Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chiseled in Rock - Interview of Marisa Iozzi Corvisiero, Literary Agent

Preliminary Draft and Questions for the Marisa A. Corvisiero, Esq. Interview:

Today, Chiseled in Rock has the pleasure of interviewing Marisa Iozzi Corvisiero. An experienced entertainment attorney, Marisa founded The Corvisiero Law Practice, a boutique law firm in midtown New York City. She is also an agent with the L. Perkins Agency, whose five agents represent approximately 200 authors in a variety of genres. Founded in 1987, the Agency also works with an established film agency and has agents in 11 foreign countries.

As an agent, Marisa’s represents science fiction, fantasy, horror and romance, as well young adult and children's literature. In non-fiction, she enjoys memoirs, how-to, guides and tales about the legal practice, parenting, self-help, and mainstream science, but no text books.

CIR: Marisa, please tell us about your dual professions and your start as an agent.
I started wearing my agent hat after some of my author friends and colleagues asked me to represent them in their book deals through my law firm. Then I started submitting them too. We all know how difficult it is to find the right agent and to have editors take authors seriously if they are not represented or already pre published. In fact, many of the traditional publishers don’t accept un-agented work. So I started out by lending a hand. I lost a couple of paying clients when I started representing them as their agent. (because agents are not paid until they sell the work) But it all worked out in the end. One thing led to another and eventually I joined Lori Perkins’ Agency, where I learned lots of lessons. Today, I continue to practice law at the Corvisiero Law Practice, and I represent several very talented authors. I am still building a client list.

CIR: It sounds as if there’s a great deal of communication and joint-decision making at your agency. Would you please describe your process, as far as signing a new writer?
My process, although it is time consuming, is a simple one. All my queries are saved in a folder, when I review them, if I like the letter and the first few pages, I ask for the synopsis or the manuscript. If I’m not sure, I forward it to my two Junior Agents for their opinions. If I don’t think that the work is ready for publication and/or I don’t think that the story is marketable, I decline the query. Then if I like the story based on the synopsis, I ask for the manuscript. When I read the manuscript I have at least one of my Jr. Agents or readers read it as well. If we love a manuscript, I offer the author representation.

CIR: Certain agents edit a manuscript prior to shopping it to editors. Others don’t. How would you describe yourself and how important is it for a writer to be flexible about changing their manuscript?
I don’t edit manuscripts myself anymore, but I always have comments for the author. I’m never short on opinions. ;) If I really like a manuscript, but I think that it needs work, I usually ask for a revision or suggest that the author have it edited. I often share the comments of my Jrs with the author as well. They always give me very good input.

CIR: The economic downturn has impacted every sector. Are there any new pressures on agents that stem from the current economy?
I am fairly sure that the state of today’s economy has affected most of us in some way. For agents, it has made it more difficult to place books and has changed the structure of the deals. It is more difficult to place books because of the high mobility of editors, everything that is going on inside the publishing houses, and because most are making more conservative acquisitions in quantity and payment.

CIR: Your agency believes all authors should be published in both print and e-pub format. With e-pub sales strengthening, are your contract negotiations with publishers changing in regard to, for example, the amount of an advance? Or any other contract terms?
E-books are the wave of the future, but I don’t think that print is going extinct anytime soon. So we strongly believe that every book should be out there in every media form. When negotiating with publishers, if they want to acquire the right to put a book out in all of these mediums, then my job is to make sure that the author is compensated accordingly, and that the publisher will in fact use these rights. If they can’t give the proper assurances, even though nothing is ever one hundred percent certain, then we try to retain the rights and offer them to someone else.

CIR: Is the ease with which writers can self-publish having a significant impact on you as an agent?
Nope… and that could be all of my answer, but I’ll elaborate. A huge number of authors are going the vanity press route. However, even those writers that self publish still continue to submit their books to agents so that the agent can sell the book to a bigger press. Those publishers don’t, or shouldn’t, retain the rights to the author’s work for the simple fact that the press is not paying for the book. In the contrary, the author is paying the press to put the book out, so the author should have all the rights to the work. I’ll say it again, all authors should retain their copyrights when self publishing. Authors still want a large publisher to acquire their books because the publisher will have better distribution channels, will pay for the printing, will often pay an advance, and then royalties. Lets face it, it is difficult to sell books and having a publisher’s help can make the world of difference. Anyone can have a book self published, it’s the selling that’s tricky. With this foreknowledge, most authors who have self published still seek an agent.

CIR: What do you enjoy most about representing authors to the publishing industry? Least?
I love reading and pitching books to publishers. I only accept to represent books and projects that I really believe in, and so my enthusiasm gives me an extra umph when telling others about it. I get very exited. What I like the least is that publishers have a certain quota of books that they will acquire, and so often they have a specific list of things that they are looking for and may pass up a great project just because they need to keep looking for the perfect fit. It can be discouraging, especially when you are the one breaking the news.

