Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Location: Traveling home from the International Christian Retailers Show, Denver, CO
Whew! What a full schedule we had at ICRS. This is one of the best parts of our job, playing matchmaker. We make matches in a number of ways. The most obvious is arranging the marriage between author and publisher. Here’s where we really get to play yentl. So much thought goes into each potential match. One of the reasons editors appreciate Books & Such agents is that we don’t parade every single author in front of them. We know what the publisher has produced in the past. We know what they like. We like to think we know what they may need in their line. After spending time studying their list and our list, we draw up a group of possibilities. If we’re good, the editor will ask to see almost all the projects. Agents take pride in the ability to find the perfect book for an editor and the perfect publishing house for an author. Our reputation with editors depends on how well we do this.
But that’s just one of the kinds of matches we make.
As an agency, we’re committed to connecting clients with other clients. Writing has long been a solitary pursuit, but we’re finding that writers can collaborate to help each other with ideas and marketing.
Late last year we decided to try an experiment. We connected six of our Books & Such novelists. Most did not know the others but all of them write upmarket fiction. The six of them started a blog, Novel Matters. It’s become the place for writers and readers to gather and talk about good books. An added benefit has been that these six writers have become friends. They all gathered in California to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in April and had more fun than any group of writers should be allowed to have. I love this kind of matchmaking.
Sometimes we match writers and projects. Many book ideas actually germinate inside the publishing houses. We often receive calls from editors asking us if we have a certain kind of writer to do a specific project. We create a brochure each year highlighting some of what we call our “resource writers.” We’re often able to keep our journalists, co-writers, ghostwriters and collaborators busy in this way.
We also like to play matchmaker between readers and books. You’ll notice here on our blog we have a “What We’re Reading” feature. Once in a while the book we’re reading is from a Books & Such client, but the majority of the time we’re trying to keep up with the bestsellers and the books that are getting the buzz. Why? As agents, we need to know what readers are reading. It’s important for us to stay connected with the literary zeitgeist. If you want to see an editor or an agent become animated, just ask him what he’s read lately. We’re in this business because we love books. And there’s nothing we love better than connecting readers and outstanding books.
I’ve been talking about the best parts of my job as an agent. How about you? What’s the best part of your job as a writer? How about as a reader?