On the Road Again

Rachelle Gardner

Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

Don’t you love it when you send someone an email, only to receive the dreaded auto-reply saying they’re out of the office? It can be frustrating, but the reality is that travel is an important part of many jobs. And when it’s your agent who is “out of the office,” you can be glad they’re getting out from behind their desk to go into the world and nurture important relationships, make new acquaintances, advocate for their clients and give back to the writing community.

At Books & Such, we frequently discuss our travel schedules and carefully consider each possible trip. We find we serve our clients best when keep a good balance between office time and important engagements elsewhere. I thought it might be helpful to share what we’re up to this spring, so you’ll have a better idea of what that “auto reply” really means. So here’s an overview:

airline travelWendy and Janet taught a major morning track at the Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference entitled “How Do I Get My Nonfiction Book Published—From Idea to Launch Party.” While at the conference, they participated in an agent panel, had individual appointments and heard pitches during meals, not to mention the all-important networking with editors from the publishing houses.

Wendy spent a day in Ventura at the offices of Regal/Gospel Light publishing. She also
went to San Francisco for a day to meet with a film production team, and traveled to two different locales to have meetings with clients.

Janet traveled to the Minnesota offices of Bethany House Publishers, where she met with the publisher, the vice president of editorial, and helped to brainstorm the storyline for a client’s next book. She participated in marketing meetings for her client as well as the marketing meeting for one of Wendy’s clients. These are the kinds of meetings where the agent’s perspective is a valuable and important advocate for the author.

Mary is traveling to visit two different clients in May, and will visit a publisher for meetings as well. She’s also representing Books & Such at the Speak Up Conference in Grand Rapids, where she’ll teach two breakout sessions and take meetings with conferees.

Rachel attended the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal last weekend. She went to dinner with a couple of editors while there, and met with many authors.

In June, Wendy, Janet, and Mary will be attending ICRS in Atlanta. This is the major annual convention of the Christian publishing industry — three important days of meetings with editors to present client projects and to find out what genres they’re seeking to acquire. They’ll support and cheer on our authors at the Christy Awards banquet and support clients involved in Christian Author Network (CAN) events.

As for me, I spent several days in Nashville on a “grand tour” of five major publishers—Abingdon, Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Howard/Simon & Schuster, Worthy Publishing and Faithwords/Hachette. I met with publishers, editors and marketing folks, discussing each of my clients who are already publishing there, and presenting new projects from other clients.

Last week I was on faculty of the PubSmart conference in Charleston, SC, where I met with New York editors, met many new authors, and networked with some pretty terrific publishing professionals. In the end of May, I’ll be attending BEA (Book Expo America), which is the largest and oldest annual publishing convention in the US. I’ll be meeting with editors and authors, in addition to participating in an agent panel.

Of course, as the summer progresses, we’ll have additional travel updates for you. I just wanted you to know that whenever we’re not in the office, we’re either taking a much-needed break, or we’re out somewhere building our relationships and advocating for our clients. I must admit—we’re probably having some fun too!

Do you have any questions about agents’ travel schedules or priorities?



The Books & Such agents are on the move. Here’s an overview. Click to Tweet.

At Books & Such, the agents don’t like to stay at their desks! What are they up to? Click to Tweet.

34 Responses

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  1. Reading this post reminds me of how much you ladies do on behalf of your clients. It’s encouraging to hear about the networking you do, and the meetings you have with editors and publishers to discover how to help your authors and to bring a great product to the publishers. I hope you’re getting a chance to catch your breath!

  2. Thanks for sharing this information, Rachelle. It’s fascinating, and makes me grateful I’m learning from such a dedicated group.

    How much time do you think you spend traveling versus being in the office? Are there seasons where more traveling is required?

    • Rachelle Gardner says:

      Cheryl, the travel schedules vary from person to person, and from season to season. I find that early fall and early spring are busiest in terms of travel. But we are not always in control of where we go and when!

  3. COLUMBA KNOX says:

    Howdy, Ma’aM,

    You are becoming world famous without being named, in the writing titled,

    You typed, “I spent several days in Nashville”;
    the world famous short story,
    takes place above Chattanooga and near the mountains of Smokie………

    Do you plan still running your own blog???

    Faithwords/Hachette — please say more about them???

    About the question you asked —
    How do you ladies deal with the airport stuff at these abominable times???

    Sincerely, Indeed,

    • Rachelle Gardner says:

      Thanks for asking about my blog – I’ve been taking a break from it but will resume shortly.

      Faithwords is the Christian imprint of Hachette Book Group, which is one of the Big Five international publishers.

      Airports? They keep life exciting!