CIR: Are you hoping to increase your client base?
Yes, I’m always looking for new talent. I am currently not accepting queries because I’m trying to catch up on the huge volume of queries that I receive monthly. I have quite a few queries that go back a while and I would really like to respond to all of them and hopefully find some gems. So even though queries are suspended, I am still taking on clients.

CIR: Do you have any pet peeves, when it comes to submissions?
I think that sometimes I’m more tolerant than other agents when it comes to queries. Of course, I don’t like it when someone misspells my name or sends me a query that is part of a mass e-mail, but I don’t think that it justifies turning an author away because of it. Do I take it into consideration if the rest of the query is weak? You bet. My real pet peeve though, are sloppy and difficult to read formats. I don’t like queries that start by telling me what the character was thinking or doing. To me, that should be in the middle of the letter. A good query should start by telling me that they have a romance (or other genre) 80K word (proper word count for age group and genre) finished manuscript that they think I will like it because…. I think that research is paramount. The author should know the genre of his or her work, the target readers (at least gender and age), and by knowing this, they can learn how long the work should be. I will be writing a blog post on this soon to put the info out there all in one place. In the mean time authors should keep in mind that the younger the reader the shorter the work should be. And the more sophisticated the reader (sci-fi/fantasy) the more allowance they have to get creative with a longer manuscript. But don’t go crazy. If your novel is longer than 115K especially for a debut, you should consider some edits. I know that there are novels out there that were the author’s first, and are much longer than that… etc, etc. I know. I’ve read twilight and harry potter too. But they are among the few, and just because they made it, it doesn’t mean that it was easy. I think that they are wonderful series, but in a way they were lucky. Having said that… I’m not telling everyone to conform. I’m just saying that there are certain ‘rules,’ if you will, in the industry. If you really believe in your work and it doesn’t follow the norm, trust your self (to a realistic level) and go for it with gusto. Just be prepared to know that it will harder than hard, but if you keep at it you just might get lucky too.

CIR: Any predictions about what might be the next big thing in publishing? What trend(s) do you see fading?

I think that mythology and superheroes are fading, but not super powers. Submissions with “special” characters still come in by the lot. If you’re wondering about vampires and think that the market is saturated, think again. We are just obsessed with vampires and can’t seem to get enough. The trend that I do see, is a new age of vampires that are not so sweet and glamorous (I’m obviously not including True Blood). Traditional vampires are inching their way back. I’m also predicting that there will be some very cool mermaid stories. I’m looking for a good one now.

CIR: Do you represent manuscripts that you believe will sell, even if you don't personally love the work?
I represent manuscripts that I love and think that they will sell. It’s a must have combo. I’m not saying that if I love something but I don’t think that it will sell, I’ll turn it down. I’m saying that if I like something, I think that others will to, and therefore it will sell. It sounds a bit egocentric, but its not. My tastes are fairly ‘normal’ in that I’m usually on the same wavelength as others.

CIR: What one piece of advice would you offer to authors seeking representation?
Do your research and always put your best foot forward. Learn about the industry, but don’t forget that in the end your writing speaks for itself. So hone in on your craft, keep learning and perfecting your work. And most importantly, never give up. This is a tough industry to break into. Agents are incredibly busy and will unfortunately review your work looking for reasons not to represent you, because unfortunately, that’s how most editors review work. So don’t give them any. Always submit finished work, the best work that you can possibly produce, and then be professional and attentive. It’s okay to innocently stalk your agent’s facebook page and blog to see what they are up to, but don’t bombard them with follow up emails. Know the agent’s policy on responses and when it is okay to follow up or assume that they are not interested if you have not heard back. QueryTraker is a great source for see the actual response stats that the agents don’t tell you about on their blogs and websites. When you do hear back always respond quickly and be ready to provide a synopsis and your manuscript. If you meet an agent or make a connection somewhere, follow up graciously and always strike while the iron is hot. Don’t let them forget you.

CIR: Now, in accordance with our CIR M.O., I would like to ask an off-track question. What did you dream of doing when you were twelve years old?
Lol I like this one...I wanted to be an Astronaut or Singer… you know, because the two have so many elements in common. So naturally, I became a lawyer.

You can visit the L. Perkins Agency at for more information and submission guidelines. Marisa’s agent blog is at or you could follow her on facebook (personal Marisa Iozzi Corvisiero, fan Marisa A. Corvisiero- Literary Agent) or twitter @mcorvisiero. The website for her law firm is

Thank you again, Marisa, and best regards.

