Lit Agent Lauren MacLeod Has “Sweet Spot” for Funny Books

By Jeff Rivera Comment

Lauren MacLeod of the Strothman Agency is poised to help her clients through the ebook revolution. In this interview, she tells us why her agency only takes books that they are passionate about, and why the ebook is not the death of publishing.

What is your title and who do you work for?
I’m a literary agent with The Strothman Agency. I’m terrific at what I do because I stay very dialed into all the digital changes authors are facing both in regards to e-book and publicity and marketing. This puts me in a better position to negotiate on my clients behalf as well as give advice. Furthermore-though I suspect this is true of many agents and perhaps even most people in the publishing industry-I truly love my work and there is nothing I’d rather be doing. If I won the lottery, I’m pretty sure you would still find me sitting at my desk Monday morning; though it would probably be a much nicer desk.

Publishing is changing and some people are worried. What does The Strothman Agency do to keep up?
The Strothman Agency has always only taken on projects that we love and are passionate about and I think that is serving us well as editors make more conservative acquisition choices. That said, I think we are now looking for projects to be slightly more polished before we sign them up.

How do your writers contribute?
As for authors, I think that as magazines struggle and book review sections shrink the most successful authors will take on some of the promotion responsibilities. There are lots of inexpensive things (blogs, facebook fan pages, writing op-eds etc) that, when done well, can help sell their books.

Do you think ebooks and digital publishing is a good thing or a bad thing? And which would you rather read on – an ebook reader or a paper copy?
As an agent, it is both exciting and frustrating to have the game change so much so often, but I am confident we aren’t facing the death of the book, no matter how you define book. I think e-books are fantastic for certain genres and insatiable readers and they provide all sorts of new avenues for experimentation that could serve to hook in a completely new audience. I read manuscripts on a reader, but for pleasure I tend to want the physical book and I think there is room in the marketplace for both.

How do you want new writers to get in touch with you? What should they not do?
Our submission guidelines are on our website at All though the Strothman Agency accepts snail mail, I prefer to get e-queries.
My biggest query pet peeve is when people try to query via a phone call, but a close second would be authors who pitch more than one project at a time. I find being presented with ten different ideas all at once very overwhelming.

What kinds of books are agencies looking for? What would you in particular like to work with?
I think what all editors and agents are really looking for-and I suspect this is as true today as it will be five years from now-are fresh, original voices.
In addition to a great voice, I’m always looking for funny books in any of the YA or MG sub-genres. Funny is very hard to pull off, but it is a real sweet spot for me. I’d also love to see more YA or MG horror in my slush pile.

Thanks for the interview! Can you indulge us with a fact about yourself that might surprise people?
When I was a kid I was a huge sunken ship fanatic. I was particularly taken with all things Titanic and Robert D. Ballard (and before the movie came out, thank you very much!). I had all sort of books and posters and was one of the very few if not only tween members of the Titanic Historical Society.