In the run up to BookMachine New York, we’re running a set of interviews with publishing professionals connected to the City, with an interesting story to tell.
Marisa A. Corvisiero is a practicing attorney in New York City and a literary consultant, who started agenting a few years ago and recently founded the Corvisiero Literary Agency. The agency now has a staff of 8 strong, who together represent a wide spectrum of genres for very talented authors worldwide.
1) How does your background in law support your role as a literary agent?
My law training has been very useful in multiple facets of my agenting and consulting practices. Lawyers are trained to think critically, solve problems, negotiate, draft contracts, and to be active readers. All of these things are very helpful when choosing manuscripts, pitching them, selling them etc. There is a set of skills there that is needed to be good at both professions. I also have an international business and marketing undergraduate degree so that knowledge and set of skills helps with this business to help authors build platforms and after the sales. I’m lucky that it’s all come together rather nicely for me.
2) What made you set up the agency?
I started agenting in 2009, by helping friends sell their work and negotiating publishing contracts for authors. In 2010 I joined the L. Perkins Literary agency where my client list grew significantly and I learned a lot more about the industry. My stint at Perkins was supposed to last only 6 months, but that turned into a little over two great years. Starting my own agency was the plan all along. I wanted to be more for authors than just be their lawyer. I wanted to find good work and to be able to make something out of it.
3) How different has it been running your own agency, compared with your previous role at L. Perkins?
My role as an agent isn’t that different at all, but the management is a whole new role with many more responsibilities… and it takes a lot of time to do it right. I believe in mentoring and constant growth, not just in size but in knowledge and skills… and that growth is never done.
4) What will you be looking for in particular from new writers on your books?
One of my favorite sayings is that ‘the work speaks for itself’. So it’s not a particular type of story that I seek, it’s how well the story is told. I love great stories that have strong unique voices. I like work that reaches me in some ways, or that make me think. I particularly like styles that aren’t overly wordy, but that do play with words instead of using cliché expressions. I like to be challenged and entertained… those are also the reasons why I like to read so much. They take me out of my element… Give me something new to contemplate and savor.
5) Any personal predictions for the future of publishing? We’d love to know what you predict.
I think that current trends say it all. Many of the big houses will be merging or restructuring. They will all have e-book lines, and most of the reading will continue to be done on electronic devices. Unless the younger generations are exposed to paper books like we were, and given the opportunity to fall in love with the feeling of holding a book in their hands, paper books will become a thing of the past. Since Feb of 2011, e-books have been outselling their paper counterparts and the trend is increasing. If you look at the best selling items for this holiday season you’ll see that e-readers for all ages are selling like hot cakes. My sons are in first grade and I’ve noted that most of the kids have iPads or hand me down iPhones already that they use to read. Their homework often comes in way of book reading assignments on three different websites! My prediction… We’ll be saving lots of trees!