Wednesday, January 15, 2020

IN THE ROGUE LIMELIGHT: LITERARY AGENT BARBARA POELLE GOES ROGUE!

Submitted by Jamie Freveletti

Finished your manuscript and wondering how to take it forward to the next step? I'm happy to announce that my outstanding agent, Barbara Poelle, has written a book that will answer all of your questions about the publishing industry and beyond. The author of the wildly successful Writer's Digest article of the same name, FUNNY YOU SHOULD ASK is an insider's view to the industry. This book contains information every author should have, and that includes published authors, because we, too, are subject to the submission process-just to a publishing house instead of to an agent. 

We're so glad to have her here at Rogue Women Writers! Barbara started her career in 2007, but before that was a stand up comic Los Angeles. She's funny, fresh, and knows her business.  So we hit her with some of questions, both about agenting, writing and life.  

 
Rogues: What was harder: writing this book or doing stand up comedy in LA?

Ha! Well first of all, I think every person should have to do two things in life: wait tables and do 3 minutes of stand up. There is something so uniquely humbling and yet empowering about both of those careers- they both helped to form the foundation in how I approach agenting and quite frankly, life.

Rogues: When you were ten years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An ichthyologist.

Rogues: What made you decide to become an agent?
Well, I was stepping back from acting, just wasn’t feeling the buzz I used to, and I was brushing my teeth, telling my newly wedded husband how I didn’t feel like I had a particular direction and he said, “You should be a literary agent.” And I said, “What? Why?” And he said, “What are your two favorite things?” And I said, “Reading and telling people what to do.”
And the rest is history.

Rogues:  Describe your very first car. 
It was a silver mustang…which was gifted to me on my 16th birthday and then… 4 days later I totaled it in an accident that was my fault. No one got hurt, but I was terrified to drive ever again. I basically refused to get in a car unless I had to. A few days later my dad came home with a shitty little Plymouth Horizon hatchback he paid 2oo bucks cash for and said, “Get behind the wheel and go around the block. Now.”
I shook the whole way, prob never topped 10mph, but I did it. Because of that lesson I have always viewed mistakes as such important fulcrums from which to learn and pivot-  and to always, no matter the fear, get back behind the wheel.

Rogues:  What's your favorite drink? 
I know I am supposed to say something pithy like, “Yes.” Or “Anything distilled.” But really my favorite drink is whatever one I am having across from someone I adore.  

Rogues:  Do you have a literary hero? A teacher, mentor, family member, author?
I probably quote Mary Oliver at least once a week. Whenever I feel a little untethered, I open one of her books and read one of her poems and it somehow seems to be EXACTLY what I needed in that moment.

Rogues:  You’ve been on the agent side of the business, but not as a writer. How was it moving to the other side of the desk, so to speak? Did anything surprise you when seen from a writers’ perspective?

I laughed a lot anytime I realized I was echoing some of my authors’ peccadilloes. But the biggest ahhhh for me was that there was a doubling down on the awe and appreciation I have for what my authors do, ass in chair, every day. My authors are true word warriors. I am so happy to be in this role: to have the machete, the lantern and the pith helmet (at a rakish angle, obvi) clearing the way for their attack. 


Rogues:  Where do you like to write?

As a full time working mom I didn’t have a lot of choice on where to write- it was before and after kids and work were done for the day. But one Saturday, I snuck away to The Uptown Garrison in Washington Heights and wrote for about 5 hours and it. Was. Bliss. Now I bribe my children with Garrison baked goods and read submissions there on Saturday or Sunday mornings. 
Rogues:  If you could have lived in a different time period, what would it be?
I would not. I feel like women have come so far and yet still have so much still to claw towards, I couldn’t bear to even go back a year.

Rogues:  What's your favorite word?
Yes.

Rogues: Will you be doing events for the book? 
A little here and there, but this book is mostly an extension of what I do for my authors in a way to demystify the publishing industry and create a conduit and a comfort for those pursuing their art. I see this to be a tool for others, not a career path for myself. 

Rogues:  Thank you for taking the time to join us here! 

 


6 comments:

  1. Love the story about the car and conquering fear. Your dad sounds wise, and glad you took on the challenge. Brave!

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  2. What wonderful insights, Barbara. Your book sounds fabulous!

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  3. Love this "interview" - and knowing that there is an agent out there with a terrific sense of humor.

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  4. Boy, I wish there were books like this when I first started looking for an agent! I know it'll be of great use for other writers!!! Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I don’t want to either wait tables OR do stand up!!! They both sound extraordinarily difficult to me! I’ll sit in my corner and write!
    Thanks for the insights...they are so valuable!

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  6. Can't wait to read the book and GIFT it to many of my friends who are trying to figure out their way in this industry. Thank you.

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