Anna Sproul-Latimer has been with Ross Yoon Agency for her entire 12-year career. She aims to represent writers who “confront some of life’s scariest, most profound, most meaningful experiences and tell the truth about them with pathos and humor”—whether as memoirists, historians, scientists or comedians.
“There is no better high in the world than the one I get when I call an author and tell them they have a book deal,” she says. “Given my client list, I’m often telling that to first-time authors and people from marginalized or progressive communities. Telling them their stories matter—and matter to the tune of hugely competitive advances—makes my heart burst with pride.”
Find her at rossyoon.com and on Twitter @annasproul.
“I’m looking for the opposite of what’s in front of us right now. I want to read about love, connection, endurance, gentleness, happy surprises, redemption, cuckoo hobbies, unforgettably good people from history—also death and outer space, just because I’m obsessed with them.”
“Don’t think a book is going to give you a platform. You’re going to have to bring your platform to a book.”
“Your choice of agent is likely to be more important in the long term than that of your editor or publisher, so shop competitively.”
“Practice getting rejected early and often. Submit freelance pitches with abandon. Hell, maybe even do what one of my clients did and apply for America’s Next Top Model. Get over yourself as completely as you can, as all successful writing careers require a lot of resilience.”
“Google the agent you’re pitching. Personalize your queries. Sound like a person in them.”
“Agents post rules for querying work, so please pay attention to them. The only [acceptable] shortcut is this: If you have a writer friend or acquaintance whose agent might be a good fit for you, by all means ask for a personal introduction.”
“Know what’s selling and how your book fits in the market.”
Query Pet Peeves
“People who don’t research what an agent or agency represents before pitching.”
“People who CC every agent and her mother on one big blanket query.”
“Lechery. If I ever meet you in person, ask me to tell you the story about the creeper query in the big bag of Jolly Ranchers.”
Colin Dickey, author of Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places (Viking, 2016)
Christine Negroni, author of The Crash Detectives: Investigating the World’s Most Mysterious Air Disasters (Penguin Books, 2016)
Alexandra Petri, author of A Field Guide to Awkward Silences (NAL/Berkley, 2015) and “every Washington Post column that has and will continue to preserve my sanity about politics”
Life in a Nutshell
“DC native, graduate of Columbia (BA) and Oxford (master’s), married to another agent [Matt Latimer, founding partner of Javelin], two little kids.”
“ I like to walk through cemeteries and Google interesting recent graves to find out the backstory. It gives me a real sense of accomplishment.”
“I love a good bizarre smell. I alternate between perfumes that smell like wood smoke, tomatoes and Coppertone sunblock.”
“I think Myers-Briggs types are like the modern equivalent of phrenology, but for what it’s worth, I’m an ESFP—or, in the words of the incomparable Lindy West, a ‘human vuvuzuela.’”
Drink: “Wine. All wine. Not picky.”
Living author: “Stephen Grosz, Mary Roach and, of course, if you’re my client, you. Only you.”
Dead author: Paul Kalanithi, Jessica Mitford, Jim Henson, Mervyn Peake
Poem: “Years Later” by Lavinia Greenlaw
Quote: “‘A memory is never finished as long as you are alive.’ That’s from the movie Before Sunset. (Hello and welcome to my high school yearbook page.)”
Place: Oxford, England, and Sils-Maria, Switzerland
Most Proud Of
“My kids, and giving some amazingly talented writers the confidence to go out and change the world.”
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