Interview with Literary Agent Pamela Harty
Abby Gaines talks to literary agent Pamela Harty, of The Knight Agency (February 2008)
When was the Knight Agency established?
The Knight Agency was started by my younger sister Deidre Knight in 1996 and I joined the team in 2000.
How many agents does your agency have, and who are they?
We currently have four. Deidre Knight, Elaine Spencer and I all are located in the home Madison office. Nephele Tempest heads up our West Coast operations in Los Angeles.
Is romance a big part of the agency’s client profile?
Yes, traditionally our romance authors have been a large foundation of our client list, but we also have extremely successful authors writing women’s fiction, inspirational fiction, young adult fiction, and nonfiction as well.
Who are some of the agency’s major clients, and who are some of the clients represented by you personally?
The Knight Agency represents more than a hundred clients, and a large roster can be found listed on our website knightagency.net. To give a spectrum from my personal list, I have Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Chris Green, Michele Andrea Bowen, Liz Allison, Leslie Kelley, Steven James and Cherie Calbom, just to name a few.
Are you (personally) taking on new clients at the moment? If so, what kind of books are you looking for?
I am definitely looking for new authors. I love most types of romance and would especially love to add wonderful new romantic suspense author or another strong voice in women’s fiction. I’m also always looking for fresh and innovative authors in the areas of health, relationships and pop culture.
What are your main considerations when you take on a published author as a client?
Mainly, I am looking for clients who want to partner with the Knight Agency for the long haul. It’s essential that our authors are interested in being a team player, and also that they have realistic expectations and are motivated.
How about an unpublished author?
We mostly look at the same things as we do with the published authors, but in this case it’s important to us that they are willing to listen and trust the TKA team as we have been around the block before and are a strong foundation for starting a career.
How do you (personally) like to work with your clients?
I like email because I can answer after hours. But I do think it’s very important to phone conference as well. The key to a great agent-author relationship is communication and it needs to go both ways. I need to know what my clients need from me and they need to know what we need too.
Can you tell us some of the publishers you’ve sold to in the last year?
2007 was a wonderful year. I sold to Simon and Schuster, NAL, Kensington, TOR, Harlequin, Baker Revell, Berkley, Tyndale, Avon, Harper Collins, Center Street
How would you say the Knight Agency is different from other agencies?
I think one of the trademarks of our agency is our team approach. Each agent at TKA has unique tastes and insights that we bring to the table. We are constantly joining together to work on projects to find the best result for our clients. We work hard to stay informed of the current market, publishing trends, and marketing responsibilities to really help our clients stay on the cutting edge of the business. We are also lots of fun to work with and take our job very personally!
How has the Knight Agency changed over the last 2-3 years (for the benefit of authors who may have researched the agency previously, but their knowledge may now be out of date)?
Over the past 2-3 years we have really taken aggressive steps to move out of the “boutique” category. We have added multiple staff members and interns who have assisted in developing our marketing, internet, sub-rights, legal, and editorial capabilities. We now offer a much more diverse palate of opportunities and experience than we did 3 years ago that can really help take our authors to the next level in all aspects of their career.
Do you think category romance authors need an agent? How should they decide if they need an agent or not?
This is a great question and one we have discussed at length. The answer is yes, we think so. For example, if Harlequin makes an across-the-board language change in its contract that could be detrimental to the author, then he or she may very well need a strong advocate and we are here for them. Also, if a category author wants to move into single title, they are definitely going to need an agent to help them get their proposal in front of the best editor and help them adjust to the many differences in writing for the single title vs category lines.
Is there a “favorite lament” you hear from editors about something they’d like to see but don’t get enough of?
We hear the words High Concept all the time, but basically they are looking for the same things we are…fresh stories that are finely crafted and emotionally rich. Basically great writing is what we are all looking for!
Apart from your own clients, who are some of your favorite authors / books?
I have always been an avid reader and one of the first adult books that I fell in love with as a pre-teen was Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. That book hooked me for life!
In college I loved Herman Wouks’ Winds of War and War and Remembrance. After college, I fell in love with The Drifters by James Michener and then went through a Pat Conroy faze. I also love Rosamund Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers. Romance authors that I love include Deidre Knight, Sylvia Day, Kresley Cole, Suzanne Brockman and Lisa Kleypas, just to name a very few.
To query The Knight Agency, check out the agency’s submission guidelines on http://www.knightagency.net/manuscript_submissions/