an interview with amy tipton, lit agent (+ a giveaway!)

courtneyFeatured, interviews

Oh, this neglected blog! Oh, the state of my inbox and all the emails I have yet to get back to. But it’s either that or Book 4 never gets written guys, so what can I say besides thank you for your patience.

Despite my absence, I am totally interested in bringing you blog content when I can and I am particularly excited to bring you THIS bit of blog content because it is an interview with someone who is totally amazing and it also includes a giveaway of two books you should want on your bookshelf.

So four years ago, around June, I’d just finished a book called CRACKED UP TO BE. I queried an agent named Amy Tipton about it and she offered to represent me. I was like, YESS! Not long after, she sold CUTB and then not long after that, she sold three more of my books! Amy made this writing thing possible for me and it is no exaggeration to say she changed my life in doing so. I guess I thought there was no better way to show my immense gratitude than to bug her for an interview. She said yes!

(She puts up with a lot.)
(From me.)

Amy also marks the first agent interview I have ever done, which is exciting. Usually I interview authors but I know a lot of you guys are writers yourselves, so I hope you like this bit of insight into a person who works on the other side of the desk–a person who works extremely hard and who is awesome at it.

Before I begin, here’s Amy’s bio from Signature Literary Agency’s website:

Amy Tipton joined the agency in 2009. She graduated from Naropa University with a B.A. in Writing and Literature and received her MFA from New College of California in Writing. She comes to the agency after working as a literary assistant and office manager at several literary agencies including JCA Literary Agency, Diana Finch Literary Agency, Gina Maccoby Literary Agency, and Liza Dawson Associates. Amy has also worked as a book scout for Aram Fox, Inc. dealing with foreign rights. She became an agent with Peter Rubie and continued to agent with FinePrint Literary Management. In addition to her agenting experience, Amy also worked as a freelance editor to Lauren Weisberger, author of the Devil Wears Prada. Her work is published in the anthology, Controlled Burn, and pieces of her first and second novel can be found in a variety of literary journals.

If you’re a writer interested in querying Amy, please read the submission guidelines at Signature Lit before doing so. Research! Also, before we begin, here is a photograph of Amy, taken by photographer/author (and her husband!) Ed Glazar, which is so amazing it speaks for itself:

And without further ado, I present to you…


Describe your agenting style in six words or less:

Editorial, supportive, motivational, friendly, loyal, upbeat.

You totally are all of these things. Your submission wishlist is up on Signature Literary’s website for anyone interested in querying you, BUT–is there any specific kind of project as of April, 2011 that you are totally dying to see land in your inbox?

I don’t have any expectations or wants so I’m blown away by everything. (I would like to see an overweight kid, though–as a character in a YA or MG.) I mostly suggest ideas to my clients–ideas based on movies–and they do a pretty good job of taking ideas I like and making them their own.

What kind of books are you absolutely NOT interested in representing at this point in time?

Heavy sci fi/fantasy. Picture books. Self-help.

You have sold a lot of debut novels (including mine!). What do you think a debut author should be prepared for their first-time out to make it easier for them and for their agent?

They should be prepared to wait. Patience (in this business) is key.

I am still learning this. :) There is A LOT of advice out there for aspiring authors seeking representation–how to query, what to look out for, what to beware of etc. What advice do you have for authors who are already agented? Do you have any tips on how to keep the author/agent relationship running smoothly?

I can’t say it enough, whether you’re agented, a first-timer, etc. you need to be patient. Editors can be slow. Agents can be slow. And you need to trust your agent. The author/agent relationship is like a marriage–treat it accordingly.

Great advice. What about people who want to be agents? Do you have any advice for them?

Good luck!

If you could have an agenting theme song, what would it be?
I always thought I’d have some punk rock theme (because I listen to that the most) or some heavy metal or country but no, like my literary taste, my musical taste is quite eccentric and ABBA’s “Take A Chance On Me” runs through my head every time I sub a new project.

What’s your favourite candy?

This is tough because I love candy–cinnamon bears and lollipops and M&Ms, oh my! I’m a freak when it comes to sugar. But I guess, as boring as it may be, I love gum. Any kind. Love those bubblegum balls for a quarter. Love Hubba Bubba, Bubbalicious, Double Bubble, etc. I like Big Red and Juicy Fruit and Fruit Stripe (that zebra striped gum). Is gum a candy? If not, I like chocolate-covered pretzels. I also like caramel-covered apples.

It is the zombie apocalypse! You and a small group of survivors are making your way to the only zombie-free location in the world. You can take one (non-client!) book with you. Which book is it?

I totally had to think and think and then rethink my answer … but I think Sweet Valley High #32 The New Jessica. I just love Sweet Valley and those twins and growing up I worshipped Francine Pascal and I really love a good makeover and this one is awesome!

Best. Answer. Ever. Also, speaking of which, I know you like zombie movies. What’s your favourite?

It’s a little-known fact but I love horror movies in general. As far as zombie movies, I really like the remake of “Dawn of the Dead” with Sarah Polley–she’s super tough and I like that about her. (And I am a HUGE fan of the original “Dawn of the Dead” so I was skeptical of this remake.) This is difficult because there have been some good, and mainstream, zombie movies like “28 Days Later” and “Zombieland” and “Shaun of the Dead” (which I absolutely love).

Not that I was quietly judging that answer but if I HAD been, I would have approved of it. ;) One more zombie question because I didn’t ask you any on the phone when you offered to represent me. Are zombies that can run really fast a welcome development in the zombie genre or are the traditional, slow-moving, shambling zombies the best?

Both are scary. Running zombies just make them seem more menacing rather than being the typical slow clunkers. But both are welcome.

Agreed! Finally, what are the best words of wisdom you’ve received in life and in business?

In life, I value my mother’s opinion: Never trust a blonde boy. In business, I’ve received tons of advice and words of wisdom but for some reason, I hear Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) from “Entourage”–and that’s not worth repeating!

Everything Ari says is worth repeating! Maybe not in public though, you’re right. Except this is the best Ari Gold moment ever and I can’t resist posting it. Readers, take note, it is NSFW:

THANK YOU so much for taking time out of your day to answer these questions, Amy!

Now what interview is complete without a giveaway? Answer: no interview. No interview is complete without a giveaway. I am giving away two (2!) books! They are upcoming releases from two of Amy’s clients and YOU NEED THESE BOOKS IN YOUR LIFE. They are:

They come out July 5th & 19th of this year, respectively. I will be pre-ordering them and they won’t arrive on your doorstep until that day.

Bike NYC: The Cyclist’s Guide to New York City is “the definitive guide to bicycling culture in the city’s fastest growing mode of transportation from the authors of the popular Part guidebook, photo essay, history and human-interest story, this book offers instructions for a dozen rides led by seasoned tour guides through all of the five boroughs.” I am stoked for it because, ngl, it’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to seeing NYC (for now!). Author sites: Ed Glazar, Marci Blackman and Michael Green.

If you’re no stranger to my blog, then you are no stranger to YA author Amy Reed, who is one of the best new voices in YA out there right now (in my humble opinion). Amy Reed’s debut, Beautiful knocked my socks off (see my interview with her here) and I am so excited about her sophomore release, Clean and you should be too.

HOW TO ENTER: This giveaway is for US & Canada Residents Only (sorry!). To be entered, comment on this entry ON my website (not via feed). Simple as that! You have until April 20th, when a winner will be randomly selected. The winner will be have 24 hours to claim their prize before I do a redraw and they will be announced here in this blog entry, so check back here then to see if it’s you!

(Now back to neglecting everything for the sake of Book 4!)