Q&A With Amy Tipton
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Q&A With Amy Tipton
My next Q&A is with Amy Tipton who is a New York Times Bestselling agent turned editor. Her blog is https://amy-tipton.com/ .
Q: Amy, as I understand you used to be a literary agent for many New York Times Bestselling authors, and then you became an editor, and you have your own blog. Was the transition from an agent to then becoming an editor an easy one?
A:Well, I wouldn’t say *many* NYT Bestsellers—just one made the list and that was one of the last books I did (Sadie by Courtney Summers)—but I have worked with many authors who have gone on to be best sellers…
I actually thought about opening up my own literary agency, but a friend who runs her own agency said you can’t be creative, or as creative, as you want, since it’s more paperwork/business stuff. (Being a boss is hard!) So, I just decided to go the freelance editor route. Yes, I’m a boss, but it’s creative, so it feeds my punk rock/anarchist/progressive soul.
And I was quite the hands-on literary agent—I edited the books before taking them on sub. An author of mine at the time, Lyn Fairchild Hawks, wrote a blog post about me as a great agent and it made me realize I am pretty great! (Humblebrag here—did you know I came up with the Courtney Summers book title This Is Not a Test? And my mom’s advice to me about boys showed up in Courtney Summers’s All the Rage? I also encouraged Amy Reed to edit the Our Stories, Our Voices anthology and helped shape the 2014 Stonewall Award winner Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills… I’m not here to take credit away from anyone, either—these books are incredible—I just think I also deserve some credit!)
It was that blog post that made me realize I would make a great developmental editor. Which was the “hands-on” part of my agenting—the reading/revising/notes/brainstorming/etc.—that I did (and did because I loved it—not all agents do this nor are they capable of doing it) that made turning freelance easy.
Q: Since you’re an editor now, for those of us who want to write books and have them published, would we email them to you so you can edit them and give us feedback on how to make them better?
A: Yes. I offer editorial services solely to females (ALL females, including female-identifying and GNC/NB) writers.
Email me with a query—not as formal or “perfect” as you would an agent (don’t sweat it), but do tell me about your work (a YA thriller called ___, set at a boarding school … an adult horror about AI and dating … a murder mystery where the invitees are all long-lost relatives, similar to ____… a rom com where the MC is reminiscent of Bridget Jones) and inquire about services (I offer different types of editing) and the rates for each type. Email me at: email@example.com.
(You can visit my website: amy-tipton.com for services and rate info, including testimonials.)
But please note that I don’t read partials (nor do I do sample edits) and I’m not a proofreader or copy editor—those are different jobs!
Q: What advice would you give to those wanting to become literary agents and/or editors?
A: First, I would wish them luck. Second, I would say get ready to hustle! The publishing industry doesn’t pay—you really have to love the job and be dedicated to this craft. (And it’s not all reading either, an unfortunate misconception.)
Sometimes, you have to track down editors (who just ignore follow-ups) or argue about higher advances for authors or scramble to find an audio publisher or a film/TV agent (garnering their interest is almost another full time job!)… And keeping track of those foreign rights?—who has what where (another full time position, if you don’t have a foreign rights agent to work with)—can be an insane workload.
In this fast-food/one-stop-shop culture, the writer-agent job grows, and so the stress is greater. I had a stroke in my 30s—I’m not about to have a heart attack in my 40s! (Hence, I went from traditional publishing/agenting to being a freelance editor.)
Q: Since you used to be a literary agent and now an editor, would you ever try your hand at writing your own books? If so, which genres would you write in?
A: I actually went to school for writing (my BA, MA, MFA), so I was doing a fair amount of writing on my own before I started agenting. (I even published a couple of pieces here and there.) But I will say I stopped trying to seriously write almost as soon as I started working—as early as being an assistant, around 25-26.
I just had a hard time keeping my stories straight—I would constantly wonder “is that my idea or someone else’s?”
I would go to jot a random thought down—on a receipt or napkin, on whatever I could find, even a gum wrapper—and I’d pause, *Did I read that situation/scene somewhere?* or think *Is that dialogue coming from me/my character or…?* I was/am very cautious…
However, stopping was easier than you would have thought. I mean, I was already working with books and writers. I was in the publishing world! And I had all the tools to help writers—I knew how a story should work, I knew how to communicate with writers (all the jargon/slang writers use), I’d read a lot of the same books… I was not (I’m still not!) a “suit”—I’m an editor who can relate to an author and understand where they’re coming from and offer the appropriate guidance.
Also, editing reminds me slightly of DJing & slightly of the Cut-up technique popularized by writers like William S. Burroughs, so I feel like a small (small) piece of me is in every book I touch.
I’m satisfied not writing. From my perspective, I’m still helping create/shape the literary landscape.
Q: Would you like to tell us about some of the many famous authors you represented as their literary agent?
A: Before they were famous (they got famous on their own with another agent), I worked with Victoria Schwab and Tahereh Mafi and Suzanne Young. And, of course, I repped NYT Bestseller Courtney Summers, Stonewall Prize winner Kirstin Cronn-Mills, as well as prolific writers such as Amy Reed and K. Ancrum, and the list of talented authors (and photographers!) goes on…
I’m working with some pretty talented indie writers, too, right now! One has a movie option in the works, a few have won awards, several have been guests on panels, at conferences and had their own book tours … A couple have been USA Today Bestsellers!
I’ve been quite fortunate in my career, to say the least.
Q: What is your favorite part about being an editor? What was your favorite part about being a literary agent? Would you ever go back to being a literary agent again?
A: You know that song (it’s a cover, but in 1990 I had no idea—I was 11, gimme a break!) I’m Free by The Soup Dragons (Rolling Stones) where it says, ‘I’m free to do what I want any old time/I said I’m free to do what I want any old time’—yeah, that’s how I feel about being a freelance editor vs. a literary agent. I don’t see myself going back (though, I never say never and according to an ex-client, she told me she gives me 10 years until I return—I have 5 more years left).
I absolutely love doing my job. I cut out all the stuff I hated doing as an agent. I don’t negotiate deals or read contracts or explain royalty statements (which can be so confusing even I sometimes had a hard time reading them!), but I am known (if you want to follow the traditional pub path) to use my knowledge, experience, and contacts to help you find an agent or publisher (not always though and you certainly shouldn’t expect it).
What you can expect is someone who reads as a professional CP, someone who does apply all her knowledge and years of experience to help you—the author—put your best book forward. Someone who reads and comes up with suggestions, asks questions, and someone who enjoys brainstorming and collaborating. (I have always loved this part of the job and to be able to continue doing it is living the dream, in my opinion).