Well, today is my birthday and I wanted to share one of my greatest gifts with y'all ... my agent, Janet Rosen! I asked Janet to share her insights for writers with "Writer to Writer." Read on ...
JD: How did you become an agent and who are some of your clients?
JR: I became an agent by accident, just tripped and fell into it. I had been working in magazines (Glamour and several others) for a while. Later, I was doing some other editorial freelancing (writing, reviewing, editing, consulting) and knew Sheree from Women's National Book Association, NYC chapter. (At one point, I was president of the NYC chapter.) Sheree was still in book packaging and slowly launching her literary agency. I started coming in just an afternoon or two a week to read and help out. One day I looked up and the frog was totally boiled-- I was an agent and I liked it!
Among my clients who are not Jill Dearman ...
The Atheist's Way
Rod Evans (THE ARTFUL NUANCE, EVERY GOOD BOY DESERVES FUDGE)
Albert J. Bernstein (AM I THE ONLY SANE ONE WORKING HERE, HOW TO DEAL WITH EMOTIONALLY EXPLOSIVE PEOPLE)
Nancy Ancowitz (SELF PROMOTION FOR INTROVERTS)
JD: What can writers do to present themselves and their work more professionally to the publishing community (agents, editors, etc.)? How can they "hold up their end"?
JR: In your (nonfiction) book proposal, really explain who your audience is and what makes your book distinctive and different from its competition.
JD: Do you see a lot of writers who submit their work too soon? What's your advice to them?
JR: There are two kinds of "too soon." The first I cannot fix-- if your writing is weak or your idea is trite it will always be too soon to submit it, regardless of your energy and confidence. The fixable kind of "too soon" is someone who has a decent idea and can write, and the book is not bad, yet it is missing something fresh and dynamic.Or missing a developed platform. For example, there are a lot of books about recovering from grief and merely competent proposals about that are something I might reject, but a wonderful new book by my client, Susan Berger, THE FIVE WAYS WE GRIEVE: FINDING YOUR PERSONAL PATH TO HEALING AFTER THE LOSS OF A LOVED ONE, offers a fresh perspective on a perennial subject.
JD: What do writers need to better understand about how the industry works?
JR: It is ever changing, and as we all know "platform" is increasingly more important for publication.
JD: I know you have a full bookshelf. What do YOU like to read in your "spare" time?
JR: Besides my own clients, I enjoy re-reading books from my youth (Louise Fitzhugh
Harriet the Spy , E.L. Konigsberg, Betty MacDonald). Also mysteries--I think Denise Mina is brilliant.
Thanks to Janet for sharing her expertise. Janet works for Sheree Bykofsky Associates. To contact her go to: http://bangthekeys.com where you can also pick up more writing tips! Hip hip hooray!