Monday, December 12, 2011

Literary Agent Marisa Corvisiero, Esq. is interviewed

By Janet Fogg

Today, Chiseled in Rock is delighted to speak with Marisa Iozzi Corvisiero. Last week Marisa shared some exciting news with us about new changes in her career, and we’re pleased to share that information.

But let’s back up for just a moment to properly introduce Marisa. An experienced attorney, Marisa founded The Corvisiero Law Practice, a boutique law firm in midtown New York City. While continuing to practice law, Marisa also became fascinated by the publishing business, and works with the L. Perkins Agency as an agent.

Marisa represents science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, adventure, and romance, as well as young adult and children's literature. In non-fiction, she enjoys business, spiritual, parenting, self-help, and mainstream science.

In June of 2011 Marisa partnered with Jo Ann Kairys, a colleague, author, editor, publisher, and friend to form Literary Powerhouse Consulting, LLC. Their mission is to provide a comprehensive package of literary advisory services to anyone needing guidance within the publishing industry. Marisa is very excited about the myriad services and opportunities they’re providing.

CIR: Marisa, please tell us about your dual professions and your start as an agent.

MC: 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. 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 self-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’ve learned lots of lessons. Today, I continue to practice law at the Corvisiero Law Practice, and I represent several very talented authors.

CIR: Will you also describe the services you’re providing with your new endeavor – Literary Powerhouse Consulting - and tell us why you decided to form LPH?

MC: LPH is my baby - an entity that my partner Jo Ann Kayris and I formed in order to provide Literary Consulting services. Jo Ann is an award winning author and founder of Story Quest Publishing. Her expertise and temperament complement mine quite nicely – we met at a writers critique group years ago and hit it off right away. Through the years we have been in touch and have helped each other in various capacities, from editing to legal services.

Our decision to pair up and offer these services evolved from numerous requests we received independently for literary consulting, guidance and coaching within different facets of publishing. After some discussions we decided to make it official and actually offer these much needed services to help authors navigate the deep waters of the publishing industry. As we started putting out heads together, we decided that our expertise and contacts would really be invaluable for anyone from authors to book sellers, so we expanded our services into a comprehensive package that will provide "one stop shopping" for anyone in the industry. We knew right away that we were onto something pretty cool – creating a service that is much needed in the industry. We feel that there is so much information out there, and that there are so many rules and procedures to follow, that it is easy to be discouraged by the whole thing. Nor is information that is out there offered all in one place. So that is exactly what we decided to do.

This idea however, became even bigger when we decided to do something interactive and special on our site. As we developed our Webpages with the genius of Erin Gilman, we decided to create a social media platform that would be exclusive to industry folks. The goal was to have a closed universe in publishing where people could meet, socialize, promote, learn, and share with others with similar interests without the worries of outsiders, advertisers, and hackers. We loved this idea and ran with it, and as we did, each time we had a brainstorming session each of us brought a plethora of amazing ideas to the table. As a result, what started of as a wonderful consulting services website has now evolved into what we have dubbed a “Portal.” We call it a Portal because it is going to be so huge and so unique, that entering it will be like traversing a Portal into the literary publishing dimension where anything is possible.

The Literary Powerhouse Portal will include "PowerTools" to help authors get published and get lots of sales, help agents work their wonder, help publishers with contacts and promoting sales.

The Power Tools are services or capabilities made possible with special software designed with our goals in mind. These PowerTools are intertwined with the social media site and discussion forum, allowing users to join and set up groups, attend seminars and workshops online, create a new blog or link their existing blog, manage projects, video chat, IM, share files, report book publishing deals, find and submit to agents and publishers, track submissions, find and apply to contests, submit projects to book reviewers, find the right PR firm, and so much more. We have huge ideas for this site above and beyond anything that is out there now. It's going to be amazing! We are shooting to launch it early next year and are about to put a countdown clock on the site so folks know when they can start signing up.

CIR: How will LPH interface with the other professional services you provide? (And do you ever sleep?!)

MC: The good thing about what I do is that all of my endeavors complement each other - I'm able to offer a full package. Most authors, at some point or another, will likely need some or all of our services - from the time they finish their manuscript to when they figure out how to find and sign the right agent, to making deals with publishers and promoting their books. If anyone needs help with any of these things we coach them through it. If they need an agent, they can submit to me and I will consider their work. If they need help with a contract that I didn't negotiate as an agent, or other legal services, I help them through the law firm. We are very careful to keep things compartmentalized for the sake of avoiding conflicts or crossing those ethical boundaries. …And do I sleep? Not as much as I'd like to.

CIR: You believe 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?

MC: 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: What do you enjoy most about representing authors to the publishing industry? Least?

MC: I love reading and pitching books to publishers. I only 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 excited. 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: Do you hope to increase your client base?

MC: Yes, I’m looking for new talent. I periodically suspend submissions so that I can catch up, so anyone who would like to submit to me should first look at my submission guidelines listed on my blog. I update this all the time, so I suggest people look at the blog and not the website.

The good news is that in the past year or so I’ve been working with some wonderful people whom I now call my team. Brittany Booker and Jordy Albert have now become my Jr. Agents and they are helping me do submissions and review queries as they learn hands on. We also have a couple of good interns that have huge potential. So everything is growing and we are making good progress towards offering efficient and wonderful services.

CIR: Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to submissions?

MC: 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 peeves 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?

MC: Superpowers are still big, but we are not looking to them as part of the future. I’m looking for fresh material and ideas. I want to be wowed by the next big thing. I had predicted mermaids to jump into the waters, but the ideas were contrived and have not done so well.

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 back.

CIR: What one piece of advice would you offer to authors seeking representation?

MC: 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.

The Literary Powerhouse Portal will be a wonderful source to use when researching Agents and their guidelines, response time, and the deal that they make. 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: What are you most excited about, with the launch of LPH?

MC: There are so many things to be exited about. Calling LitPow mine and having the control over our services and our presence is wonderful. I’m good at seeing the whole picture and how it fits into a scene. And because of it, sometimes it is difficult for me to leave the vision to others.

I do have to say though, that I’m most exited about the Portal and everything that we will offer with that membership. The PowerTools are wonderful and powerful - and yes that pun is intended… that is actually how we came up with the name Literary Powerhouse. I personally can’t wait to use them and to also see how everyone else takes advantage of the benefits they will bring to them. These tools will provide information, resources, organization, networking and more. They offer some services and information that can be gathered from various resources, now packaged and enhanced in one organized place …at the user’s fingertips. And to make it even better we uniquely connected those resources to our services. Our presence and the participation of our expert connections, colleagues, clients, and friends will make it a valuable experience every time the member logs in.

Lastly, I’m exited and happy to say that this Portal will help authors and industry people at all levels. I think that it has the potential to change how many people do their research, their submissions and their publicity. All in all, this will be the only site they will ever need!

CIR: Now to digress, and 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?

MC: 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.

CIR: You can visit Marisa at www.thoughtsfromaliteraryagent@blogspot.com for submission guidelines and updates, or www.literarypowerhouse.com (may still be under construction) for detailed information about their services. You can follow her on Twitter @mcorvisiero and the website for her law firm is www.corvisierolaw.com.

Thank you, Marisa! And best of luck in your new endeavors!

Janet Fogg

(CIR first interviewed Marisa in February 2011 and she has kindly answered additional questions for today's post.)