Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 26, 2018

Agent of the Month Liza Fleissig – Interview Part Three

Liza Fleissig, with her partner Ginger Harris-Dontzin, opened the Liza Royce Agency (LRA) in early 2011. A cross-platform company providing development, representation, and strategic career management for clients in all media, their goal is to represent clients in all stages of their careers, from the most established to those developing their craft, as well as debuts. Both former partners in NYC based litigation law firms, Liza and Ginger bring a combined 40 years of negotiating experience to the field. This background, along with connections rooted in publishing, movies and television, allowed them to focus and build on a referral based clientele.

From picture books through adult projects, fiction and non-fiction, screenplays to stage works, LRA welcomes strong voices and plot driven works. Their inaugural books became available in stores January 2013.  Their first was an Edgar nominee, another was an Indie Next Pick, and two others were optioned for film. LRA’s success began right out of the gate.

HERE IS PART THREE OF INTERVIEW WITH LIZA:

How do you like to communicate (email vs. phone)? And how often do you communicate during the submission process?

Most communication is by email only because it gives me the flexibility to respond at any hour of the day or night. But, there are definitely times that email won’t suffice and/or a phone call is easier.  That said, all clients have access to my private cell. As for the submissions process, as you might expect, communication is more intense, but even then it ebbs and flows depending on where we are in the process. If we are discussing strategy of submissions, there can be a flurry of communications. If we are in the process of waiting – ah … that painful time waiting – we might not speak for a couple of weeks. However, I am ALWAYS reachable for hand holding J

What happens if you don’t sell a book? Would you drop the writer if he or she wanted to self-publish that one book?

What? Not sell a book? Sigh… yes that can happen depending on where the pendulum is swinging. But to drop a writer over that? NO WAY. Taking on an author means we believe in the writing, — we don’t all of a sudden not like the project just because of industry push back. So, there are several options: put in a drawer and wait out the market while turning to something else; revise with an overhaul based on resonating feedback; keep on the back burner and wait to see if another book can break out first (making author’s work in more demand); and yes, even help facilitate a hybrid arrangement or have the author self-publish.

Self-publishing is not a dirty word and serves tons of different purposes. For our authors specifically, it is usually a pet project that might not be as commercial as their other projects and/or for their loyal readership, so it’s a chance for them to try something new on the side. But, even in those cases, we are always happy to rep their subsidiary rights. A perfect example: we just sold Jenny Bardsley’s Puritan Coven series to Tantor Media in a 3 book audio deal. Those books are self-published and may I add, ROCKING SALES.

How many editors do you go to before giving up?

It depends. Since we don’t go very wide, we’ve sold books in a week and we’ve sold books in a year (though the average is probably closer to 4-8 weeks). So, depending on how we hit out the gate, we might go to one editor and get it sold in an exclusive submission, or it might take 30 editors before we find the right home. And again, giving up is all relative. We never really consider “giving up” an option as much as shelving a project until better timing and circumstances present. Any book we take on we love and believe in regardless of market conditions.

What do you think of digital books?

LOVE THEM. What a wonderful way to get books out in the world at a price point most people can afford. So, while I personally love the feel of a book in my hands, I am grateful for the opportunity to reach a wide audience. It also doesn’t hurt that readers can carry more than one of my books away on vacation when they buy digital. Can you say binge read anyone??

Do you handle your own foreign/film rights contracts or does your firm have someone else who handles those contracts?

We work with various co-agents for all subsidiary rights, though often the deals originate through LRA.

Do you see any new trends building in the industry?

There are always trends, but by the time you talk about them, they have faded. So write what you know, write what you love, write what matters to you, and you can BE the industry trend.

Any words of wisdom on how a writer can improve their writing, secure an agent, and get published?

Conferences, writing groups, critique groups, retreats… ANYTHING that keeps the pen rolling. Even the most seasoned writers continue to improve with every revision, so working on your craft never gets old. And, when combined with a strong platform, that makes for a killer package and the rest will fall into place. It also never hurts to be gracious and support other authors. They will remember you when it’s your turn.

Any new book contracts you can share with us?

VERY excited to share that we recently sold to Running Press Kids/Hachette Erica George’s YA debut, WORDS COMPOSE OF SEA AND SKY, with poetry contributed by Jamie Gelman! We also sold a poignant middle grade novel in verse in a pre-empt, and another woman in stem PB bio. You’ll have to stay tuned to find out more details when announced later this year.

Would you like to attend writer’s conferences, workshops, and writer’s retreats, etc?

YES YES and YES

Thank you Liza for your thoughtful answers to the interview question. It has given writers more incite to you and your agency.

STOP BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR FIRST PAGE RESULTS!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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