Agent Interview: Marietta Zacker

We’re excited to have gotten a chance to ask Marietta Zacker, a participating agent in this year’s #LatinxPitch, some questions regarding what she’s on the lookout for and what an agent typically needs to see in pitches to have them click that “like” button.

Thanks so much for your time Marietta!

Q: Tell us a little bit about what you’re looking for in your query inbox this year and how it might have changed from previous years.

A: I have a vision for an illustrator’s collective that highlights an array of untapped talent. I’ve always represented illustrators and author/illustrators, but the time feels right to find an expanded portfolio that truly shows a range of character work as wide and deep as the people represented in our world. I would love to work with an artist that is as dedicated as I am to showing our diverse world.

I will continue to look for stories and novels and images created for any age group (from the youngest reader to the young adult audience) that make me laugh, cry, or feel any sort of way, which, for me, typically means finding characters who stand out and are irreplaceable.

Q: What tips can you offer to writers or illustrators that might be planning to participate in the next #LatinxPitch event as they gear up for the event?

A: I would suggest that you not overthink it, and also, not rely solely on being ‘discovered’ in a pitch event. It’s a window that could certainly get blown open, but it’s not the only window or door in the house. And remember that, sometimes, the greatest of things happen when someone comes down the chimney, so stay awake if at all possible 😉

Q: What Tweets normally catch your attention during pitch events? What do you think makes a pitch stand out?

A: Much like the stories that attract my attention, I typically do a double-take on tweets that make me feel some kind of way. Tweets have, of course, limited space, but you can always ask writer friends, family members, or even the online community for feedback prior to the pitch event to see if you’re hitting a tone that matches your manuscript and that will make an agent feel!

Q: What’s something you’d like potential clients to know about your and/or your agency? 

A: I love our crew at GZLA. Everyone in our agency works collaboratively for the benefit of all of our clients. I believe in the power of storytelling, so I am hoping to add more clients who are willing to share stories that only they can tell.

Q: There are a lot of writers and illustrators, especially BIPOC writers and illustrators, who feel discouraged by querying right now . . . What advice do you have for staying positive?

A: I understand why people are discouraged – it’s all been harder. But the way I see it, the alternative – to stop our work and not give readers a way to escape or feel or expand their minds – is not an option. There are a number of publishing professionals who continue the work of those who came before us whose aim is to make the canon of children’s literature representative of our world in every way. We can only achieve that with creatives like you. We need your voice because readers need your voice. Don’t forget that!

About the Agent: Marietta Zacker has worked with books, authors and illustrators throughout her career – studying, creating, editing, marketing, teaching and selling. She supports independent bookselling, believes in libraries and takes pride in her work as a Latina in the world of publishing. She is always on the lookout for visual and narrative stories that reflect the world we live in, not the bubbles in which we put ourselves. She loves books that make readers feel and shies away from those that set out to teach the reader a lesson. Whether she is reading a young adult novel, a middle grade novel or a picture book, Marietta looks for a book in which young readers can identify with the actions and reactions of the characters, not the perspectives of the author or illustrator. Diversity in the story must be inherent and authentic, not trendy. She is thrilled to shine the spotlight on soulful, insightful, well-crafted, literary or commercial projects aimed at any age group from young adult to the youngest of readers.

She is currently open to queries.

You can find out more about Marietta on the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency website.

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