Ella Marie tells us a little about her background…
My career as a literary agent began with a supportive high school teacher. Actually, that’s not at all how it began. My favorite teacher sat me down and talked me out of pursuing an English degree, because I was “too smart”, and “it was hard to find a job”, and the good ole “there’s no money in it”. So, like any good girl I followed authority and pursued engineering. Then I came to my senses, bucked authority, fell in with the really cool kids and switched to study English.
Immediately after college I began a lucrative career in the publishing industry! Um…No! I spent years working random jobs and having my family. I honestly started to wonder if good old teach was right. I always pushed those fears down and continued reading, studying, and consuming anything to do with my love of books. So, when the opportunity came to start work at the Belcastro Agency, I jumped at the chance.
CIR: From the Rock staff, our most sincere appreciation to you for becoming a regular on here, Ella Marie! I’d like to focus on your background and the unique topics you’ll be bringing to our rock garden. You used to be in the private sector before going for this. Do you find any similarities between the world you’re in now and the one of yesteryear?
EMS: Some things never change. You definitely have to maintain a monster work ethic, strive for excellence, expand your knowledge with the ever changing market, and be true to yourself. Some things are worlds apart. An opportunity to be a proponent for a story that you love is an honor. It’s a level of satisfaction that is a rare achievement in any work environment.
CIR: You seem to be very patient. I can attest to this because of your thorough editing of my work and because on one particular occasion, I damn near made an ass out of myself by jumping to conclusions. Any secrets to your steady-as-she-goes attitude?
EMS: Deep breathing…Chamomile tea. No, every author I work with I like. We both have the same goal and I am always confident it will be reached.
CIR: Did social networking come to you naturally with the job?
EMS: Naturally is a very strong word. I prefer my nose in a book rather than scrolling down a computer screen, but it has become an essential part of the business. After all I love to shout to the corners of the world about a remarkable novel. Now I can do it with a few taps on a key board rather than flagging people down on the street.
CIR: Among the several gems, you’ll be offering on the Rock, a lot of them will be examples from authors’ publications which are represented by the Belcastro Agency with explanations as to why you selected their queries and wanted to read more. I think these postings will be must reads for pre-published writers.Of course, this doesn’t mean automatic representation by the Belcastro Agency if authors follow the examples to a T in their queries. Rather, the postings are to serve as guidance to help writers in their correspondence with all agents and editors. This is, after all, a subjective business. How many examples do you have ready?
EMS: The list goes on and on and expands daily. I can remember what grabbed me about each and every story we represent. From the initial query (that enamored feeling), to the manuscript read (I think I’m in love), to finally communicating with the author and contracting the story (this is a partnership made in heaven). Okay, I’m passionate about my work.
CIR: Oh no, here I…go…with…a…oddball request—can’t…stop. Who do you think was the coolest character in the Star Wars universe?
EMS: I must say Boba Fett. Why is a mystery even to me, but I believe it has something to do with silence, strength, getting the job done, and commanding respect. Oh yeah, and the cool costume doesn’t hurt.
CIR: Right on! Thanks for indulging my/our Chiseled in Rock individualism by enduring that inquiry. Are there any other artistic business ventures in which you’d be interested, for instance, talent management for recording artists?
EMS: It would be a crime against nature if I attempted to manage recording artists. I have a voice only my own babies would love, and even then I only had about eighteen months. I’ll stick with books.
CIR: Thanks again for bringing your perspective of this game to us monthly, Ella Marie.
EMS: Thank you for the opportunity. I hope these segments open up interesting comments and conversation that lead to talented writers gaining great representation.
Sharon Belcastro and Ella Marie Shupe (both with the Belcastro Literary Agency) will be alternating postings the first week of each month on Wednesdays.