Saturday, January 30, 2010

David Wilk on publishing, continued

This post concludes Conference Chair Kathryn Craft’s interview (click here for Part One) with publishing guru David Wilk, who owns and operates Creative Management Partners, a business providing authors a full suite of publishing services. Note: David's individual appointments for The Write Stuff conference are now full.

Kathryn: What kind of author is the most successful at self-publishing? Is self-publishing a viable option for fiction authors? What services do you provide to authors choosing to self-publish?

David: There are as many different types of self-publishing tools as authors using them so there is no single answer to this question. But one characteristic applies to all, I think, and that is commitment to the process of publishing, which not all authors can achieve. Self publishing is difficult to do successfully for any type of book. It's easier to sell nonfiction, but in the current publishing climate, fiction writers are going to need to self publish, or be willing to participate in the publishing process on a regular basis, as fiction is commercially challenged. Services I offer include advice and consultation on every aspect of the publishing process, guidance in which path to follow, how an author can operate as a business, and if appropriate, I can provide any or all of the actual publishing elements an author will need to be a publisher (developmental editing, copy editing, proofreading, book design, type and composition, distribution, sales and marketing, and business administration).

K: Your bio says you have "been involved with publishing hundreds of books, including a number of best sellers." Pick one or two of the bestsellers, tell us your role in its production, and tell us why you think it sold so well.

D: SECRETS OF THE CODE was a New York Times Bestseller for 16 weeks and in various editions has sold over a million copies worldwide. I was the publisher of the original hardcover edition of the book and later managed the marketing of the paperback. It was a very erudite and intelligent companion to Dan Brown's DaVinci Code. We did a full on best seller marketing program for the original edition, worked hard to get important support from the retailers, and of course it was a great book published at the right time, with sales minded editors and many brilliant contributors who all helped make the book a success (and though we were riding the coattails of the most successful novel of our time, ours was by far the best selling companion guide for all the reasons given here).

For more about David Wilk, check out these links to his ongoing projects: (book marketing and consulting), (video sharing for authors and books), (author and book industry interview podcast), (book browsing), (curating enthusiastic book reviews) and (republishing lost American classics). He writes about book industry matters regularly, and is the Director of Marketing for Good Business International (

Write Stuff registration is now open! Days to Early Bird Deadline for extra registration savings: 27!

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Inside Scoop on The Write Stuff: Part II

In our last post, GLVWG president Tori Bond interviewed Conference Chair Kathryn Craft about this year's Write Stuff conference. Read on for the rest of that interview, including comments from Co-Chair Tammy Burke. All three of these women are pictured at the end of this post—please come up to any one of them at the conference if you have any questions, or just to say hello!

Tori Bond: What advice do you have for first-time attendees?

Kathryn Craft: Plan ahead. Once you get on site time will seem to fly. You might want to print up simple business cards to cement introductions (some people write their project title or a brief synopsis on the back).

If you want to pitch a project, research the agents and editors who will be present to find out if they have published any similar projects—they'll be impressed that you went to this length—then choose the right one to pitch to. Practice your pitch at home (what else are dogs for?), because you have only 10 minutes to tell about the project, yourself, and any marketing ideas you might have.

Writing a 100-word flash piece to enter into our contest is a great exercise in concise writing, and it's fun! Spend some time with the conference schedule at our website and decide which sessions you'll attend. Then, use every spare conference moment you've freed up with this preparation to browse the giveaway table, talk to other writers and publishing professionals, and read the flash entries--because once you're at the conference, the "write stuff" will be there, everywhere you turn.

Tori: What are some of the most common comments received from past conferees?

Kathryn: How organized the event is, how stimulating, how friendly everyone was, how they can't wait to get back to their computers and start writing, and how the dishes didn't get cleared from the tables fast enough. (Just keeping it honest.)

Tori: What is your favorite part of the conference?

Kathryn: This may sound foolishly sentimental, but for those who know me, at least I am remaining true to character: my favorite moment is early the first day of the conference, at breakfast, when the GLVWG members start filtering into the room. I am well aware that since the last conference each of them has dealt with the rejection, frustration, idea-scrapping, and confidence restoration issues common to all writers, but today they are spit-shined and showing their best game face. They have come back to this conference better writers than they were the year before. In their faces I see the very definition of hope. They help me believe. And they make volunteering for this conference a meaningful and highly rewarding experience.

Tori Bond: As conference co-chair, you were responsible for inviting agents and editors to this year’s conference. What opportunities do the conferees have to interact with these professionals?

