Today's Featured Writefest Speaker is Danielle Bukowski, an agent and foreign rights manager at Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. in New York. As a dynamic independent agency, Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. represents a range clients from Pulitzer Prize winners to literary and commercial novelists. Danielle is looking for upmarket women's fiction, smart commercial fiction, literary fiction and select nonfiction.
What book/story/poem have you read recently that you’re really excited about?
I recently really loved Trust Exercise by Susan Choi and Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima translated by Geraldine Harcourt.
How did you first enter the publishing industry?
Like a lot of people, I’ve learned: I failed at being a journalist. I’m very happy to be where I am now.
What tips would you give to writers on query letters?
It’s time-consuming in the beginning, but it will save you time and stress in the long run to really do your research on agents before you query. You can only query one agent at an agency at a time, and you don’t want to waste time waiting on a response only to learn that that agent doesn’t represent what you wrote or isn’t taking on new clients. It’s easy to find our wish lists and client lists online, and that will also help as you craft your query letter, which should be individualized to each agent to stand out. There’s a formula for query letters and if you’re querying fiction or nonfiction, it’s best to follow the formula – writing a query letter in your protagonist’s voice, or making it difficult for the agent to read, just makes it more difficult for the agent to understand the great book you’re trying to pitch.
What's it like handling foreign rights for authors?
I love handling foreign rights, for my authors and for all of the authors at SLL. I find it fascinating to learn about what is and is not selling abroad, and of course it’s a joy to bring an author a foreign sale. I also think my foreign rights background is an advantage to me as an agent and therefore beneficial to my authors: I’m very skilled at pitching books and I know the international and domestic marketplace very well.