An Interview with Literary Agent Marisa Corvisiero, Esq.

Marisa A. Corvisiero is the founder of the Corvisiero Literary Agency and our Senior Literary Agent, Speaker, Author and an Attorney practicing law with a focus on Corporate Law and Estate Planning in New York City. Ms. Corvisiero received her Bachelors in Business Administration in International Business and Marketing from Hofstra University in 1995, where she was the President of the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity Chapter, and the President of the Pre Law Society during her last year. Ms. Corvisiero received her Juris Doctorate from Pace University School of Law in 2000, and earned Pace University School of Law's prestigious International Law Certificate for her studies in International Law. Marisa seeks works of romance, women's fiction, thrillers, suspense, adventure, sci-fi, fantasy and urban fantasy/paranormal with unique voices and well developed plots for adults, NA, and YA. For MG she seeks adventure, sci-fi, and fantasy stories. She is also looking for creative picture books. For non-fiction she seeks mainstream business and science, and self-help books.

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Interview by Diane Sismour

The Corvisiero Literary Agency owner and her agents are at all the writing conference I attend and their warm and inviting smiles brighten every venue. It gives me great pleasure to announce Marisa Corvisiero as the judge for our 2016 Roundtable Children’s Short Story Contest. Look for details in this issue.

Hi Marisa, welcome to the Roundtable. First, let me thank you for accepting to judge the contest. We look forward to seeing whom you choose for this year’s winner. I know your schedule is busy and appreciate the time to answer a few questions from our Roundtable readers.

BWR: What inspired you to become an agent?

MC: I never really set out to become an agent. I was an attorney who loved to read. One day I had an idea for a book and started to write, and when the book was almost complete, I realized I didn't really know how to get the work published. So, I started learning about publishing and making friends with authors, and then later with agents and editors. To make a long story short, after a while some of my author-friends started asking me to connect them with some of the editors I knew. Then, when they needed a contract negotiated, they contacted me. Next came the realization that I was practically acting as their agent without calling myself one.

BWR: Your business is a boutique literary management. What defines a boutique agency?

MC: We call our agency a boutique literary management company because we do a lot more than just agent authors. We offer many services and expertise, and are very hands on with our client's projects from inception to sales. We are often involved in development way before the books are written, and continue to provide guidance and assistance to our authors after the books are contracted with publishers. We manage and foster careers. In my opinion, a boutique agency is a place where a small number of authors who are chosen carefully for quality and long lasting relationships are forged.

BWR: In today’s literary industry, agents appear more in the author managing business than how their careers operated a decade ago. How has this change affected your agency; and how has your literary agency changed with the publishing industry’s shift to embracing Indie publishing?

MC: Some would say that the publishing industry is an ever-changing entity, and yes, we do a lot more for clients than getting them publishing deals. Just like in every other business, the professional or the managers need to stay abreast of trends and developments and proactively acclimate to them accordingly. I would like to think we do this continuously at CLA, whether we are speaking to editors and learning about what they are acquiring, or learning about trends in everything from the subject matter being acquired to what is being shelved.

Likewise, the increase of independent authors and their successes are part of such changes. They are changes we have embraced and adopted into our way of managing projects. We strongly advocate for our authors to Hybrid Publish. Many of our clients today have traditionally, e-published, and self-published projects. The combination allows them to diversify by properly taking advantage of the benefits each form of publishing offers.

BWR: Where do you find new authors?

MC: Everywhere! I mean that. You never know where the next great author is coming from. We look at authors on social media. We find them in the submissions box. We meet them at conferences. And we get a lot of referrals.

BWR: Marketing is always a challenge for debut authors. What advice can you offer for getting the word out about their novels?

MC: First and foremost, I would say that it's never too early to start building a platform. Make contacts with authors, agents, publishers, promoters and readers as early as you can. You can share about your work before it is even ready.

When it is published, you should set up a blog tour, get a lot of reviewers and promoters to talk about your work, get your industry friends to share, do giveaways, signings, get professional reviews, enter contests etc. The best way to promote a book a few months after release is to start talking about the next book.

BWR: If you were stranded on a deserted island, which three books would you want with you; and why?

MC: First, even though I love fiction I'm also a big fan of nonfiction. So I'm pretty sure one of those choices would have to be a survival guide.

Second, I'd take the Count of Monte Cristo because I love the story. It inspires me, and it's long enough to keep me busy for a while.

My third choice would be tricky because I love romances. But those would make me long for company, so I might choose something like The Martian to keep things in perspective. If I can keep my cool and see the humor in things like Mark Watney does while stranded in Mars, then I might have a better chance of making it.

I realize how practical my answer is but in all honesty, I'm not one to reread books many times, so they'd have to be useful.

BWR: When growing up, who were some of your favorite authors?

MC: I didn't really have a favorite author until I was a teen. I loved reading Pierce Anthony. In college, I fell in love with Ann Rice, Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks and so many others. Then my loves became obsessions.

BWR: As a contest judge, can you tell us what might catch your eye for a children’s book for today’s market?

MC: I look for a strong voice, well-developed and unique characters, and high concepts. Books with life lessons are great, but they should never be didactic. Even though I love rhyming books, and I represent Tish Rabe whom other than Dr. Seuss probably does it best, many editors are not looking for rhymes today. If the book makes me laugh or cry, they'll have my attention. If I do both, they have an agent.

BWR: What is the best way for a children's author to get started writing professionally?

MC: The work speaks for itself. Get the book in front of an agent or editor.

BWR: Thank you for joining with us today, Marisa! Is there anything else you’d like to share with us here?

MC: It was a pleasure. Thank you for the honor of judging the contest. I look forward to reading the works.