Tammy Burke: Agents and editors are people first and foremost and if you approach them as human beings, they are likely to talk with you. One of the agents/editors I talked to last year was in the lunch line. We talked about what genres her agency represents and why she decided to become an agent in the first place. A friend and I spoke with another over drinks at the end of the day about different techniques writers use to tell their stories such as ‘seeing internal movies’ but we also chatted about universal truths and quantum physics. A third talked with me and others about business plans and how writers need to promote their own work.

So I would say the opportunities that the conferees have are really what they make of them. Yes, you’ll have the opportunity to sign up for an appointment to pitch your idea with one of them but that doesn’t mean you can’t speak with the rest and find out more about the wonderful world of writing, business side and all.

Tori: What tips do you have for the conferees when talking with agents and editors about their publishing projects?

Tammy: Here are five tips. There are more tips about pitching at our conference website.

Tip one: Have a pitch developed that has a strong hook, in fact, have a 30-second pitch, a two-minute pitch, and then perhaps a five-minute pitch. You will have ten minutes when it comes to the appointment and who knows how long you’ll get to talk with an agent or editor in the lunch line, at Friday night’s reception or in the hallway between classes. Also, try to think of reasonable and logical questions that they could ask you and have an idea of how you’ll respond. Of course, no one has a crystal ball to anticipate everything but prepare as best as you can.

Tip two: Relax. Anticipation and excitement can help you express the passion you have in your work while you are presenting but you don’t want that nervous quaver in your voice. Breathe.

Tip three: Do not bring your whole manuscript for the appointment. You can bring your business cards and your pitch. You could bring your synopsis also, if you have it, but it’s generally a good idea to ask the agent or editor if he or she wants it before you hand it over.

Tip four: Dress comfortably but nice.

Tip five: Smile. And have fun with it.

Tori: What is your favorite part of The Write Stuff conference?

Tammy: This year’s Write Stuff conference will be the second one that I’ve attended but it will not be the last. I am utterly hooked. What is my favorite part of the conference? That’s like asking what part of the sky I like best. I suppose it would have to be the opportunity to talk with other writers, agents and editors; of being able to spend hours with people “who get it” instead of getting those blank stares from non-writing friends and family when I talk about my writing projects; of being with other people who share that same excitement and enjoyment for writing. It is so wonderful to talk to people who understand the concept of these adult invisible friends i.e. characters you’re currently writing about; who understand that pendulum between “this is great” to “this stinks” and it may be the same writing just a different day. I am looking forward to interacting and learning with everyone. The people, that’s my favorite part.


Besides her responsibilities as Conference Chair, Kathryn Craft is also a developmental editor at, and writes literary women's fiction and memoir.

Tammy Burke, Conference Co-Chair, is a GLVWG Member Representative and a freelance writer working on a young adult fantasy adventure series.

Tori Bond is the President of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group and writes humorous women’s fiction.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Inside Scoop on The Write Stuff: Part I

The 2010 Write Stuff Conference is coming up fast. Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group President Tori Bond caught up with Kathryn Craft, Conference Chair, and Tammy Burke, Conference Co-Chair, for some insider information about what’s new this year, tips about making the most of the conference, and some advice about networking with agents and editors at the conference.

Tori Bond: The Write Stuff conference usually runs Friday and Saturday but this year it starts on Thursday, March 25th and runs through Saturday the 27th. Can you tell us what’s happening on Thursday? What else is new this year?

Kathryn Craft: Expanded pre-conference activities this year required that we tack on Thursday as well. Our keynote, James N. Frey (HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD NOVEL) actually proposed it: we will offer a two-day workshop with James, "How to Plot Like the Pros," in which he will lead us through the collective plotting of a story in two 8 a.m.–5 p.m. sessions. We hear that former participants have loved it. Since the first conference activities on Friday begin at 6:30 p.m., conferees who choose to do so can participate in both without conflict. This will be a rare opportunity for East Coast writers to interact James, who lives in California, and has a reputation as one of the finest creative writing teachers in the country.

On Thursday night, we'll offer a special conference edition of The Writer's Cafe. This informal networking event will encourage conferees to get to know one another while talking about our favorite subject—writing. The 7:30-9:30 p.m. event is free, open to all conferees, and, if we're pitching work to agents or editors at the conference, we can practice our pitches on one another and gain feedback.

T: How many years has The Write Stuff conference been going on? Why do you feel it has been so successful for so many years?

