Agent Lana Popovic shamelessly admits it: her love for her clients can border on the creepy.
“I basically have fangirl crushes on every single one of my authors, such that I regularly suppress the urge to get tattoos of their faces because that would be gross and creepy – only because most face tattoos are gross and creepy, of course! My authors are very beautiful people.”
There is no denying that, in her career at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary, Popovic has lined up some of the most promising writers in the YA market. From edgy contemporaries to fantasy, science fiction and thrillers, Popovic’s enthusiasm for championing YA stretches across the board.
“YA can be the best sort of distillation of powerful writing, both in terms of clarity of prose and emotional resonance. At its best – and unlike a lot of adult fiction – it can be gorgeous and fulfilling without being overly self-conscious.”
Like her reading tastes, her clients run a gamut of genres. Debut author Leah Thomas will be introducing her YA fantasy adventure Because You’ll Never Meet Me from Bloomsbury in 2015; Popovic described it as “quirky and wildly original”. Another upcoming client release will appear from Spencer Hill Contemporary from Michelle Smith, a contemporary called Fielder’s Choice. One of Popovic’s newest clients, Dahlia Adler, will also be debuting through Spencer Hill Contemporary with Behind the Scenes.
“Sometimes I’m not sure that agenting is a real profession and not a figment of my imagination. That’s how much I love it. Collaborating with and nurturing highly talented people on a daily basis? Sign me up times infinity,” said Popovic.
When asked about other interests besides her career, Popovic once again demonstrated her love for quirky humor.
“Well, I enjoy walking home from work, while blasting such tunes as Sarah McLachlan’s ‘Possession’, and wishing I knew parkour, so I could be like a creature of the night. But then I get carried away singing, and then my coat sash brushes my hand and I become insanely terrified because I think something touched me. So I suppose my interests are having megalomaniac aspirations and freaking myself out!”
Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary often is misconstrued as to being entirely closed to unsolicited queries. However, Popovic has disproved these assumptions.
“I am open to submissions, I swear! The agency is simply closed to unsolicited manuscripts. All of us accept queries through the contact form on our website.”
Popovic welcomes more submissions in the YA genre. She is particularly interested in works that pertain to her #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) on Twitter, which is a social media she recommends as “amazing” for querying writers – though she does have some advice for aspiring authors.
“I would highly recommend that querying authors should get as many beta readers as possible for their queries. They should also adhere to conventional formats, like using all caps for their titles and providing comp titles for their books. The appearance of professionalism makes a huge difference.”