With the entrance of 2021, Books & Such is adding a gem of a new literary agent to our roster, Mary DeMuth. Mary has been a part of the Christian publishing industry for decades, having written 40 books, both fiction and nonfiction; mentored fellow writers at writers conferences around the country and internationally; served as a writing coach; and appeared as a speaker at numerous Christian conferences.
Mary became a client of Cynthia Ruchti’s in the fall of 2020. Almost immediately, Mary approached me about the possibility of becoming an agent. I’ve known Mary for at least a decade, having spent time with her at a variety of writers conferences. So my first thought when she asked was, Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that!? Since then, she and I have had numerous behind-the-scenes conversations in which we’ve explored what types of clients she’s looking for and how to integrate her into our Books & Such agent team. (She’s known most of us for a long time; so she feels like a natural.)
To help you become acquainted with her, I asked her a few get-to-know you questions.
Q: What inspired you to ask if you could join our Books & Such agent team?
A: I had always been an admirer of the integrity of Books & Such. I’d followed my dear friend Tricia Goyer all these years (she’s in my mastermind group and is a client of yours). I loved how well you shepherded her career.
The longer answer is this: when I learned I needed to find a new agent this fall, our family was hiking in Colorado. As we climbed our first fourteener, my husband asked, “Why don’t you consider becoming an agent?” His question ping-ponged around in my mind. I prayed about it, felt a huge aha come over me, and approached Cynthia about representing me. In our first conversation, I said, “I want you to know that I’m considering becoming an agent myself. What would Janet think of that?” That conversation opened up several more, and here I am. I blame the thin air of Mount Yale!
Q: What qualities do you want to be true of you as an agent?
A: Integrity is very important to me, as is passion. I want publishers, editors, and clients to know they can trust my word. Having a good editorial eye and strong theological discernment matter to me as well. That ties into passion because in order for me to represent someone, their projects must shine on the page and honor Christ.
Q: As someone with a strong publishing background, how do you think that career experience adds to your agent skill-set?
A: It gives me deep empathy. I have long believed that the publishing industry has served as my sanctification journey. While there are highs associated with having books in print, there are also pitfalls and heartaches. I have walked those valleys so I can journey alongside my clients who experience the same frustrations and fears. Besides that, I am a good cheerleader, too.
Q: What has motivated you to devote so much time and energy to train writers in how to be successfully published?
A: Honestly? It’s just how I’m wired. I suppose I’m a teacher at heart—I can’t just keep information to myself. Beneath all that is a longing to see the kingdom of God advance through the written word. I have never felt threatened by other writers; instead I see them as co-laborers in expanding God’s great purposes. The more the merrier!
Q: I know you’ve been giving considerable thought to what qualities you’re looking for in potential new clients. Could you give us a checklist of what is uppermost in your mind?
- Theological integrity and a heart for Jesus
- Strong, non-cliché writing
- Great work ethic to meet deadlines
- Vision for several books
Q: What kind of projects are of special interest to you and why?
A: I’m really interested in pastoral voices (that may not be well-known) covering issues of discipleship, church planting, and the global church. I would love to agent millennial voices who have been in the trenches of unseen ministry. A few more topics:
- Church burnout
- Christian living, but not cliché
- Habits, self-improvement, biz books, productivity hacks
- Creativity books (art, interior design, cookbooks, etc.)
- Compelling biographies about the global church
- Cultural analysis, Sociology (like Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, Cal Newport)
- Theological books that are accessible (a la NT Wright)
- True Crime
- Uniquely slanted Bible studies
- The Philip Yancy or Eugene Peterson for a new generation
Q: And, finally, what was your favorite book that you read in 2020? What did you love about it?
A: Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg. It was the most accessible and actionable habits book I’ve read. It’s helped me to keep at some of my goals last year, and those habits continue to follow me into 2021.
Thanks, Mary, for giving our blog readers a glimpse into who are you. I know they’re in for a treat as you share your writing and publishing wisdom with us through the blog.
If you would like to query Mary, you may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org using Mary’s name in the subject line.
Please feel free to welcome her and ask her any questions you have in the comments.
A new literary agent tells about herself and what type of clients and projects she’s looking to represent. Click to tweet.