The whole team is thrilled to welcome Trevor Ketner to the Ladderbird family. Trevor has an extensive background in publishing and has a deep commitment to our mission!
So, without further ado, I present Trevor Ketner:
What made you decide to join the Ladderbird team?
After quite a few years in different publishing roles I realized just how tailored my experience is to being a literary agent. So I’ve been on the lookout for a position with an agency for a long time. When I read about Ladderbird’s commitment to uplifting, supporting, and fighting for a more inclusive literature I knew I had to become part of the team Beth is building.
Tell us a little about your background.
Originally from New Mexico, my first solid food almost certainly was green chile chicken enchiladas. After going to high school in a small mountain town in southern New Mexico, I returned to my hometown of Albuquerque to attend the University of New Mexico. As I worked my way toward an English and Philosophy degree, I discovered just how much I loved writing—poetry especially. I worked on the long-respected Blue Mesa Review and, upon graduation was accepted as a poet into the MFA program at the University of Minnesota. My three years in Minneapolis and the amazing literary scene there were wonderful. I was lucky enough to intern and work full-time at Graywolf Press in marketing and editorial capacities. I was also teaching and editing poetry for Slice Magazine. While in Minneapolis I met my husband and when we had both graduated we moved to New York where he had been accepted into an amazing museum and library science program. I was taken on as a publishing intern at Catapult where I got my first real taste of New York literary life. Now I’ve been in New York for three years which means I have my favorite gay dives, bookstores, and a bodega guy near my office who reserves a bagel for me every day. I currently live in Washington Heights with my husband, our roommate, and our roommate’s cat, Cat. I have three poetry chapbooks out in the world, the most recent about Robert Rauschenberg. And I’m the publisher and founder of the micro, poetry press Skull + Wind Press.
What makes you excited about taking on a new author? What kind of stories and writers really capture your attention?
I am always excited by the work of fellow LGBTQ writers. As we as a community begin to fight harder and more openly for affirmation and our own happiness, we’ve seen a huge, diverse groundswell of amazing writing from queer people. As a nonbinary person who uses they/them pronouns, I am always interested in work about gender, but especially when a writer is looking very squarely and transparently at the intersection of gender and something else whether it’s race, culture, economic concerns, whatever resonates most with them and how they think about their identity. Part of the work of being in such a lush queer lit scene is making sure you’re writing something new or a new approach to something familiar. That’s how you stand out.
I also love fighting for people I believe are doing important work of any kind, queer-focused or not. There’s something so impossibly invigorating about getting behind someone else’s work. I’m a Taurus, so my ability to believe in other people is, I think, one of my great personal strengths.
Talk about your editorial process.
I can be a heavy editor (though I promise I edit with love). Additionally, all of my edits (aside from copy edits and fact checking) are merely suggestions—the book will always be the writer’s book, not mine. My job as an editor is to fall in love with a project, to find the core of that project, evaluate that potential, and shape the project to realize that potential as much as possible. My job as an agent is then to find the best home for the work—a home whose values and resources line up with the values and goals of my author and their project. It certainly sounds simple and in some ways it is. But it’s also a massive amount of work (with a lot of using track changes in Word).
What are your top three all time favorite books? Or what are three books that have moved you?
I could never name favorites, but here are three books that were crucial in my development as a person and my understanding of worlds within and outside my own experience:
Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson
Crush by Richard Siken
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
What do you like to do when you’re not agenting, reading and editing?
There are other things?
I love to cook which is weird for someone living in New York. My favorite way to unwind is to come home after a long day, put on some sweats and a podcast (Reply All is always a good choice) and set to learning some new dish. Have lately been trying to perfect my carbonara recipe which, like writing and agenting, seems so simple but takes a great deal of expertise to get just right.
Is there anything else writers should know before they query you?
I prefer the use of the honorific Mx. By no means will a query that has the incorrect honorific be immediately rejected (I’m not like that). However, if you use Mx. it shows me you did your research and actually thought about how we would be a good team, which means you will likely get more of my time and a greater benefit of the doubt. Also it’s respectful and makes me feel nice.
Thanks so much for letting us get to know you! Writers, remember, Trevor accepts queries through Query Manager at queryme.online/TrevorKetner
Ladderbird Literary Agency
Come visit us often for tips on writing, querying and the ups and downs of the publishing process.