All the latest news, ideas, and opinions from Denver's Independent Literary Center: lighthousewriters.org
I first met Angie Hodapp at her Query Letter Bootcamp workshop at Lighthouse last spring. I learned that she works at Nelson Literary Agency—and that I knew far less about the publication side of novel writing than I ever could have dreamed. Notice the past tense, knew, because after taking her enlightening, hearty, and well-organized workshop, I know far more. I know the formula for a successful query letter, the importance of preparing your elevator pitch, where to find pub tips, the difference between genres from a publishing perspective, and where to submit my novel (when it’s finished) for publication. All from a four-week workshop. Every serious writer should know these things! Which is why we’re happy to bring back Angie Hodapp this September for two workshops: Query Letter Bootcamp, and Writing for the Web—Crafting Content that Sells. Learn more about Angie in the interview that follows.
What does your typical day look like at Nelson Literary Agency?
I love that I get to wear so many hats at NLA! Most days, I start by reading queries while I finish my coffee.
Then I’ll switch over to my left brain for a while. My job involves a lot of information and documentation trafficking. I shuttle deals, contracts, royalty statements, author payments, and rights reversions among our in-house team, our foreign and entertainment co-agents, our author-clients, their editors, and their publishers’ in-house teams… and anyone else involved in a particular book’s success. I also spend most of the spring and fall auditing royalty statements, which means combing through numbers to make sure our authors are paid everything they’re owed.
Then I might spend my afternoon reading more queries or doing some book design. With so many of our clients self-publishing backlist titles through NLA Digital, the other arm of Nelson Literary Agency, I get to design interiors for their print-on-demand editions—one of my favorite parts of my job because I get to be creative!
Is there one thing you wish all authors knew about the business side of publishing?
That publishing is a business. A tough business. Practicing professionalism in every area of your writing life, from how you word your query letter to how you interact with agents, editors, and other writers at conferences, will maximize your potential for success—second only writing a really good book, of course!
How important is online visibility (e.g. blog posts, social media) for emerging writers?
Social media can cut both ways. I think it’s becoming less important to industry folks that debut authors have, or are willing to build, a social-media presence.
First, there’s very little evidence that an author’s social-media efforts significantly affect bottom-line sales. Second, many an author has been sucked into a nasty online interaction over reviews, awards, etc. In an age when a single tweet or comment made by an author can blow up in seconds and negatively impact his or her career, industry pros have grown a bit more wary of making social-media participation a must.
That said, readers do love to connect with their favorite authors online. As long as authors really, truly enjoy maintaining a social-media presence, they should do so—though professionally and with discernment. If authors only sign up for Facebook or start a blog because they think they have to, then their online presence comes across as kind of… wilted and sad. Everyone else at the party can tell you don’t want to be there. Instead, your career might be better served if you spend your time and energy writing your next book.
What are you reading and loving right now?
I read everything, from indie-pubbed romance and hard science fiction to literary works and nonfiction. Right now, I’m reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr on my Kindle and listening to Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman on Audible. Other books I’ve enjoyed recently are Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, The Martian by Andy Weir, Bird Box by Josh Malerman, and Pines by Blake Crouch.
Is there anything writers should know about your upcoming workshops at Lighthouse?
First, I’m going to make you work hard, because hard work is the only way to break into this crazy, awesome, difficult, heartbreaking, breathtaking business of getting paid to put your words on paper. Second, we’re going to have a lot of fun, because I love to teach, and I love the writing biz more than cake. And that says a lot.
Angie Hodapp holds an MA in English and Communication Development from Colorado State University and is a graduate of the Denver Publishing Institute at the University of Denver. She has been a slush reader for Colorado Review, where she interned as a graduate student, and at Nelson Literary Agency, where she has worked for agent Kristin Nelson since 2011. She was a semifinalist in the 2012 Writers of the Future contest, and her short story “Seven Seconds” was published last year in the anthology Crossing Colfax.