Monday, December 28, 2009


How can we express our appreciation for your queries? It’s such an odd relationship we have involving hope, bravery, rejection and once in a while, a glimmer of something extraordinary—for all of us.

Most often, as we all know too well, our relationship ends before it can begin and we want you to know that we grieve for every “no thank you” we send. We are always amazed by your courage, your ideas, your talent and sometimes, your madness.

Sometimes we feel like psychiatrists when the query is a raw and bleeding cry for help—an attempt to work out childhood abuse, rotten luck in love, or appalling loneliness. At these times our inadequacy is so obvious and we wish we could reach out and help. But that’s not our job.

Our job is to try to find the needle in the haystack, the idea, the skill, the talent that may have what it takes to overpower a publisher’s cynical editorial board. It’s a daunting task, but one worth pursuing. Without all of you we would be nowhere and we want you to know that.

As always, we encourage you to keep trying. If we say no, another agent might jump at your idea. If we reject your book, it may find life elsewhere. Perhaps you need to rethink your premise, to rewrite your pitch and try again. Just know that we and many other agents support your efforts and really want it to work. We know how hard you struggle and we appreciate the work you do—even when we reject it so coolly.

The face of publishing is crumbling under our feet and turning into something different. We are all hanging on for our lives, trying to figure out what our roles will be in 2010. But one thing is certain. People want to read stories and good writing will never go out of style.

Happy New Year! Jon and Kae

Sunday, December 27, 2009


I am working on queries that were sent to me in October. I have not gotten to November, let alone December queries and my stacks of partials to be read make me queazy. Why?

It's Myrtle's fault.

Myrtle is Jon's 95-year-0ld mother who, until a few weeks ago, lived in suburban Chicago. Now she lives 8 miles away from us. It took lots of time and effort to get her here.

Instead of reading queries I flew to Chicago with Jon's sister to fetch Myrtle and bring her to PA.

Instead of responding to my piles of partials I spent days shopping for furniture and household goods to set up Myrtle's new apartment.

Instead of writing blog entries I spent a day setting up the new apartment while Jon worked in Chicago to close the old one.

Myrtle is sharp as a tack, but she is 95 years old and she cannot walk very well. Her hands are arthritic and she has trouble manipulating things. We are so relieved to have her close by at last. It's wonderful to be self-employed at times like these. It's truly liberating to take the time one needs to get family affairs in order.

But it does not happen without a cost. The cost is to our business and to you, our clients and our would-be clients. We will take the next quiet week to begin the long process of getting caught up. Meanwhile, let me apologize for being so slow in responding to everyone.

My New Year's resolution is to get back to work, to take on new clients and to sell some books!