Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Thanks to Adam Heine for bringing our attention to this take on the "Twittersphere."
Great stuff!!

"If we can't Twitter, we don't exist!!"
True or False?

The jury is still out on the ultimate value of Twitter, but you can be sure we'll continue to evolve on this blog. Hey, I'd better Twitter about that!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I just got this comment from Anonymous:

Hi Kae, Are you on Twitter? It's fun, informative and there are numerous agents, editors and publishers that tweet about the industry. It's also very addicting!

OK, here's the brutal truth. Yes, I have an account on Twitter. And, yes, I have Twitted, but here's the rub. I can't, for the life of me, figure out how this is going to help our business(es), our standing with authors and publishers, my bank account or my general well-being.

And it's not for lack of trying! I really, really want to be part of the Twitisphere. Peter Shankman says I must. Friends say I must. The industry Twits constantly. What's WRONG with me that I haven't found the key to life, love and happiness through Twitter? Jon and I both feel that this is a cute fad that takes up time, but will wither on the vine in good time. Are we wrong? Why?

So, dear readers, help me out! How will my regular Twits (Tweets) help me as a literary agent? How does Twitter help you?

Monday, March 23, 2009


Seth Godin is a guy you should get to know. A few days ago he posted an article every agent and author needs to read. He talks about--gulp--agents--all kinds of agents. Literary agents are right up there. Here's what Seth has to say:

"Literary agents are crucial when publishers believe that their choice of content is essential but have too many choices and too little time. But publishers don't trust every literary agent. They trust agents they believe in. Key point: anonymous agents are interchangeable and virtually worthless. Agents that don't do anything but help one side find the other side in a human approximation of Google aren't so helpful any more."

I couldn't agree more. Literary agents need authors who trust us and want to work with us. But unless we have solid relationships with the editors who will purchase our clients' work, we cannot succeed. This is the most difficult hurdle new literary agents face and one we've been working on since we opened our agency. As book publicists we knew and had contacts with many publishers--on the marketing/publicity side. Our challenge was (and is) to step across the hall and buddy up to the editors at those houses. The only way to do that successfully is to bring them books they want.

Here's another priceless nugget from Seth:

"...agents must...consider who they are selling to. Should talent agents only sell to Hollywood? Literary agents only to book publishers? ...When markets change, agents can lead the way, not follow along grudgingly."

I confess I've been thinking about this for some time. In these days of POD and instant books, there are many strategic marketing benefits available to savvy companies who want to put their brand on an appropriate book. After all, Starbucks picks bestsellers to sell in it's stores. What about taking this a step further? Would Honda consider publishing a book about the open road? If we take on a book about eyesight, should we approach Lens Crafters as a potential publisher?

Just a few thoughts spurred on by Godin. He's always one to kick one's brain into motion.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I had a friend years ago who was stuck in a miserable marriage. The guy was a real loser--an alcoholic, an abuser, a real dud. "I'd like to leave him," my friend told me.

"So leave him!" I replied, ever thoughtful and helpful."I can't leave him now," she'd sigh. "I have to sell the horses first."

At first her logic made some sense. The horses were housed on their common property. They were valuable. She wanted the money. But months went by, then years. She didn't sell the horses and she didn't divorce her husband and her life continued to be miserable. I lost touch with her.

But "selling the horses" has taken on new meaning for me and Jon. It's symbolic for making excuses.
  • "I can't finish reading the manuscript until I do the taxes!"
  • "I can't call that editor until I've done more research on her!"
  • "I can't write a new blog entry until I get to the emailed queries."

All this may be true, but often we're really using the "selling horses" excuse. Of course we need to prioritize. But when we find we're using the same old stumbling block over and over again to get out of doing important work, we have to examine our motives. That old stumbling block, like my friend's rationale about selling her horses, can morph into a big, fat, comfortable and convenient dodge that prevents us from doing what we need to do.

How about you? Does the "selling horses" dodge figure in to your writing and querying? Think about it. How many times do you put off polishing that chapter because you've got to write to your mom (or mow the lawn, or paint the living room, or clean the litter box, or....) You get the idea. Lists are great and so are priorities. Just don't let "selling the horses" get in the way of finding a publisher!

