Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ask the Industry Expert: Literary Agent, Eric Ruben

It's time for another of Helena Fairfax's agent interviews, and this month we're heading across the pond to interview New York literary agent Eric Ruben.
Thanks for dropping in, Eric!
Please tell us a little about the Eric Ruben Agency, how long it’s been established, and how you came to set it up.
It started by accident. I went to high school with and became best friends with Suzanne Brockmann.
She, her husband, and I, worked on creating her writing career. When I was a young lawyer I came up with the idea for writing about Navy SEALs and she wrote her way to the New York Times bestseller list numerous times. I travelled with her across the country numerous times in a van, doing signings and hand selling books from Boston to Sacramento, in almost every one of the now defunct Borders and Walden Books stores in the USA. I went to many conventions and met a lot of editors and writers. Along the way several wanted me to become their agent. I took my legal background and mixed it with my “in the trenches” publishing experience. I did my first deal in 2010 and I’ve done numerous deals with all the major publishers since then.

What genres do you represent?
I’m currently interested in all fiction including but not limited to Romance, YA, Erotica, LGBT, Mystery and more. If in doubt, send it.

What is it you are looking for when a manuscript lands on your desk? Are there any specific plots or themes you’d like to see?
First I’m looking for someone who can tell a story without making me notice the writing. Too often people write at me rather than just tell me a good story. I want characters I care about, with whom I want to take the ride.

Do you ever find authors outside the slush pile? If so, how?
Often. The best sources are conferences I attend. Also referrals from clients, editors, and other friends.

What advice would you give someone submitting to you?
Make sure your manuscript is ready to be reviewed by a professional, and that it’s in the best possible shape. I’m not going to give feedback to make your book better unless I take you on as a client and I want people whose work is already as close as possible to being sent to an editor.

You have a very active Twitter presence. How important is Twitter to you as an agent? Do you advise aspiring authors to use this platform, and if so, how can they use it to best advantage?
I think it helps me communicate to authors. I can give them my thoughts on the business. Does it help me? I have no idea.
As for authors and platform, I represented a NY Times bestselling author who had only a few hundred twitter followers. Bottom line, the most important thing an author can do is write a great book. Platform matters to editors more in nonfiction projects. I agree. If you have such a project, it matters a great deal if you are new to the subject or a seasoned veteran.

What’s your favourite romance novel of all time?
Sense and Sensibility.

Apart from your own authors, which book have you enjoyed the most in the past twelve months, and why?
I’m enjoying a book about the behind the scenes world of The Daily Show.  

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to travel, cook, and entertain with my wife.

If you could describe your working-day in just three words, what would they be?
Let’s do it!
* * *
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us today, Eric. I love your description of the working day!
If you've enjoyed Eric's interview, or have any questions or comments, please let us know. We'd love to hear from you!

Helena Fairfax's engaging contemporary romances have been shortlisted for The Exeter Novel Prize,the Global Ebook Awards and the I Heart Indie Awards. Her latest release is a romantic suspense called A Year of Light and Shadows, available on Amazon in ebook and print, and from e-book retailers.

Thank you, Helena and Laura for a most interesting interview.

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Anita Chapman said...

Another great interview, thanks Helena!

Helena Fairfax said...

Thanks, Anita! Eric was great to chat to :)

@juliawildauthor said...

Entertaining interview, thank you, Helena x

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