Monday, July 21, 2008


Jon and I launched our literary agency about two years ago. "How's it going?" friends and colleagues ask.

We smile and tell them it's slow. We tell them that we've been learning as we go and that we've made lots of mistakes. Then, if they are not glazing over, we tell them that we're getting better all the time and that we're in this for the long term.

We've learned (ahem, I'VE learned) that:
  • I love too much too easily. Just because I love a book concept doesn't mean I can sell it. (On the other hand, I certainly can't sell something I don't love.) I'm vowing to think about publishing houses and editors first, then find the books I can get behind that will fit what the publishers are buying. It's simply putting the horse before the cart. If I can't envision a publisher's logo pasted squarely on the spine of a project I'm considering, I probably won't take it on. Within the past two years I've put the cart before the horse too often. I'm learning.
  • Good nonfiction is hard to find.
  • Most editors are overworked and sincere. They want to succeed. They want to find talented, hard-working authors. They want us to help them.

Jon has discovered that:

  • Almost everyone wants to write a book, but few have the tenacity and talent required.
  • Beginning authors think that a passion for writing will get them through. They are always surprised by the fact that this is a business. They must learn how the business works.
  • He must continue to read voraciously and widely in order to be a good judge of the things that come his way.
  • He can't read requested chapters and manuscripts fast enough and worries constantly that he's "sitting on" the next Great Gatsby and may lose it because he can't get to it in time.

We hope you're all having a wonderful summer.

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