalmers Johnson and Susan Faludi, among others.

Read more about the agency on their website, and follow Natalie on Twitter @Natalie_Fischer!

Want additional info on Natalie?

Agent Spotlight
Teens Writing for Teens Interview
Let the Words Flow Interview

And for kicks, a cheat-sheet of tricky grammar (so you don’t blow your submission!).

Bio and picture courtesy of Natalie’s website. 

JS:  How did you become an agent?
NF:  By writing and interning. By writing, I learned what the heck an agent was, and by interning at the agency for two years and doing first reads and edits for romance agent Kevan Lyon (now of Marsal Lyon Literary), I learned exactly what an agent does. After starting a position here at the Dijkstra Agency in 2009 and getting the green light in September to start building my own list, I was an agent!
JS:  Tell us about a recent project you’ve sold.  (You can skip this one if you don’t feel comfortable talking about it.)
NF:  Most recent project was a lovely, lovely picture book, called RED IS A CHILI PEPPER (title pending). It’s quite an inspiring story, actually, how this one came about. The manuscript was sent in to the editor last SEPTEMBER, and, only last MARCH did she have time to really read and decide she loved it! It can take quite a while for things to happen in this business (especially in children’s literature), so don’t give up!
JS:  Are there any books coming out now that have you excited?
NF:  Oy, I just want to catch up with my already-purchased reading before I even think about this question. I have a two-foot pile next to my desk of MUST reads, and a bookshelf of unread books to read…eventually.
JS:  What are you looking for right now when tackling the slush pile?
NF:  RIGHT NOW at this moment, I’m looking for well-written, steamy romances (I’d love to find a time-travel romance, or a GOOD Regency or Victorian, or something like Jude Deveraux’s TEMPTATION) and REALLY unique fantasy/sci-fi YA. As in, not just a spin off, but in a whole class of its own. Also, well-written, well-plotted historical fiction.
JS:  What are you sick of seeing in queries that come across your desk?
NF:  Vampire novels, adult chick lit, “this is exclusive” even though we’re a no response if not interested agency, rhetorical questions, typos, a FANTASTIC premise that isn’t well-executed, pictures, abuse memoirs, and really, anything that makes me go “ick.”
JS:  Name three things that make you stop reading every time they crop up in a submission.
NF:
1.     Word count 100,000 or over
2.     Present tense (this is SO hard to do in my opinion)
3.     Whiney, bratty, snotty, or rude characters (snarky is ok)
JS:  How do you know when you’ve got “the one” sitting in front of you?
NF:  If I’ve read it and I want to write back to the author at one o’clock in the morning OMG but have to restrain myself to remain professional.
JS:  Will you be at any upcoming writers’ conferences where writers can meet and pitch you?
NF:  The next event I have scheduled is a panel at the Ventura Book Festival in July, and after that I’ll be at the Society of Southwestern Authors’ Conference in AZ. Staying pretty local for a while.
JS:  Do you have any advice on how writers can maximize their success in this changing industry?
NF:  Keep reading. The best way to soak in what you want to write is to read it, see what’s out there and what’s working. Stay tuned to discussions on Twitter, blogs, etc. And keep on persevering.
JS:  What is something about you writers would be surprised to hear?
NF:  I’m pretty “superstitious,” you might say. Any time I pass a patch of clovers I look for a four-leafed one (my five-leaf clover is taped to my computer). I believe in gut “feelings” and intuition, like to consult the online magic-eight ball on occasion (though, so far, it hasn’t really been all that reliable), and am a through-and-through Cancer. I also keep thinking of these fantastic ideas for novels that I’m never going to write. L
I’d also like to add that I’m pretty approachable. I know most agents and editors scare the bejeebes out of writers, but really, we’re just over-caffeinated book nerds like you. I hate getting calls about submissions, but emailed questions I’m always happy to answer. 
And I’m obsessed with SUPERNATURAL. And cats.
JS:  Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t talked about yet?
NF:  One of my favorite quotes comes from Lady Gaga, speaking to her younger self: “Don’t give up bitch; you’ve got a long way to go.”
JS:  How hands-on are you in terms of editing? How much input do you expect to have with your clients’ work?
NF:  I’m pretty well known as a hands-on agent. I expect any client I sign to be open to suggestion, and I always discuss this upfront. I don’t expect to re-write a book, and I also expect to have to back off if the writer absolutely feels that what I’m suggesting is not best for their work. I really enjoy a collaborative working relationship.
JS:  Best way for writers to submit to you?
NF:  Hard copy, unless requested, then by email. Submission guidelines are available at www.dijkstraagency.com   (NOTE:  Natalie is now accepting email submissions.  You can send them to nfsubmissions@dijkstraagency.com ONLY.  Please send query, synopsis, and the first 15 pages in the BODY of the email.)
Bonus Question: What is your favorite way to relax on a warm summer’s eve?
NF:  Drink wine and play Pictionary with a small group of good friends.

One Response to “Interview with agent Natalie Fischer”

  1. Meagan Spooner says:

    >So… maybe I'm just speaking for me… but if it was MY manuscript, I certainly wouldn't mind you emailing me at 1 AM. I'm probably sitting there refreshing my email like a crazy person anyway.

    No, but seriously (not that I wasn't serious before) this is a great interview! And awesome that it gets its own page, makes it nice and easy to find. I like that we get to see a bit about what makes Ms. Fischer tick. Cats! Pictionary! Supernatural! These are the sorts of things that help remind us that agents are human beings. Which, frankly, is sometimes necessary! 🙂

    Also, re Lady Gaga: BEST advice. Made me smile!