  4. Rachelle, I’ve never minded “out of the office” emails … especially when I’m submitting a question or article to my editor (of the magazine I write for). I prefer that over spending days wondering if they ever received my email.

    Thank you for the daily blog posts and your committment. I appreciate and admire that you still get them out when you are out of town, etc. I learn something valuable from each one.

  5. Jim Lupis says:

    Rachelle, I’m tired from just reading about what everyone does. Please remember to take time to re-charge, especially in the Lord. Hopefully, I’ll bump into you at the BEA.

    • Rachelle Gardner says:

      Thanks for the reminder, Jim. In reality, we probably aren’t any busier than other professionals in every type of business. The world is pretty fast-paced for everyone these days, isn’t it?

  6. It’s awesome knowing you ladies are staying fresh in the mind of editors and others at publishing houses, as well as building your credentials in the industry through speaking on panels and teaching classes. That all trickles down to benefit your clients! 🙂

    • Rachelle Gardner says:

      Lindsay, that’s exactly why we do it – there is a direct benefit to our clients (and it helps us find more clients, as you well know!) Truth be told, it’s a lot of fun “staying fresh in the minds of editors.” 🙂

  7. Susan Roach says:


    I’m with Cheryl. I’ve learned so much from this blog because you are all so busy out and about doing great work. Thank you for taking the time here to pass on all the wisdom you’ve gained.

  8. Rachelle, all kidding aside, those of us whose interests you represent appreciate your hard work, even if it occasionally involves a bit of fun. (Just not too much…okay?) Thanks for all you do for writers everywhere.

  9. I used to have a very heavy travel schedule, and found that keeping myself effective required devoting a certain amount of time to exercise – whether it was a predawn run, time in the hotel gym, or even running up and down the fire stairs.

    Do you find that holds true for you? If so – how do you guys like to exercise?

    • Rachelle Gardner says:

      Great question, Andrew! I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to travel… I enjoy being a “tourist” and checking out my surroundings, no matter where I am. My favorite way to do this is to go on a morning jog, if the location and weather permit. I agree with you that exercise is crucial, when traveling as when at home. The biggest challenge is sometimes fitting those running shoes in the suitcase!

      • I hear you! Fitting the shoes in could be tough, especially when trying to avoid checking a bag.

        Speaking of being a nerd, another thing I did was to visit a bookstore with a good collection on local history, to buy a book as a memento – it would make each destination more of a ‘place’ for me.

  10. Jessica Swearingen says:

    Reading all that y’all do is interesting. My husband and I are learning fast though! I write poetry but I have not tried to be published. My husband M.L.Swearingen, first book will be coming out soon. Page Publishing will handle that one. He’s already working on the sequel. Are there any major book conferences in Texas? You ladies do a lot for your passion for books and your dedicated followers. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Jaime Wright says:

    I’m going to assume there’s some serious coffee drinking going on to support these hectic schedules! Thanks for being the unsung heroines of the great books that line my shelves. So wonderful to have you out there representing such AMAZING authors.

    • Rachelle Gardner says:

      Jamie, I’m a serious coffee drinker no matter WHERE I am. 🙂

      But I limit myself to two grandes a day… usually half-caff… and after that it’s water, water, water.

      And yes, we think we rep AMAZING authors!

  12. I’m amazed! I loved seeing Wendy and Janet at Mount Hermon, but how can any of you keep doing such good work without dying of exhaustion with all that you do?

  13. Rachelle, your schedule is both impressive and daunting. It serves to remind us why a writer is wise to have an agent representing them.

    Blessings on both your networking and jogs ~ Wendy ❀

  14. Carrie Padgett says:

    Fun peek into everyone’s travels. Thanks!

  15. Tessa Afshar says:

    Hi Rachelle. I’ll be at the BEA on Thursday and Friday – my first time. I’ll be there with Moody. Hope we run into each other!

  16. It was a pleasure to meet you at PubSmart, Rachelle. Thank you for valuable insights. 🙂

  17. Joe Snoe says:

    Welcome back.

    I’ve missed your columns.

  18. Cathy West says:

    Did you get to sightsee in Nashville? Sounds like an exciting place. I’ve never been but maybe one day…
    For now I’ll settle for watching the show… 🙂

  19. Jane Perdue says:

    Big thanks, Rachelle, for coming to PubSmart in Charleston. Everyone who sat at your table (including me!) last Friday morning was wowed by your expertise, professionalism, and kindness.

  20. In my List o’ Agent Questions for when I get The Call, one of my questions is, “What day of the week is your Day Off?”

    It’s my way of sussing whether or not they include themselves as a priority. A day off once a week goes a long way to preventing burn-out. Nobody likes a burned-out agent.