Meet the faculty of the 2018 Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. We’ve asked all our faculty members to answer 4 quick questions so we can get to know them better.
Sarah LaPolla, Agent, Bradford Literary Agency
Sarah LaPolla joined Bradford Literary Agency in 2013. Prior to that, she worked in the foreign rights department at Curtis Brown, Ltd. and became an associate agent there in 2010. Sarah received her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Ithaca College.
Representing MG, YA, and Adult fiction, Sarah is especially drawn to the following genres: literary fiction, science fiction, magical realism, dark/psychological mystery, literary horror, and upmarket contemporary fiction. No matter the genre, Sarah is drawn to engaging voices, a wide range of emotions, and characters who challenge the status quo.
What attracted you to children’s books?
My favorite books to read usually have teen or young protagonists, whether it’s YA or Adult fiction. There’s something so hopeful about MG and YA, no matter how dark the subject matter. The characters have more ahead of them than behind them, and the possibilities with the storytelling feel endless.
What’s the best part of your job?
It changes on a daily basis, but consistently it comes down to my clients. The level of talent I get to work with is so rewarding, and whether it’s reading a submission, calling an author about an offer, or helping them revise their work, I feel grateful that I get to be a part of bringing their books into the world.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
This also changes on a daily basis. Most of the time, it’s delivering bad news. Sometimes we have to say things authors don’t want to hear – the new manuscript isn’t working, we got a rejection from an editor, etc. This is part of the job, which is why trust is such an important part of the agent/author relationship.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given that helped drive your career?
That there’s not one right way to be an agent, which I think is true for being a writer too. Everyone has different tastes and work styles and attitudes, and learning to let go of what I was “supposed to be” vs. “what I am” made all the difference, and made me a better agent. Sometimes we get advice and convince ourselves it doesn’t apply to us until we’re finally ready to hear it.
Come see Sarah at the 2018 Austin SCBWI conference, April 28-29, 2018