California resident Rachel Kent began her career at Books & Such Literary Agency in Santa Rosa, California, as a summer intern while attending the University of California Davis.
After graduating with a BA in English (with minors in both religious studies and psychology) she continued working part-time as an assistant at the agency. In 2007, she became a full-time literary agent.
Rachel represents fiction and nonfiction for adults and has a special interest in books for teens and readers in their twenties and thirties.
I don’t think it would be too strong to say writers hunger for an agent, and are often happy to sign with the first agent who offers. What problems or dangers do you see arising from this attitude?
Before you do your querying, you should do research so that you are only querying agents with whom you believe you could work well and who are reputable in the industry. That way if one of them offers representation you already know that that person is someone you want to work with.
When you receive an offer of representation, it's a common courtesy to give the other agents who are looking at your book a chance to respond to you. I suggest you write to each of them and ask if they could have an answer to you within 10 business days. The representation-offering agent will understand because he or she would want the same courtesy if a different agent had finished your project first.
I think that authors shouldn't have a problem if they take this approach to getting an agent.
Rachel, you’ve stated that you want to develop strong relationships with your writers. Many new authors hope that means you will take a hands-on approach that helps them become better writers. What do you mean when you say strong-relationship building?
When I say that I like to develop strong relationships with my clients I mean that I enjoy getting to know my clients as friends as well as work partners. I pray for my clients and many of them include me in their prayers as well.
We're friends on Facebook and get together for dinner at conferences or whenever we can. Our emails aren't all work related, and we open up to each other about our personal lives.
I do read my clients' work and offer writing advice quite frequently because I enjoy reading the books they produce. It's not really in an agent's job description but these are authors whose books I believe should be published so it's a given that I'd want to read the books they produce. I don't usually do line edits on manuscripts, but I'll give advice on plot, character development and other "big picture" areas. I'm not sure how many agents do this, but I hope I never get too busy to help with the creative process. It's something I enjoy and I believe my clients appreciate.
You are interested in representing fantasy but not spiritual warfare. Can you explain the difference and give an example of each?
Spiritual warfare to me is anything that involves angels, demons, and the devil as characters or even in the background battling for souls. I believe all three exist, but I'm easily creeped out by focusing on such things so I avoid them in what I read. Example: Frank Peretti's This Present Darkness.
Fantasy books are books set in different worlds or books that treat the fairytale realm as real. You're likely to find a dragon or fairies in a fantasy book. Example: Anne Elisabeth Stengl's Heartless.
Interview conducted by Assistant Director Jayne Self.