Interview with Literary Agent Elise Capron

Faculty Interviews, News

Midwest Writers committee member Gail Werner interviewed Elise Capron with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. Elise will be taking pitches alongside 5 other agents at this summer’s conference. 

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MWW: What made you want to become an agent? What kinds of stories do you rep?

EC: What initially appealed to me about agenting, and what continue to be some of my favorite aspects of this job, are that it’s all about being creative and about compelling problem-solving. Working on books I love, by authors I greatly respect, devising a strategy to find the best publisher, staying involved with the publication process and all the challenges and successes that come along the way keep me energized and excited. Every book’s life is different, and so, in a way, I take part in creating the rules for that journey. It’s very rewarding!

I have repped many types of books over the almost-12-years I’ve been at SDLA, though these days I am most interested in serious adult literary fiction and narrative non-fiction, particularly cultural history.

MWW: Tell us about something you’ve sold that was recently released.
EC: I’m excited about a book of mine that came out in April called Rain: A Natural and Cultural History, by Cynthia Barnett. This is my second book with Cynthia, who is an amazing journalist and story-teller, and it will change your ideas about  our relationship with the world’s water. It also represents the mix of serious non-fiction and great storytelling that I find especially compelling right now.

MWW: What do you enjoy best about meeting writers at conferences versus discovering their work in your inbox?

EC: I LOVE going to conferences and meeting writers in person! Email can get exhausting, and staring at a computer screen will never be the same as having the chance to meet face-to-face. It changes the dynamic and allows me to learn a lot more about each writer, their passions, why their project is important to them, and more.

MWW: Any words of advice for the writers pitching you at MWW this year?

EC: Every writer at the conference will have different priorities. Some specifically want to get an agent, others want to practice pitching and talk with other writers and industry professionals, others might be at an early stage and just want to get a taste of it all. My advice would be that no matter what stage you’re at, don’t lose sight of the conference as a learning process full of opportunities. For example, if getting an agent to request your material is your only priority in the pitch session, remember to take a step back and use the pitch for much more than that: Whether or not the agent is interested, it is a chance to get feedback on how you’re pitching, or to talk about your idea, your struggles, and more. Build relationships and connections, since that is what publishing is built on.


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