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 platform, 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 and where we best can expend our energies. Sometimes we have get creative. Once my client's employer (a big media company) instituted a new policy that would have affected my client as well as other aspiring authors in the company. We went to the Union and suggested a letter writing campaign. It turns out journalists are good a writing letters and it became a big stink. I had to go the company and negotiated a way for it to save face. Eventually the company reversed its position. The point here is the author should never feel alone. Succeed or not, we're in it together.
What do you look for in an author?
I don’t have a 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.