K: This is the 17th year for GLVWG, which has held a conference in one form or another every year but one, I believe. There are so many reasons for its success—the opportunity to gain valuable face time with agents and editors, to learn more about the craft, to gain insight into the world of publishing, to keep up-to-date on new trends, to network, to refuel the muse—that maybe its very diversity of opportunity is the answer. There's something for everyone. We continue to find new ways to reach out to writers and meet their needs.

T: You’ve attended, and helped organize other writers conferences in the area. What do you feel makes The Write Stuff unique?

K: It's size—small enough for good interaction yet large enough to attract good speakers and agents—and the fact that rather than support a set agenda, we actually listen to the evolving needs of the writing community. A GLVWG member once told me that she had been coming to the conference for ten years and that it held nothing new for her (remember, Joan?). She may not realize it, but I took that comment on as a challenge. Yes, there are some topics we always see requested, like the agent panel or how to write a query letter. But in the years I've been involved with programming we've tried to find fresh approaches and new topics so that conferees both old and new will be stimulated. This is now my 10th Write Stuff conference and I have to admit, I'm going to have a devil of a time deciding which sessions to go to, which makes me glad conference recordings are available to our members!

T: I know that you strive to schedule workshops that have appeal for the widest range of writers. For example, can you talk about why a science fiction writer would be interested in attending the session, "How to Seduce Your Reader" given by romance writer Tracy MacNish?

K: GLVWG is made up of all kinds of writers and our presenters know that. Since we have three breakout rooms to play with, my approach has been to create a fiction track, a nonfiction track, and a business of publishing track so that specialists always have a session they might be drawn to. We do have genre writers heading the fiction sessions; you mentioned Tracy, who writes historical romance. Fiction writers who want to sell their books know that including a little sizzle goes a long way toward selling books. Tracy happens to have a specialty at this, and she can share techniques that can work in any kind of fiction. Our YA writer, Jordan Sonnenblick, creates great characters, so why not learn from the best? Bill Kent can break down the basics of writing action in a way someone who’s done it less may never have considered. When you go to a talk by someone who knows what they are talking about, someone who communicates effectively and with passion, you always take away something worthwhile. No matter the genre, good writing is good writing, and good storytelling is good storytelling.

T: What is your best tip for getting the most out of The Write Stuff conference?

K: The most obvious one is SIGN UP EARLY. You'll save yourself money through Early Bird discounts (discounts end Feb. 25), including Four Points Sheraton hotel rooms at an all-time low of $85/night, and you'll stand a good chance of getting your first choice for opportunities with limited enrollment.

Once you are on site at the conference, though, my advice is to play to your weaknesses. The conference is about opening yourself to new people and ideas and opportunities, after all. Many writers are introverts, so if talking to other writers scares you, use the conference to practice—again and again. Telling fellow writers about your project this year is great groundwork for pitching it to agents next year. If your specialty is creating an effective sense of time and place you might be drawn to Tracy's session on that topic—but maybe what you really need to hear is what a veteran like Molly Cochran has to say about actually finishing all those projects you've started. If you fear the way the internet is changing the publishing world yet still hope to succeed, make sure to attend David Wilk's session on the new rules and tools for writers. Stretch yourself in this way and you will see how quickly a little discomfort will translate into new inspiration.
Besides her responsibilities as Conference Chair, Kathryn Craft is also a developmental editor at, and writes literary women's fiction and memoir.  

Tori Bond is the President of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group and writes humorous women’s fiction.  
More from Tori's interview, including responses from Co-Chair Tammy Burke, in our next post.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

An interview with editor Juliet Grames

The registration links at the conference website go live tonight so that conferees can start marking their choices of limited availability opportunities and pop the registration forms in the mail as early as tomorrow, January 15. 

Those who want to sign up to pitch to agents and editors get only one appointment so we urge you to make an informed choice. To that end, this interview with editor Juliet Grames, who made valuable contributions to our roster at the 2008 conference, completes our seven-part blog series on the agents, editors, and publishers coming to The Write Stuff conference this year. In addition to listening to pitches and serving as a Page Cuts panelist, Juliet will participate with her author, Irene S. Levine, PhD, in a session moderated by Patti Giordani, “A Conversation with an Editor,” about what happens after a publishing deal is signed.

About Juliet Grames

Juliet Grames is an editor for The Overlook Press, a mid-sized independent publishing company in New York, where she has been happily editing and acquiring fiction and narrative nonfiction for the last three years. Out of the 15-20 titles she acquires and edits a year, she works on a very small number of fiction titles, most of them women's fiction with a strong multicultural bent, so she can devote special time and attention to them editorially. 

