3 Questions that Usually Come Up
What is the primary advantage of an agency like yours?
Look, you don't do business with a company; you work with a person. Publishing is a people business. At every step, judgments and tastes influence the process. As my clients' agent, I try to be present at every stage of their book project. I’m not suggesting other agents aren't dedicated and passionate. Far from it. Every agent I know cares deeply about their authors and books. The ones in bigger shops just have the added pressure of supporting a bigger infrastructure, which means they must meet certain revenue targets and must allot their time accordingly. My model is scaled. I'm here to maximize the potential of fewer authors and in so doing, create more revenue for both of us. Because of their credentials or accomplishments, many of my authors can go to any agency, and I’m gratified they choose to work with me. Every time I get approached to join a big agency, I ask myself if it will free up more time to work with my authors, and the answer is always no.
How do you see your role as an agent?
I’m an advisor and advocate, first and foremost. My author’s best interest is my chief interest. When I don't tell clients what they want to hear, I try to explain why some things are done they way they are (publishing is a weird industry) and how we best can expend our energies, even if it means going guerilla like when my client's employer (a big media company) instituted a new policy that would have affected my client's book earnings. With the help of the union, my client and others in the company created a stink and the issue eventually went away. The point here is the author should never feel alone. Succeed or not, agents and authors are in it together.
What do you look for in an author?
I don’t have a certain kind of author in mind. Certain topics interest me. Accomplishments interest me. I look at whether this person has connected with an audience. I look for what makes this person stand out. Passion about a topic is critical. I want to learn. I want to make the world a better place. Every project is a puzzle to be solved. It’s rare when someone comes to me with the entire puzzle intact. Instead I look for someone with good pieces whether it be their voice, research, credentials, life experience, platform or whatever. I can’t manufacture the components but I can guide how they fit together to make a successful book project.