2016 Snapshot: Alex Adsett

Interview by Tehani Wessely.

Alex Adsett headshotAlex Adsett is a literary agent specialising in genre fiction, as well as a freelance publishing consultant offering commercial contract advice to authors and publishers.  As a literary agent, she is focused on finding exceptional manuscripts for adults, young adults and children, including romance, science fiction, fantasy, crime and mystery, picture books and narrative non-fiction. She is often to be found on twitter at @alexadsett or via her website www.alexadsett.com.au.

I’ve been seeing a lot of work by authors you represent being photographed in bookstores lately! Can you tell us about some of the recent publications you represent?

Hooray Yes! After trying for almost two years to get my first sale as an agent, I’m over the moon that things are going so well now (three years later), Maria Lewis’ Who’s Afraid? is a fabulous urban fantasy starring Tommi Grayson coming to terms with her werewolf heritage. Gary Kemble’s Skin Deep is a dark investigative thriller with supernatural elements, and we’re so excited that Alan Baxter’s Alex Caine trilogy is now all out in print with wonderful new covers. There’s lots more books out there and on the way, especially Jodi McAlister’s just incredible YA supernatural, Valentine, due out in February 2017.
It feels like finding an agent is always a struggle for writers, particularly in Australia and particularly in the field of science fiction and fantasy. Why do you think it is such a challenge, and why should authors persevere in their hunt?

In Australia it’s particularly challenging because we really only have 20-25 literary agents, and only a handful of those represent SFF at all. The US has more than a thousand agents, and the UK has almost as many. If the Aus agents aren’t interested, it is worth trying for a good overseas agent (please do your research to find the good ones!) but the tyranny of distance doesn’t help either. The good news is that SFF is a small industry, even on a global scale. With perseverance, an author might be able to get themselves an international publisher without using an agent at all. I’m a big advocate of authors not needing an agent, but it being a choice. Some authors may want that agent in their corner helping them out in a tough spot, but some others might be fine on their own, particularly if they have a good working relationship with their publisher.

What’s the most rewarding part of your role as an agent?

Finding an amazing manuscript that just sings off the page! Usually at 2am after a breathless, non-stop read, and just knowing that you’re the right agent to get this book onto shelves around the world. That moment of discovery feeling is closely followed by being able to professionally talk about books all day and everyday, and also working with some amazing authors, and having fantastic colleagues. I love the publishing industry, and I still have to pinch myself that I get to work in it.
What Australian work have you loved recently?

Apart from my own books, right? Ooo, Welcome to Orphancorp by Marlee Jane Ward is amazing! It’s a short novella, but packs an incredible punch – it’s brutal, refreshing and challenging. I adored it. I’m decades late, but I’ve recently read Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series, and couldn’t put  them down.  Finally, part of me is still reeling from the epic conclusion to Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn series last year, The Red Queen. I’ve been obsessively reading the Obernewtyn series since I was 12, so it was devastating to read the final one, but it was so worth it.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

So many! One of my favourite authors of all time is Diana Wynne Jones, so I think I would have to nominate her, except for the idea that on a long plane trip, sitting next to an idol, I would probably end up just making a fool of myself. But I would love to have talked with her properly about the impact her books made on my life.

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