Monday, March 16, 2009


Our reader Rebekah posted the following message today regarding my comment about "the dreaded sword and dragon" books:

Why are "sword and dragon" fantasies dreaded? We all have our own personal tastes, but it does seem a little inappropriate to casually trash an entire subgenre as though its uselessness were widely-known fact. There are approximately 77 kajillion people "dreading" the release of George R. R. Martin's next sword-and-dragon fantasy right about now. What will it take for people to quit treating this kind of fiction like the redheaded stepchild of the publishing industry? Not only that, but people seem not even to worry about the political incorrectness of publicly making their feelings about heroic fantasy known. It's considered gauche and unprofessional to mock, say, bodice-ripper romances (equally rife with cliches and slush-pile-fodder) in a blog like this, so why is it that writers and readers of heroic/historical fantasy are still treated as second-class citizens unworthy of the most basic, polite "to each his own" treatment?

Rebekah's comment and questions are valid, so important that I thought others would want to see what all the fuss is about. Before I begin, let me say once again that just because I don't represent a certain genre, it does not mean, necessarily, that I don't like, even love and respect that genre. It simply means that I CAN'T SELL IT. As a matter of fact, the first book I took on as an agent was a sword and dragon fantasy. It was beautifully written and I fell in love with it. I thought it would be a cinch to sell. It wasn't. Nor were the other books I've tried in this venue. Other agents are successful selling sword and dragon fantasy books; I am not. Therefore I've moved on.

Just because I dread the arrival of yet another S&D query does NOT mean that query is unworthy. It simply means I don't represent this genre and I'll have to reject the query.

Politically incorrect? Perhaps, but certainly not my intention. ("Bodice-rippers" politically incorrect--damn, I love that term!)

On the bright side--Jon still considers S&Ds. Send your queries to He says that he's waiting for the best-written, unique take on this genre. When he finds it, you'll hear about it here. That being said, please don't send him "rehashes of the same old thing."

Monday, March 9, 2009


It's Monday morning and I'm knee-deep in email queries, but had to stop. I stopped because I had a real epiphany!

Contrary to doom-and-gloom statistics, writing, story-telling and imagination are alive and well!

One look at my in-box and Jon's stack of queries, partials and manuscripts and you know it's true. You guys are amazing--truly amazing. Today alone I've read queries for a nonfiction book on parenting, several women's fiction offerings, some science fiction (which I forwarded to Jon), many, many horror novels, historical romance and more. Yes, even the dreaded "sword and dragon" fantasies continue to fill up the in-box.

But, think about it--all of you out there writing your little hearts out. Getting rejected time and time again. Hopefully improving as you go and finding groups and mentors to help you. It's truly inspiring and gratifying to be in this business where hope springs eternal--for you and for us.

I just wanted to thank you--all of you for doing what you do. Publishing may be experiencing some real hits right now, but the writing life is alive and well. So pat yourself on the back and declare this day a day of celebration for those who write stories.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


We have not been abducted by aliens. We aren't vacationing in the Carribean. And we haven't retired.

We're just too busy and the blog has taken the hit. Jon continues to shuttle back and forth to Florida to tend to aging parents, leaving me to pick up the slack with our two businesses.

Random thoughts:
  • I await the contract for our three-book deal for a cozy mystery series. As soon as the paperwork is finalized, I'll go into more detail.
  • My trip to NYC last week was cancelled due to illness--not mine, someone else.
  • Queries continue to flood in. I've requested about 4 partials in the past week; Jon has asked for a few more.
  • For some reason the queries for "wizard and dragon" fantasies are on the rise. We're not interested, so don't send them to us.
  • It's still bloody COLD here--sunny, but cold.
  • I'm reading Beautiful Boy, a stunning memoir by a gifted journalist.
  • I'm also reading The Glass Castle, another memoir--unbelievable, but true, story.
  • I just added Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace to my stack of "must reads" after reading about the author in this week's New Yorker magazine.
  • The cats are so full of static that you risk "electrocution by petting" if you get near them.
  • Our bird feeders are full of pine siskins.

......and our desks are full of queries, partials and manuscripts. Hope the winter's treating all of you well!