Marietta Zacker is a literary agent for the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. You can view her Agent Spotlight profile here, which features further information about Ms. Zacker. Now, without further adieu - the interview!
The masses want to know, who is Agent Marietta Zacker?
The intertwined worlds of writing and publishing have been a part of me as far back as I can remember as both my paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother wrote incessantly. Abuelo wrote because it was impossible for him not to, it was an innate characteristic. When his work was not being published, he took it upon himself to get his writing in front of readers one way or another. Abuela still writes – at the young age of 90 – because, she too, can’t imagine what life would be like without sharing her knowledge and her stories. As an adult, I found myself bringing literature and storytelling into my classrooms with every chance I got, regardless of the grade level or subject matter I was currently teaching. Introducing the world to the creative forces behind the words and art of some of my favorite children’s books became a passion. The publishing world was a natural next step. Now bringing together all the pieces of the puzzle as an agent feels like the perfect home for me.
How long have you had the (assumed) pleasure of being an agent, and how did you get your start?
Officially, I have been working as an agent for 8 months. My start…Craig Virden found me, then Nancy Gallt opened her doors wide for me. Before I met Craig and Nancy, I worked in publishing and with children’s books, authors and illustrators for over 15 years.
We know you love and specialize in children’s literature. That makes you welcome company ‘round this blog. What kick started your passion for kid lit?
The children I taught (and who taught me more in return), the writers and illustrators who surrounded me (and inspired me) and the professors who took me back in time to understand the how it all began kick started my passion. Many others have driven that passion to unimaginable places.
What range of projects do you represent? If we promise not to target what you’re looking for (everyone promise!), will you enlighten us on any particular interests you have? Keep it general, if you like.
I represent authors and illustrators and their writing and artwork are as varied as they come. I admit that I don’t know what I’ll like until I see it or read it – and sometimes, I surprise myself by some of the things that captivate me, so that is definitely a tough question for me. Having said that, as for particular interests, I hope to help usher in a set of voices and depictions that will allow children and young adults of all backgrounds, ethnicities and countries to see themselves within the pages of our books. It is imperative that the voices and illustrations represent the population of children and young adults who crave to find themselves in the books they read - authentic voices and illustrations that move us beyond the stereotypes and are as real as the world we live in.
What are you tired of seeing in the slush? Please, take advantage of this question. I’m sure you’re vamped- and zombied-out as much as the next literary agent (no offence paranormal writers!).
I admit that I am more tired of some of the things I see in queries and cover letters, than I am about any particular subject matter within manuscripts. It is difficult for me to ask to see a manuscript or get excited about what I am about to read when the query or cover letter has no soul or personality. I understand that everyone is trying to be respectful and professional and I certainly appreciate that, but if I had to choose, I would prefer to know who you are rather than the word count or to what book your manuscript can most be compared.
Would you describe yourself as an “editorial agent”? To what extent?
Yes. I love the process of writing as much as I love connecting the dots. I love talking through issues that are not quite ironed out in manuscripts, zeroing in on places where things need to be tweaked and helping writers put their best foot forward. However, it is also true that I neither want to be a member of the writer’s critique group nor take the place of an editor who will take the book in the direction that works best for them and their publishing house. These are fine lines to walk, to be sure and sometimes difficult to discern.
Preferences and pet peeves, we all have them. What are yours when it comes to submissions?
I’ll stick with the mundane here… unpaged manuscripts and single-spaced manuscripts. Then I’ll direct you to my answer above about what I’m tired of seeing in the slush.
How much contact do you have with your clients, and what is your preferred method of correspondence?
We are in touch often. E-mail is the most efficient. Phone conversations are a definite treat for me so I frequently pick up the phone and simply call. Face-to-face interactions (if at all possible) are the most fun.
I’m all about promoting agent research. What are the top two or three things, in your opinion, aspiring authors should research when considering an agent?
Try to find out who the person behind the agent is and whether or not your styles match. Remember that it is a relationship built on trust. An agent doesn’t necessarily need to become a friend, but given what you are entrusting an agent with, make sure you feel comfortable handing off your writing or your artwork.
Are you presently accepting unsolicited submissions? What are your submission requirements, and how can prospective clients get a hold of you?
Yes, I am accepting unsolicited manuscripts. Snail mail seems to best work for me.
(See the Nancy Gallt Literary website for submission information).
Now, a couple fun questions, if you’ll humor me.
Team Edward or Team Jacob? I’m just kidding. What have you read recently and loved?
Honestly, some amazing manuscripts (and I mean that sincerely). But I don’t think that’s your question. I recently reread THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS and fell in love with it again. As for something more current, I am going to keep that information to myself!
We’re out chatting it up and I buy you a drink. What do you choose?
A glass of lemonade or a dark beer, depending on my mood. Then again, it might be hard to say no to a really good glass of wine. And I’ll be happy to pay for my own.
Aspiring authors are always hungry for more. Any closing comments or advice you’d like to add?
Please sit at a library or bookstore, go to the genre which you are currently writing for, start with A and just read. When you are tired, leave, come back the next day or week and pick up where you left off. Keep doing that until you get to Z.
A huge thank you for your time Ms. Zacker. It's been so nice getting to know you better.