Thursday, January 20, 2011

Interview with agent Victoria Marini

Happy Thursday everyone! For my post today, I have managed to score an exclusive interview with the fabulous agent, Victoria Marini. Enjoy!

1) Hi Victoria! Firstly, for all those who might not know, can you give us a brief explanation as to who you are and your background in the publishing industry?

Sure thing. I’m originally from Pennsylvania. I went to university in New York and got a B.A in English. I worked at a dog kennel for a while. My first job in publishing was for a film & television rights assistant, but Hollywood wasn’t for me. Then, I was an assistant at Sterling Lord Literistic for a brief period before I came to Gelfman Schneider as an agency assistant in 2009. Later, I was promoted to an associate agent and I’ve been slowly building a client list. Now, I’m at the point where I am aggressively building my list.

2) What is something we don't know about you that has nothing to do with agenting?

I eat TERRIBLY when left to my own devices; donuts, cupcakes, pizza, mac n’ cheese, chocolate etc… If its primary ingredient is sugar or sodium, I want it.

3) What was the last published book you read and loved?

I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but THE HUNGER GAMES. I don’t mean the trilogy. I was not nearly as fond of CATCHING FIRE or MOCKINGJAY, but I so thoroughly loved THE HUNGER GAMES.

4) I know you get this question often, but what would you really love to find in your slush pile? What are you kind of sick of?

I’d love to find a male POV sci-fi YA. I’d love to find High School Noir. I love gothic tales and re-imagined classics. I’d like a YA ghost story, or something spooky and magical in the vain of Neil Gaiman (who wouldn’t though, right?!). I want fantasy, whimsy, magic. I’d love to find a fast-paced, contemporary YA like the Bourne identity, but written so beautifully I can’t stand it. I want to find something that makes me cry, laugh out loud or pace around my apartment with anxiety. I want a gritty urban fantasy with tension. I want a paranormal game of cat and mouse. I also take on memoirs, but I am super picky and the hook needs to be astounding.

I’m tired of underdeveloped worlds and people; of reading something with a great idea and plot, but finding I’m not engaging with the characters or living in their world. I’m tired of an over developed sense of the sentimental. I’m also really over memoirs that try to impress me with gimmicks and superficial humor. I don’t want to think you were the bad girl or the cool kid in High School, I want to know you.

5) Every agent-client relationship is different. What kind of relationship do you like to have with your clients?

I’m very editorial and very open door. I always want to communicate and brainstorm. I try to encourage my clients to have a web presence and keep educating themselves about this business, and I try to engage in the same activities on their behalf. I think it’s my job to keep abreast of the changes happening in digital publishing, social networking, transmedia marketing etc… I try to explain as much as I can about what I am doing and why. I am also very happy to listen and work with my clients if they’d prefer to do something differently. I’m very hands-on.

6) Say you started reading an amazing manuscript that you were falling in love with. What would be the thing that would put you off enough for you to then say, sorry but no thanks?

This has happened to me before, and the few times it’s happened, it’s because the book doesn’t feel complete. I’ll notice plot holes, rushed pacing, forced endings, or the focus slowly shifts and the world-building falls apart or the characters stop growing.

7) From what you've experienced, what is the most common thing queriers are doing wrong?

I’ve been very lucky in that the queries I get are usually very well-written. I think the biggest mistakes are failure to do homework (pitching me a political thriller, for example) and talking more about why [you] wrote the book, why [you] love to write, how friends, uncles, relatives, etc… loved it than about the book itself.

8) When you sign a client, do you run through your own edits before taking the MS out for sub?

Almost always.

9) If you had to give up agenting, what other career would you go into?

Oh goodness, I hope this never applies. Hmmm, I think I’d move west and start a cupcake food truck or maybe work with animals.

10) What is your view on submissions from overseas? Do you find that because the culture is different it may be harder to sell in the US?

Not necessarily, I think it all depends on the subject matter.

11) Describe your perfect literary love interest ;)

If you want an example of ones that already exist, I had a major thing for Sydney Carton in A TALE OF TWO CITIES (don’t ask me why) and for ROBIN HOOD, but I think was more for the Disney cartoon version with the fox (literal fox). If you want a wish-list… I’m not sure. For me, it’s more about what sort of love interest the protagonists wants/needs to make the story feel authentic and compelling. I think tension is a must. I always like things to be a little difficult. I’ve always felt that miscommunication and/ or misinterpretation is fantastically agonizing when it comes to relationships.

Quickfire questions

(Try to answer with the first thing that pops into your mind)

Superpowered heroines or soft damsels in distress?

Superpowered heroines.

Red or Green?


Dark and gritty or light and sweet? Literary that is.

Hehehe. Dark and Gritty

iPhone or Blackberry?


Ice cream or cupcakes?


Thanks once again for the interview!! If you would like to know how to query the lovely
Victoria, you can find her submission guidelines over at the Gelfman and Schneider webpage. She also blogs.


  1. Great interview! Thank you, Chanelle and Victoria, for providing it! I always find it extremely helpful when agents tell us what they're looking for and what they're not. :-)

  2. Great interview! It's so important for people to research before they query, and now they should have a better idea of if Victoria is a match for them.

  3. Thank you Victoria and Chanelle! I love hearing about hands-on literary agents. I definitely think authors and their agents should have very open communication.

  4. Fantastic interview!!!! To me, agents are the gods ... I'd much rather have a conversation with Victoria than any 'celebrity' on the planet! Although, Gerard Butler is nice to look at ... Lol ...

  5. Wonderful interview, ladies. There's lots of good information in here.

  6. Love the interview. It's always an insight. We're one step closer to understanding what makes those agents tick.

  7. Thank you, Victoria; very enlightening (p.s., check your inbox! *G*).

  8. That was awesome! Thanks so much Victoria and Chanelle! A great interview, to the point and gives us good insight as well.

  9. Brilliant interview! Thank you for the great insight!