Janet Fogg

HOLT Medallion Award of Merit


Publisher of erotic fiction to launch Ravenous Nights at Lower East Side venue [Boston, MA – February 1, 2011] – Ravenous Romance™, a leading online publisher of erotic romance novels and short stories has announced a collaboration with New York City literary hot-spot Happy Endings Lounge to host a monthly erotic reading series on the first Friday of every month called Ravenous Nights. Happy Endings, a funky 2-story club that was once a massage parlor, is located at 302 Broome Street. The first Ravenous Night is scheduled for Friday, February 4 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., and it is free of charge.

The lineup for February 4 includes:
• Cecilia Tan, best-selling erotic author of the Magic University series
• Caridad Pinero, New York Times best-selling erotic romance author
• Mo Beasley, founder of Urban Erotika, a spoken word performance series
• KT Grant, author of The Princess' Bride
• Debra Hyde, acclaimed writer of BDSM erotic romance, and the author of the BDSM classic, BLIND SEDUCTION.
• Jefferson, well-known sex blogger and author of M/M short stories for RR anthologies.

The Friday, April 4 lineup will be announced in the coming weeks.

In celebration of Ravenous Nights, Barnes & Noble has announced that they will offer free copies of the Ravenous Romance anthology Once Upon a Threesome to the first 100 people to download it. In addition, Ravenous Romance will give each attendee a free Ravenous Romance drink coaster to each attendee and the Happy Endings Lounge will create a special “Ravenous” cocktail which will only appear on the menu during Ravenous Nights.

Ravenous Nights
Friday, February 4, 2011
8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Free of charge
Location: Happy Endings Lounge
302 Broome Street (at Forsyth St)
(212) 334-9676

[About Ravenous Romance™]

An imprint of Literary Partners Group, Inc., Ravenous Romance offers readers engaging and colorful stories with strong plots and character development, but peppered with steamy love scenes. Products are available in iPhone/iPod app, ebook and audiobook format in 12 different categories, including both modern and historical fiction, suspense, paranormal, gay/lesbian/bisexual, and new age, among others. They also sell a limited number of titles in print on the Home Shopping Network.

For more information please contact Dalyn A. Miller at 617-504-6869 or via email at

Visit Ravenous Romance™ online at

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Is Attending A Conference Worth Your Time & Money?

Are you an author who aspires to be published, or perhaps one that is already published but is aware that the craft of writing is an ongoing learning and enhancement process? If the answer is yes to either of these scenarios, then you should seriously consider attending at least one conference a year. I know that they can be costly, but good conferences happen all over the country on an annual basis. So I'm sure that there must be one near you, or at least one that is within driving distance or a train ride away. Although I can't give you a way to attend for free, I can tell you that the answer posed in the title of this post is a resounding YES.

Like everything else, conferences are really what you make of them. Chances are that if you are interested enough in the publishing industry to be reading this, and you sign up to attend a conference, you are already on the right path.

Conferences are organized events where authors can congregate to meet each other, agents and editors, and attend some really wonderful and constructive panels and workshops. Although these may vary in content and structure from conference to conference, the one thing I say for certain is that no matter who you are, your level of skill and pedigree, you will learn something.

I have been to many conferences since even before I started agenting, and without fail every time I go to a conference I return home and to my office feeling more integrated and knowledgeable about what is going on in the industry and writing overall. When I attend conferences I usually take pitches from authors, do a panel, give a speech, or teach a workshop. Each one of these things is a way for me to give back, but inebitably they also help me to meet more contacts, find talent and when I steel away and crash someone else's workshop...(I do this at least once a day at every conference shhh don't tell anyone) I always learn something. And I'm sure that most attendees would say the same thing.

So my advice would be to do some research and check out the different conferences. You may find one near you that is great for all writers or one that is specialized for your specific genre of fiction. Before signing up take a look at the proposed schedule so that you know what workshops and offerings you want to take advantage of because you may be able to sign up for specific parts of the conference. So best of luck in finding the right conference for you, and I hope you enjoy attending.

Here's a list of some great conferences. One of these may be good for you. Check them out. Maybe I'll see you there too.

Writers Digest Conference - January, New York City
DFW Conference- February, TX
San Francisco Writer's Conference - February, CA
Liberty States Fiction Writer's Conference- March, NJ
Unicorn Writer's Conference- April, CT
New England Young Writer's- May, VT
BackSpace Writers- May
Crested Butte- June 17-19, CO
Jackson Hole- June, WY
RWA- July, NYC
New England Writers- July, VT
Hampton Roads- Sept, VA
Rocky Mountain Writer's Conference- Sept, CO
Florida Writers- October, FL
New England Crime Bake- November, MA

Happy attending, happy learning, and happy writing!