Blogger: Rachel Kent
I am looking forward to the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal Conference in April, and I was asked to participate in an interview as a personal introduction for the conferees. Kirk Kraft, the interviewer, told me that I was welcome to post the interview here, too. I have been to this conference before and really enjoyed it. I think there are still openings, if you want to attend.
Here is my interview. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about my answers.
Kirk: What is the most important attribute you look for in a prospective new client?
Rachel: I’m not sure I can pick just one! I guess being a great writer comes first, but I won’t represent a great writer who isn’t a kind, friendly person with perseverance and the ability to work well with others.
Kirk: Is there a particular story or genre you’ve been looking for recently & haven’t found?
Rachel: I have clients writing in all the categories I like to represent, but I would like to find more romantic suspense and also nonfiction books for those in their teens, twenties, and thirties.
The nonfiction I’m looking for would be books that help those in these age groups get through life at the stages they are in. For example: Surviving high school or college; dating; early years of marriage; raising children when the parents are like ships passing in the night to make ends meet; etc. The books do need to bring something fresh to these topics, though, and platform has to be strong.
I’m open to short romantic suspense (Love Inspired-length) and longer romantic suspense projects.
This doesn’t mean that I’m not looking at other types of projects too, though.
Kirk: Do you have any publishing heroes or role models? Who are they?
Rachel: The amazing agents at Books & Such are instructive and inspiring to me on a daily basis. Janet Kobobel Grant has really dedicated herself to helping each of us at Books & Such, and she is a hero in my book!
My clients also inspire me. They all work so hard and do what they do with joy and dedication. I can see Jesus in them.
Kirk: What advice can you give aspiring writers who believe they’re ready to submit work?
Rachel: Please have some critique partners read your work first! It makes a difference. And ask them to look at your query letter, too. The query letter can be the gateway to your publishing career, and you want it to be the best it can be so editors and agents request your project.
Kirk: What brings you the most joy in your life as an agent?
Rachel: I love helping all of my clients get contracted, but there’s a special joy that comes with placing a debut author. Placing that new writer with a publishing house makes me so excited and happy.
I also love reading a brand new idea from a client. There’s so much potential in new ideas.
Kirk: If you could go back in time, would you choose a different career? Why or why not?
Rachel: I don’t think so. I really love being a literary agent. I find joy in my job, and I don’t think I would if I did something else–or it would be harder to. I also feel like I’m able to reach people with the love of Jesus through what I do. And I have some flexibility with my job so I can spend a lot of time with my daughter.
Kirk: What are you currently reading?
Rachel: I am currently rereading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It’s amazing how different life is today. Laura had only a few toys growing up, and Ma only had one special glass figurine to put on her homemade shelf. And there wasn’t any technology! They were happy and thankful and unselfish. I think every adult should read these books again. It’s been eye-opening, and they are so good!
I have a well-worn set of Little House books. My mother read Farmer Boy to my grandsons, an intergenerational trip back in time. Our chatty boys were horrified that Almonzo ate in silence while the adults talked.
It seems to me that writers conferences are hard work for agents, Rachel, hopefully wrapped in fun. Glad you like your work!
Conferences are hard work, but it is fun to meet new authors as well. And I enjoy the worship at the Christian conferences, too.
I think conferences are hard work for everyone!
Fun to read! Hope you have fun at the conference, Rachel. 🙂
Great interview, Rachel! The conference sounds wonderful; I mean the word renewal is right in the name. 🙂
The Little House books are dear to my heart. I found a companion book (I think this is the title) A Little House Traveler, full of pictures and writings from later in her life. I cried throughout the book! She faced so many challenges but maintained such a positive attitude.
I just finished The First Four Years and I hadn’t remembered how sad that book was! I think when I was younger it seemed like Laura was emotionless when she was telling about the hard things, but now I see that she was still hurting very much when she wrote the book. Thinking about her baby that died wasn’t something she wanted to dwell on.
I never read that one, but now I want to! I think there was a need to be stoic back then too. Child mortality was a way of life–which horrifies me–and women like Laura might have been raised to keep on and carry on, you know? So sad.
Rachel, I read her daughter helped her focus in writing. She did not write without the comfort of support.
I went to her house in MS. Everything was closed down so I just stood there knowing this was the place she shared her heart. This was the place her message moved from her today to our tomorrow. I believe, an author always leaves a little bit of herself on every page written..Thank you,Laura Engels for your voice.
The idea of nonfiction for younger people is interesting to me, because when I was teaching at the college level I really saw a need – the kids were clueless, and repeating the same mistakes.
It’s not new; in the 50s Pat Boone (remember him?) wrote a book called “Twixt Twelve and Twenty”, which was filled with great advice for teenagers. It sold about a zillion copies, and I don’t think one teenager read it.
Pat Boone had a platform as an entertainer; but he was still an adult, and taking advice from an adult was as uncool then as it is now.
Contrast that with Judy Blume; teenage girls read her books avidly, and they learned a lot about growing up. As far as I can tell, Ms. Blume was like an older sister telling parables, and she certainly was not afraid to handle topics that were even more sensitive then than they are today. That they were fiction might indicate that this is the best way to go, to get the message across in something that an adolescent will actually pick up.
When I was in high school, Norman Vincent Peale was popular among my classmates; so was Dale Carnegie. I think the key there was that these were books by adults for adults, and the kids were applying the lessons to their own lives.
Point being, young people want to claim the estate of adulthood, and a platform or series of books designed to help them should recognize that fact. Speaking from the perspective of experience simply doesn’t work; it’s seem as lecturing. The lessons have to be as fresh and applicable in the writer’s life as in that of the young reader. A hard balance to strike, without making it either another book for adults or a “for kids by kids” bit of drivel.
