Wind Up for The Pitch: Meet Stacy Testa
As we get ready for the 2018 Pitch Conference (April 20-21) here at the Loft, we're getting to know some of the agents and editors who will be in attendance. They can't wait to hear your pitches and read your work. If you have a finished manuscript to pitch, here's your chance—register now!
Stacy Testa is an agent at Writers House, which she joined in 2011. She represents a wide range of genres, from literary, upmarket, and historical fiction to memoir, narrative, and platform-driven nonfiction. In her spare time, she practices yoga and attempts to tackle the ever-growing stack of books on her nightstand before it becomes a safety hazard.
We asked Stacy a few questions about books, reading, and her perspective on publishing.
What's the best book (or books) you've read this year?
I thoroughly enjoyed One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul, which provided some much needed laughs last spring. And what a title, right? On the darker side of things, I quite liked Han Kang’s The Vegetarian in all its strange intensity. It makes for an almost claustrophobic reading experience, and I mean that as a compliment. Most recently, I loved Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy, a heartbreaking novel about loneliness that I found absolutely delicious.
What's the most common misconception about agents?
That we are looking for reasons to say no! It may well be our most frequent response but, trust me, we are hoping to fall in love with every manuscript we read.
What's the most rewarding part of your job? What's the most difficult part?
Calling a client to tell them that a publisher has made an offer on their book will never cease to be a thrilling experience, especially if it’s a debut. Neither will seeing a client’s book out in the wild, being read by a fellow subway passenger or perused by a stranger in an airport. It’s just exhilarating to see something you love so dearly actually become a part of someone else’s everyday life. The hardest part, of course, is hearing the rejections from publishers. I am filled with a maternal sense of outrage every. single. time. Like, how dare you speak about my Timmy like that? You don’t even know him. The trick is to keep your indignation to yourself and move on to the “it’s your loss” phase as quickly as possible.
If you could change one thing about publishing, what would it be?
I think it’s hugely problematic that unpaid (or poorly paid) internships are the primary way to get your start in this industry. It ends up meaning that only locals and those who are able to subsidize the cost of living in New York can afford to join the publishing ranks, which of course perpetuates a lack of diversity in the business. It’s hard to break this cycle, especially since publishing isn’t the most lucrative business in the world, which makes free or cheap labor that much more attractive. But I do think it would help if completing an internship in the industry were no longer considered a prerequisite to getting an entry-level job.
When you aren't out finding the next literary superstar, what keeps you busy?
Yoga! It is the only thing that keeps me sane in the chaos that is New York City.