Wind Up for The Pitch: Meet Laura Dail
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!
Laura Dail graduated from Duke University and received her Master’s degree in Spanish from Middlebury College. She has served on the board of the Association of Authors Representatives (AAR) and currently chairs the AAR Royalties Committee.
Her agency, Laura Dail Literary Agency, Inc., has represented fiction and nonfiction, for both adults and children, for more than 20 years. They—there are 4 agents at the firm—represent a wide range of diverse authors, including bestselling authors of children’s fiction, Kiera Cass, Sarah J. Maas, and Sarah Mlynowski, award-winning and bestselling journalists, historians, and mystery and thriller writers.
Follow Laura on Twitter at @LCDail and the agency at @LDLiterary.
What's the best book (or books) you've read this year?
I devoured The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore (who also wrote “The Imitation Game"). I consider it a gold standard in historical fiction. Speaking of historical fiction, I also really liked The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown. Another gold standard, different genre: What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman. I also loved and remain haunted by The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Oh, also: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. In nonfiction, I can’t remember a more eye-opening book than Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, by Sam Quiñones. I could go on, but I would risk trotting out our own books and authors and that would probably not be cool.
What's the most common misconception about agents?
The most common misconception about agents is that “we like to fight.” We don’t! Or I don’t. I go to great lengths to anticipate problems and issues in order to avoid fights! A rising tide lifts all boats and we all thrive when publisher, agent, and author are humming along harmoniously.
What's the most rewarding part of your job? What's the most difficult part?
There are so many rewarding things about this job: Obviously, discovering something amazing — that rising rush when you’re saying to yourself as you turn the pages, oh my gosh, please stay this good, please stay this good. And then, obviously, selling that amazing thing— picking up the phone when the perfect editor calls and starts telling you all the things they loved about the manuscript even more eloquently than what you conveyed in the first place. But all the little connections along the way are rewarding — writing to someone you met a decade ago and having her book your author on her radio show, or interview the author for their blog, etc… Every effective thing you do for a book that you love is rewarding.
And the most difficult part of the job? Well, here’s a pesky thing I did just this morning: calculating the mysterious bank fees and transfer charges of an international wire with an undisclosed exchange rate.
If you could change one thing about publishing, what would it be?
What would I change about publishing? I’d grant us all 5 more hours in a day, 2 more days in a week, and 1 more month in a year, to read more, think more, enjoy each other, and ponder all the deep thoughts in a good novel, the love of a great character, the thrill of a plot twist you didn’t see coming.
When you aren't out finding the next literary superstar, what keeps you busy?
When I’m not reading, editing, or otherwise agenting, you can probably find me on a yoga mat. I’m a handstand junkie and yoga devotee. Also love to hike and travel. Never been to Minneapolis, though, and can’t wait.