Quite a challenge you’ve thrown down!
I do think younger people–teens and early twenties–have a much harder time taking advice from those who are more experienced, but at some point in your twenties or as you enter your thirties you learn you don’t know much of anything and you need as much help as you can get! 🙂 At least that was the case for me. I didn’t read much nonfiction until a couple of years ago. Now I read parenting help books, organizational books, time management books, devotionals, and more.
Thank you, Rachel. Have a wonderful time at the conference in April! I lived in Spokane, WA, for a time … loved the great Northwest!
I love the Little House books. They are timeless, and though so simple to read, somehow extend to all ages. I’m trying to remember the category they are under in the bookstore … under middle grade? Or young readers (7+)?
I believe they are considered books for young readers. I think they are books that should be read by mom or dad to children because there’s so much in there to talk about!
What a fun interview, Rachel. It’s fun getting to know you a wee bit better and to see your heart for your clients. I love the Little House books! I read them to my boys when they were younger. It was eye opening to them. 🙂
Have a wonderful time at the conference!
I read them with my dad when I was young. It was fun to revisit the characters. I admit I liked the TV show as well!
Rachel, thanks so much for sharing this interview and letting us get to know you a bit more. I never read the Little House books when I was growing up. I wanted to read what my father was reading, so I toted Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War (and other ridiculously long tomes) around my eighth grade classrooms for a few weeks, reading in my down time. However, I did discover them after I had children. I think I read every single one in a span of two weeks. I promptly wanted to plan a trip to all the Ingalls/Wilder sites, but I couldn’t convince my husband to drive to South Dakota to see the cottonwoods standing in front of the place where the homestead used to be. 🙂 Maybe when my daughters are older, we’ll have a girls road trip.
I want to do that road trip, too! 🙂
Thanks for sharing, Rachel! It’s probably been 20 years since I’ve read the Little House books, and now I want to reread them. 🙂
It is worth it! And reading the whole series doesn’t take too long.
Love this interview! I’m very happy and proud to be your client 🙂
I’m happy to have you as a client as well!
And Kirk asked some great questions. 🙂
Thank you, Rachel, for sharing this interview. You are such a positive and joyful person, and that shines through in the interview.
As a yet-to-be-published writer, I find it encouraging that finding and helping debut authors is one of the great joys of your career. Thank you for being willing to take a risk on a new author.
I will always continue to take debut authors!
Great interview, Rachel! I’m proud to be your client too 🙂
I have no idea how many times I read the Little House series growing up. My sister and I would act out the stories, arguing over who got to play Mary and who got to play Laura. I re-read them as an adult, too, and was glad I did. A totally different perspective. Those pioneers were brave and loving and steadfast.
Thank you! I’m so glad you are my client, as well!
I don’t think my sisters liked the Little House books. That’s my recollection. I’ll have to ask.
Kristen Joy Wilks
Wonderful Interview Rachel. I think that knowing a bit more about the person to whom you will be pitching helps to ease some of the anxiety. Thanks for posting this.
My Mom read the Little House books out loud onto a tape so that she could send it to her grandmother (who couldn’t read for herself anymore). She was worried that my brother and I would be too loud as she was recording, but we begged and she allowed us to listen as she read into the recorder. We were probably 2 and 4 and when my Great Grandma got the tape, her very favorite parts were where my brother and I would interrupt the story with questions. “What is a Panther?” I can still remember trying to be quiet and being intrigued by the story. Good times.
And speaking of good times…I’ll see you at the Northwest Christian Writer’s Renewal! I absolutely cannot wait. My sister and I wait for this weekend all year.
See you there!!! 🙂 And please don’t be anxious. It is going to be a great conference.
My 1971 Harper and Row Little House books are here in my office alongside many other books–fiction and nonfiction–about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family. I don’t they had any time to be miserable with the sun up to sun down effort required to survive on the prairie.
Thanks for sharing these insights into your career and what you’re looking for. I definitely believe late teens and twenty-somethings have a tough time accept advice from those older than them. My son is 26 and is beginning to realize his dad and I aren’t as “dumb” as he thought we were all these years. 🙂 Actually, I think that would make a great title for a book aimed at this age group: Listen up! Your Parents Aren’t as Dumb as You Think They Are.
Edited out interview question.
Kirk: And finally Rachel, my last question, what kind of dog do you have?
🙂 My dog is a lhasa apso mix.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
What a great interview!
*My* Katie is reading those books right now, and she’s 23. They are stories that are simply timeless.
Have a great time in Washington.
I couldn’t agree more about the Little House books! I re-read them every few years and I’m now reading them to my daughters. I have so much more respect and admiration for Ma, now that I’m a mother. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this fun interview.
My favorite story was Ma slapping the bear. 🙂 I could imagine that from a mother’s perspective. Trying to protect your child without freaking her out while being scared to death yourself.
Great interview, Rachel! 🙂 I haven’t read the Little House books since third grade. It definitely would be interesting to read them again as an adult. (And yes, I loved the show too!!)
I reread the Little House Books to my daughter a few years ago. It was so much fun to read them again. I think the Long Winter was my favorite.
I love that one and These Happy Golden Years. 🙂
Hey Rachel! Not really related, but I saw on the sidebar GoodReads widget that you’re not planning on reading Allegiant based on your opinion of Insurgent. I strongly encourage you to reconsider, or at least try out the Kindle sample before making your mind up. The third book completely changes your view of the entire series. I’ve never seen such huge — well, they’d be spoilers — at the end of a series before that change up the whole series like that. It’s creative genius.