Nephele Tempest joined The Knight Agency in January, 2005, opening the Los Angeles office. She comes from a diverse publishing and finance background, having worked in the editorial department at Simon and Schuster, as a financial advisor, in the marketing and communications departments of several major New York investment firms, and as a freelance writer. Her experiences in sales, marketing, and writing provide her with insights into multiple aspects of the publishing industry.
Let’s get to know Nephele just a little bit better.
In the 20 years since its inception, The Knight Agency has proudly represented many romance authors, and romance continues to be a staple of many of our agents’ lists. When I first joined the agency in 2005, I began seeking clients writing in various genres, but my very first sale was a single title romance (Nalini Singh’s SLAVE TO SENSATION), resulting in a special place in my heart for the genre I already enjoyed to read.
Romance – and the publishing industry on the whole – has shifted and changed enormously since I became a literary agent. In those early days, chick lit and paranormal were all the rage, and big chain stores were chasing out the independents. Now New Adult and e-books have a percentage of the market, writers can self-pub with ease, and small bookstores are making a comeback. But romance continues to reign, its fans as voracious as ever, and its authors providing countless love stories to meet every interest.
While it’s easy to point to the industry’s growing pains and wonder what comes next, what’s less obvious sometimes are all of the advances that have come along with those sometimes-tense changes. With self-publication and the rise of social media, we see more voices than ever calling out for diversity in romance offerings, inclusiveness in both storylines and the authors who share their talent. Covers have become more representative of the characters between them – and when they aren’t, readers and writers are more vocal in calling out the issue.
No doubt publishing and romance specifically will continue to change and grow as new innovations in technology lead to cultural adaptation. But the constant in all the change is the love shared by readers and writers for the romance at the heart of these stories, and I look forward to many more incarnations of happily ever after.
Q & A
What led you to a career in agenting romance?
I came to agenting in a roundabout way, having worked as an editorial assistant right out of college, and then going on to work in sales, as a paralegal, in finance, and as a corporate/marketing communications writer before circling back and becoming an agent. As for why romance, it’s a genre I enjoy reading, and was also one The Knight Agency was known for when I joined up, so it seemed a logical genre to represent, as well.
Three of your favorite books?
I’m terrible at paring down my favorites lists, so I’m going to go with a bunch of all-time favorite romance authors instead: Nora Roberts, Catherine Coulter, Jayne Ann Krentz, Elizabeth Boyle, Sarah McLean, Susan Wiggs, and of course all of my own clients.
Top three favorite romantic movies?
Same difficulty with narrowing things down, but a few favorites include: Pride & Prejudice (BBC version), The Philadelphia Story, Out of Africa, The Cutting Edge, and When Harry Met Sally.
What’s hot in your world right now?
Right now I’m very much looking for romantic suspense and for women’s fiction, and I’d especially love a romance (any sub-genre) with a bad-boy hero – something I’m calling a character of dubious moral fiber. Think double agents, spies, highwaymen, pirates, corporate raiders, etc.
Tips for successful pitching (in 3 sentences or less)?
Be prepared, but don’t be afraid to read off note cards if you have to, because writing and public speaking are two different things. Come with a few questions, since you rarely have the opportunity to sit down face to face with an agent or editor and get their thoughts on the industry, etc.
Tips for successful query?
Remember to stick to important information and focus on what your project is about. Your book description should be brief and intriguing, like the back of a paperback book in the store – designed to reel the reader in. And don’t apologize for being unpublished; state any pub history you have that might be applicable, but if you don’t have any, don’t worry about it. Everyone was new once.
Weirdest pitch experience?
Unfortunately, the weirdest pitch experiences generally center on story ideas that are very offbeat and not practical – things where it’s clear that the author has tried too hard to come up with something different and the result is something a little on the crazy end of the spectrum that likely isn’t marketable.
Favorite thing about attending conferences?
I love getting a chance to chat with writers and hear what everyone is reading and loving.
I get frustrated with writers who expect an agent to justify their existence in this changing market. I’m always happy to explain what an agent can do for a writer in general and what I specifically bring to the table, but if a writer is not interested in representation or traditional publishing, my job is not to convince them otherwise. There’s plenty of room for everyone and all different approaches.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I don’t have guilty pleasures when it comes to books; I’m an equal opportunity reader. My addiction to pie, however, is another story.
Thank you Nephele for sharing your thoughts on the state of publishing and your addiction to pie.
Nephele belongs to the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). She continues to actively build her client list, and is currently seeking works in the following genres: literary/commercial fiction, women’s fiction, fantasy, science fiction, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, contemporary romance, historical fiction, young adult and middle grade fiction. For more information on the Knight Agency and Nephele, please click here.
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