Among the titles she has acquired and edited at Overlook are the groundbreaking self-help title Best Friends Forever: Surviving A Breakup With Your Best Friend, by Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., Book Sense Pick The Secret Adventures Of Charlotte Bronte, by leading thriller author Laura Joh Rowland; the critically acclaimed Enlightenment, by translator Maureen Freely; Sophie Brody nominee Sima's Undergarments For Women, by Ilana Stanger-Ross; the feminist media critique The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization Of Young Girls And What We Can Do About It, by Dr. M. Gigi Durham, which was featured in such diverse venues as People magazine, Time, and Fox news; and When Autumn Leaves, by bestselling songwriter Amy S. Foster, which has just been released. 

She began her career in editorial at John Wiley & Sons after spending a year at the Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency. Before that, she worked as a bookseller at Borders for five years, in her college library for two years, and even in the public library of her tiny hometown. In her free time, she reads.

Juliet's interview with conference chair Kathryn Craft
Kathryn Craft: You say you are most interested in narrative nonfiction, and your examples bear out the fact that this is a pretty inclusive genre. How do you define it? And are you interested in memoir? I know a number of our conferees have interesting memoirs in the works.

Juliet Grames: Don’t get me wrong, I love working on fiction, too. But fiction comes to an editor nearly complete, usually only in need of a little polish. The reason I love working on nonfiction is because it’s a more collaborative process than fiction—I, the editor, get to have a piece of the action! An author generally submits a proposal for a book, and the publishing team gets to work with the author from the ground up on developing the ideal book for the marketplace. Often, narrative nonfiction offers good writers an opportunity fiction does not—the story comes to you ready-made, and your job is to execute it well and interestingly.

For me, almost any kind of nonfiction has potential. The most important component is that there be a need for it in the marketplace—that the content is interesting and that the book offers something new. I personally edit everything from pretty academic history to popular psychology to memoir. Memoirs are fun because they’re essentially nonfiction novels, great stories that are about real people, allowing the reader a real voyeuristic thrill. One memoir I published that I’m really excited about (it just came out in January) is called To Kill a Tiger—it is the story of the author’s childhood in Korea, and the extraordinary circumstances of five generations of her family. I’m hoping it will touch readers as strongly as it touched me. Besides those particular genres, I have also enjoyed working with authors on passion projects, as well. For example, I have published a narrative history of sunflowers, and one of my forthcoming books is about raising a dog in the city. Both things the authors who proposed them happened to be really passionate about.

K: In what ways does your past experience as a bookseller inform your work as an editor?

J: I think all editors should work in bookstores at some point—it gives you a great idea about what categories are being sold in retail stores, who buys what, which genres move the most copies, which covers customers react well too, what people are buzzing about. I simply can’t imagine not having that experience before starting in editorial! But I’ve seen it happen where really top-notch editors buy books that end up flopping because there’s no good category for them in bookstores. That’s a mistake a former bookseller would never make!

K: What is your favorite aspect of your job, and why?

J: I’m kind of a dork about editing. I love to edit. I love taking something that’s 80% perfect and making it 100% perfect. I love working with authors, exchanging ideas, and collaborating as a team to reach a goal. It’s just so satisfying. Creative people are also generally wonderful people to work with, and I feel really blessed to maintain friendships with authors long after books are published.

K: For aspiring authors who have not yet heard of it, what are the best reasons, in your estimation, that an author should consider publishing with Overlook Press?

J: Overlook’s mandate (well, one of them) is to publish books that have been “overlooked” by major trade publishers. The idea was that great books are often passed over because big houses are unable or unwilling to take risks on edgy, literary, or unusual projects, and that we would not let those overlooked masterpieces fall through the cracks. We support literature of quality, and although we do at this point have a number of commercial, money-making books on our list, we haven’t let our original goal go.

There are pros and cons to publishing with both big houses and small presses, and each author’s situation is unique. But for me, a small house represents a second family, as well as a place to shine. There is tons of personal attention you might not get at a big house. At small presses, employees wear many hats, and you can probably bet that everyone at a company is sinking their teeth deeply into each book. If you’re a person who thrives on that level of cooperation, you’d probably find the small press experience really fulfilling. 

Write Stuff registration links go live this evening, January 14, and registration opens with forms postmarked tomorrow. Register early for best choice of limited enrollment options. Days until the early bird deadline, when registration rates increase: 43

Monday, January 11, 2010

Meet literary agent Michelle Humphrey

A little more than what you’ll find in her bio at the Write Stuff conference website.

