Interview with the Agent: Tina Wexler of ICM

Back in the days of endless research into how write a query letter, how to get an agent, how not to snap and become an axe murderer on the road to publication, etc., I read a lot about how your agent should be a good “fit” for you. And I thought to myself, yeah, that’s nice, but I’ll take a rabid grizzly bear as long as he or she likes my book. Luckily, I didn’t have to venture into the Alaskan wilderness, because I found Tina. Or rather, Tina and I found each other, in a fated journey not unlike the plot of Sleepless in Seattle. To this day I am still in awe at how well we “fit”, and what a perfect partner she is for me on this long strange journey. I can think of no better example than a few weeks ago, when she mentioned both Friday Night Lights AND the legendary abyssmal Kim-and-the-mountain-lion plot from 24 IN THE SAME TWEET. “This,” I said to my computer screen, nodding sagely. “This is why you’re my agent.”

So heeeeeere’s Tina!

And the little Grim Reaper I made for her.

Other than fielding ridiculous questions from me on an hourly basis, what’s a typical day like for you?

First of all, you do not ask ridiculous questions. You just ask a lot of them—which is a good thing! Now, onto my day.

My workday usually starts with a subway ride to the office, during which I’ll read: a manuscript from my submission log, a client’s manuscript, a published book, PW, Kirkus. The rest of the day is spent reading and responding to emails from clients, potential clients, editors, scouts, producers, colleagues, and my mom, though the content of those emails—and the content of the phone calls and the meetings and the lunches—changes all the time. Today, I’ve emailed two clients about their revisions, emailed another to tell him the option on his novel has been renewed, and now I’m trying to compose semi-intelligent responses for this interview. Yesterday I was haggling over ebook royalties (Will I ever NOT be haggling over ebook royalties?), writing up a submission list and poring over a revised marketing plan. Each day is different in that way, which I love. I also love that my day revolves around stories, storytellers and readers (the people, not the devices, though there’s a good bit of that too). Usually, the day ends with another subway ride home where I’ll read more of what I started that morning or something new. If I like what I’m reading or I’m behind on my reading, I’ll eat dinner with a manuscript beside me. If it’s really good, I’ll take it to bed with me. Other days end with a reading or a launch party or drinks with an editor or scout (to discuss BUSINESS!)  And others end with—let’s be honest—take-out and TV.

Speaking of television, we already know you have excellent taste in programming. So on the other end, defend your favorite guilty-pleasure television show.

I’m so far down the rabbit hole, I don’t even know what shows I should feel guilty about anymore. Maybe Cougar Town? I don’t count it as a guilty pleasure, since it’s one of the funniest shows on TV, but the name of the show is so misleading. It’s kind of hard not to feel silly when I’m talking about it, no matter how hard I laugh at their titlecard gags.

So, how did you get to be so awesome? Have you been that way since birth, or was it a Peter-Parker-radioactive-spider-bite situation?

My brother says, and I quote: “If my sister is at all awesome, it’s because she had me as her older brother.” So now you know.

As I explained in my post about how I got an agent, I did not even realize you were an agent for the better part of the conference, and then once I did, I gave you the most laughable homemade business card in the history of capitalism. What are your memories of that fateful day, other than BWAHAHAFAIL?

Wait! It turns out you DO ask ridiculous questions. Because my memory goes like this: I’m sitting in the corner (Apparently, some people DO put baby in the corner) facing a semi circle of writers who are all pitching an editor sitting across from them in the center of the room. The majority of the pitches are for adult fiction, which I don’t represent much of, so I’m listening, but I’m not really sitting up. I may indeed be slouching. Then you start your pitch and I am sitting. UP. Grim Reapers? YA? Funny? I need to read this manuscript. When you are finished with your pitch, I babble about my love of YA and how I’m always looking for manuscripts that will fill the hole left by canceled TV shows (RIP Dead Like Me). When we break, I give you my business card. Afterwards, I have lunch with the conference faculty and then head into the office. At 2:55, I email the guy who runs the conference to thank him for inviting me (I’m wicked polite). At 3:13, I email you to remind you that I want to see your manuscript, in the event you forgot about my interest in the two hours since we spoke. I do not play it cool. I do not wait three days before making contact. I am INTERESTED. And I don’t want you to forget it.

Oh, I didn’t forget it. I practically threw up right then and there. Especially since you are so clearly a purveyor of other amazing stuff. Care to share some of your upcoming work?

I’m really excited about the books I have coming out this year (and not just because 2012 will give us TWO novels from you.) If I were still in middle school, I’d be staying up way past my bedtime with OLIVIA BEAN, TRIVIA QUEEN by Donna Gephart; DRAGONBORN by Toby Forward; HERBERT’S WORMHOLE: The Rise and Fall of El Solo Libre by Peter Nelson and Rohitosh Rao; and SWIPE by Evan Angler. Moody high school me wouldn’t even be able to feign disinterest in THE UNQUIET by Jeannine Garsee and THE FORGETTING CURVE by Angie Smibert. And my toddler and I will be drooling all over GOODNIGHT, LAILA TOV by Laurel Snyder and Jui Ishida; and GANESHA’S SWEET TOOTH by Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes. I’m also really excited to see the publication of “my” first chapter book series: JINXED! and STEAL THAT BASE! (both Topps League Stories) by Kurtis Scaletta and Eric Wight.

In a related question, why, in your expert opinion, is Titanic the best movie ever?

Because Kathy Bates is kickass. And I will love Leonardo DiCaprio forever and ever amen.

It’s funny that you mention Titanic, because it just so happens to have a cameo appearance in Croak. Hey, Croak is coming out next Tuesday! What do you have to say about that?

Rather, what can I say about CROAK that won’t make me look like a complete nutjob? Because, let’s face it, I’m kind of crazycatlady in love with this book and there aren’t even any cats in it. For one, I want Lex to be my BFF, even though I know just SAYING that disqualifies me from being her BFF. Second, I’m in love with Driggs, which makes me think I wouldn’t be such a great BFF to Lex. But I’m also in love with Uncle Mort. (That’s not weird, right?) And the story itself is [censored] amazing. Teenagers reaping souls?  Mysterious deaths? Vigilante justice? Feral raccoons?! There’s just so much to love. Plus, it’s funny. Very very funny. Funny in a way that annoys other people because you keep interrupting whatever they’re doing so you can read them passages from the book and eventually they just say, “Screw it, Tina. Just read me the whole book if you’re going to keep this up.” And so you do. Because it’s that kind of amazing.

Thanks so much Tina! Now back to your ebook haggling and Leo ogling!

**Tina is always open to receiving queries in the category of MG and YA. You can find her email address scattered around the interwebs.**

Want more Reaper Madness? Check out these previous posts:

Day 1 – Free Badges
Day 2 – Event Schedule
Day 3 – Blurbs
Day 4 – Adirondacks Facks
Day 5 – Croak trailer
Day 6 – Sample chapter
Day 7 – Goodreads Giveaway
Day 8 – Pinterest Day
Day 9 – Dear Teen Me
Day 10 – Jellyfish
Day 11 – Black Widow Spiders
Day 12 – Final Last Words – Apocalypsies Edition
Day 13 – Interview with the Editor: Julie Tibbott of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


  1. Awesome you two found each other! (and an additional yay for FNL, Kim Bauer’s ridiculous antics, Dead Like Me, and even though you didn’t mention it, Independence Day:) )

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