From Editor To Agent: Two Sterling Lord Literistic Agents Share Their Journey

by Elizabeth Bewley and Sarah Landis

Why did you make the switch from editors to agents?

SL: I’ve always been someone who goes out and looks for projects. I was an editor for 15 years, and I’m excited to find great writers and to work with them over the course of their careers.

 

EB: Like Sarah, I was an editor for 15 years, and my favorite part of that job was the lasting relationships that I forged with authors. As an agent, I hope that I can be an integral part of an author’s career. I know that I can steer them towards rewarding and profitable opportunities.

 

How did you meet?

SL & EB: We met at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, where we were both editors. But, even before that, we had crossed paths over the years. Once we started working together at HMH, we realized that we shared favorite authors, books, and even a few friends in common. We’re always each other’s first reader when we are evaluating a promising new manuscript.

 

How do you work together?

SL & EB: We will have our own client lists, but we bounce ideas off of each other and closely collaborate. When an author signs with one of us, they can expect to have a team backing them every step of the way towards publication and beyond.

 

What kinds of projects are you looking for?

SL: Middle grade and YA across all genres. I tend to like books that are high-concept, and I don’t shy away from darker stories. I’d love to find the next Adam Gidwitz or Lisa Graff. Basically, middle grade with heart, humor, and magic. I’m on the look-out for great YA fantasy set in a world that I haven’t seen before and YA speculative fiction. And, I’m a sucker for anything set in the South, having grown up in Virginia.

 

EB: I’m looking for middle grade and YA, as well. I love contemporary, realistic stories, especially those that feature a really great romance or characters offering a unique perspective on growing up. Authors who craft stories and characters with emotional depth are on my wish list. I also enjoy narrative nonfiction and memoirs centered on young people.  

 

Why is working with an editor-turned-agent advantageous for authors?

SL: I hope that I bring a wealth of publishing knowledge. I know that I won’t be able to turn off my editor’s brain, so any author that I work with can expect to get editorial expertise and agenting expertise.  

 

EB: Working with a publisher for the first time—or even the 10th time!—can be confusing and overwhelming. Having been on the other side of the desk, I can walk my clients through each step of the publication process. And, I can hopefully be a useful ally for the editors that I work with, too. I know all of the hard work that goes into their job.

 

How did you choose to join Sterling Lord? What it’s like at the SLL office?

EB & SL: We wanted to join an established agency that had impressed us when we were both editors. Sterling Lord Literistic is one of the best agencies in the business, with a history of representing award-winning and bestselling children’s book authors. It’s a full-service agency that will give our authors an advantage. Our office, located downtown near Wall Street (the new hot spot for publishing!) is very collaborative, busy, and friendly. It’s exciting to be working with agents who represent so many of our favorite authors and to be surrounded by a library of bestselling SLL books.

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Elizabeth Bewley represents young adult and middle grade fiction and nonfiction. Before becoming an agent, Elizabeth held editorial positions at HarperCollins, Intervisual Books, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, where she was an Executive Editor. Elizabeth has worked with bestselling and award-winning authors including Jennifer E. Smith, Estelle Laure, Claire LaZebnik, Linda Williams Jackson, Ashley Herring Blake, Sophie Flack, Kass Morgan, Josh Sundquist, Alyson Noël, and Nic Sheff, amongst others. You can see her MSWL profile here.

Before joining Sterling Lord Literistic in 2017, Sarah Landis worked as an editor for fifteen years, holding roles at G.P. Putnam Son’s, Hyperion Books, HarperCollins Children’s Books, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers. Over the course of her career, Sarah has had the pleasure of editing many talented authors including the likes of: Jodi Lynn Anderson, Kasie West, Claudia Gray, Michael Buckley, Eileen Cook, Erin Summerill, and Megan Shepherd. Sarah graduated with a BA in English from the University of Virginia. You can see her MSWL profile here. 

1 comment to From Editor To Agent: Two Sterling Lord Literistic Agents Share Their Journey

  • Bryan Fagan

    This is a valuable combination. Having an editor/agent all rolled into one is a writer’s dream. We need both but most of the time they’re separate. I wish we saw more of this. It’s hard to find a good editor and a good agent. This would cut the work in half. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.