SLICE + VICE: LITERARY AGENT NOAH BALLARD
August 19, 2019
by Marae Hart
Inspired by the “seven deadly sins,” SLICE + VICE is an exposition of the underbelly of craft. With vice in mind, SLICE asks writers and industry professionals seven short answer questions to illuminate the darker side of creativity and the publishing process.
For the latest SLICE + VICE, we chatted with Curtis Brown literary agent Noah Ballard, who you can catch at the upcoming Slice Literary Writers’ Conference.
Pride: What do you want your reputation to be as an agent?
Someone who returns e-mails, calls, texts quickly and efficiently. Someone who solves problems and finds unique opportunities for my clients’ work. Someone who is intensely loyal.
Envy: What makes you most jealous?
Photos on social media of writers, publishers and creative types all having dinner together. Where’s my invite?
Wrath: What do you dislike most about agenting?
Having to parse and ultimately reframe rejection. Ninety percent of the rejections I receive from editors on behalf of my clients are dressed up versions of “I didn’t like this.” But what is simply sensibility and what is editorial flaw? What is constructive and what is simply heartbreak?
Sloth: What is your favorite way to be lazy?
Sometimes I go home at the end of the day with every intention of reading and end up napping adjacent to a movie I’ve already seen or staring at the Yankees game. I am delinquent on many manuscripts.
Greed: How are you greedy?
I am greedy with my time, especially time spent thinking in silence. I am in constant battle with the New York Sports Club that occupies the floor below my office over the volume of their music. I consider them thieves of my time.
Gluttony: What do you read or research for selfish desire?
I spend a lot of time researching the production details of movies I like, watching making-of documentaries, listening to podcasts interviewing obscure directors, trolling the depths of IMDb. I am often more interested in the mythology behind the making of art than the art itself.
Lust: What about reading is sexiest?
There is something voyeuristic and exciting about the act of reading memoir. As Isabel Allende once wrote, “A memoir is an invitation into another person’s privacy.”
Noah Ballard is an agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd. He studied creative writing at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and began his career in publishing at Emma Sweeney Agency. Noah focuses on literary fiction, short story collections and narrative non-fiction, including memoir, journalism and pop culture. Noah has appeared at graduate writing programs and writers conferences across the country speaking about query letters, building non-fiction platforms and submission etiquette. A New Jersey native, Noah currently lives in Brooklyn.