Saturday, April 5, 2014

PPWC 2014 Q&A Michelle Johnson

Michelle Johnson, Agent, Inlings Literary Agency


1. What was the defining moment that made your realize you wanted to be an agent?

In Virginia I had a writers' center and bookstore. We had a lot of book launches and author events for the local authors, and at the same time I was freelance editing for a couple of small presses. Every author I worked with told me that I should be an agent because of the way I worked with them - for them. I love helping people achieve their dreams. I applied for and accepted an intern position at an agency, and I told one of my mentors. She said "Ohhhhh, Dream Maker!" I got chills, and knew right then it was what I wanted.

2. What is the one thing you cannot work without? What is your creative vice?

Coffee. Always coffee.

3. If you could 'revive' any literary figure from the past for a one hour conversation, who would you choose?

C.S. Lewis. Or maybe Poe. I only get one? Emily Dickinson - final answer.

4. What is one of your more notable or unusual conference or convention experiences?

I think my favorite conference experience has to be the time I offered representation to an author during her pitch. She had queried me before the conference and I had requested the manuscript. When I realized I would see her there I read the manuscript on the flight. And was I ever glad I did! An amazing book by an incredibly talented author.

She pitched a different book at our pitch session. I asked to see the manuscript. And then I offered her representation for the first book. It was an amazing moment.

5. If we asked your friends and family to compare you to a cartoon character, which would they choose, and why?

I had to ask a friend, since I had no clue as to what this answer might be. She said: "Can I say Batman? Because you pull knowledge out of your hat like random weaponry or gadgets, and I bet when you hit things sound effects appear above your head in lightning shaped bubbles."

(I neither confirm nor deny the lightning shaped bubbles).

6. What is one thing would you like aspiring authors to know about the road to success?

I think I would most like them to know that when you get feedback from anyone - an agent, an editor, another writer - taking it personally is the worst thing you can do to yourself. If someone has offered you another way to view your story, listen to what they say, don't close down because you thought your writing was perfect. If you want to make it, use every resource you can. Sometimes there are gems inside those rejection letters. Read them. Learn from them.


About the Agent: Michelle L. Johnson is a literary agent, the founder of Inklings Literary Agency and has a business administration background in addition to a lifetime of working with books (sales, editing, and writing) and authors (marketing, promoting, event planning). She is also a script/story consultant for an independent film under production in Halifax, NS. Before founding Inklings Literary Agency, she was an agent with Corvisiero Literary Agency. She has spent many years in the editing field for private clients and multiple independent publishing houses. She owned and operated a Writers’Center and Bookstore in Virginia Beach, organizing numerous special events for authors and artists alike. In adult, NA and YA fiction Michelle looks for Contemporary, Suspense, Thriller, Mystery, Horror, Fantasy, and also loves Paranormal and Supernatural elements within those genres. She is also interested in romance of every heat level. She is especially fond of plot twists that surprise her and deep, well-rounded characters that make her laugh and cry. For Non Fiction, she is interested in Memoir and True Crime.