While the links below will give you a sense of literary agent Michelle Humphrey’s personality, much of what you’ll find on the web about Michelle is outdated, because last month Michelle moved from Sterling Lord Literistic to the Martha Kaplan Agency. Michelle told us she is interested in representing writers of young adult fiction (historical, contemporary, literary), middle-grade fiction, literary fiction, and narrative non-fiction (history, psychology, women's studies). Before Sterling Lord Literistic she was at Anderson Literary and, prior to agencies, she worked as an English teacher and freelance writer.

Literary agents are notoriously overworked—their submission response times tell all—but Michelle did take the time to answer a few questions for us.

While you state that you are looking for a range of genres, your list has grown to be predominantly young adult. Was this by happenstance, or design? 

Yes, my list is mostly YA. Hmm, I think it's part happenstance, part design. As an assistant at Anderson Literary, I read a lot of YA slush there — a lot of good slush too — and started to name YA as my primary interest in my online profiles.

In your opinion, what is the current state of the YA market, as compared to other genres?
I think YA books continue to sell, with a strong trend right now in paranormal and Gossip Girl types of books. Compared to other genres? Perhaps romance books are selling similarly — historical and paranormal romance especially.

What I'm looking for in YA: character-driven young adult fiction—mostly contemporary and historical. I'll consider paranormal—I do get several queries a week pitching supernatural stories, but I haven't found the right project yet. I'd love to work on a "futuristic dystopia" novel—something with very empathetic characters. I'd also be into a steam-punk novel, or some quirky new take on avatars. (That said: I'm not a sci-fi fan per se, but I like the occasional sci-fi element.) 

As for memoir, I like coming of age/humorous memoir. Something geared to a young female audience.

For more from Michelle, check out this October 2009 interview with Chuck Sambuchino and this February 2009 interview with client Denise Jaden.

What might it be like to work with Michelle? Here's one client's take, at a December 2009 blog by her client Caroline Starr Rose.

Write Stuff registration opens in 4 days! Members, watch your mail: the brochures and registration forms were mailed separately. You should have them both in another day or two. Or you can always download a registration form when the links go live on Thursday evening.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Meet agent Eddie Schneider

A little more than what you’ll find in his bio at the Write Stuff conference website.

 What follows is Eddie’s biographical essay, as found at the JABberwocky Literary Agency site. Used with permission.

Eddie Schneider is a recent arrival at JABberwocky, and is actively building his client list (see "What I'm Looking For," below).

Schneider is a graduate of the University of Iowa, where he counted Yiyun Li, G.C. Waldrep, and Alan Drew among his many writing mentors. He is also a graduate of New York University, and holds an M.S. in Publishing.

Prior to his joining JABberwocky Literary Agency, Schneider worked for Folio Literary Management, where he assisted on a wide variety of different projects, including those by best-selling authors Garth Stein, Will Lavender, Robert Hicks, and Phillip K. Dick Award winner Chris Moriarty.

He has also been, at various points in his life, a magazine editor, computer salesman, short-order cook, freelance graphic designer and archery instructor.

Eddie writes:

What I'm looking for in fiction
I am primarily looking for literary fiction, science fiction, and fantasy for adults, young adults, and middle-grade readers. I will also consider adventure, horror, parody/satire, and graphic novels, the last of these by author-illustrators only. Aspiring graphic novelists should include a standard query letter and one printed or photocopied page of artwork. (Mysteries are best directed to Joshua.)

More on what I like in my favorite genres follows.

Literary fiction: I'm looking for literary novels with both great writing and a strong narrative arc. Ideally, I'd like something that can both push boundaries and keep readers along for the ride. An example of a (non-client) novel I enjoyed that meets these criteria is Italo Calvino's If On A Winter's Night A Traveler.

Fantasy: I'm looking for literary fantasy with one foot in the real world and one foot in the fantastic. I go for character-driven novels with intricate, imaginative settings that are internally consistent and have verisimilitude. An example of a (non-client) novel I enjoyed that meets these criteria is Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

Other subgenres and special areas of fantasy that are of interest to me include: magical realism (e.g. Isabel Allende's The House Of The Spirits), steampunk, and urban fantasy. (High fantasy is best directed to Joshua.)

Science fiction: I'm looking for thoughtful science fiction with evocative writing, in which character and narrative have pride of place. An example of a (non-client) novel I enjoyed that meets these criteria is Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand Of Darkness.

Other subgenres and special areas of science fiction that are of interest to me include: dystopian novels, of which I am often fond (e.g. Octavia Butler's The Parable Of The Sower), some space opera, and novels involving near-future space exploration and first contact (e.g. Robert Charles Wilson's Spin). (Hard SF and military SF are best directed to Joshua.)

What I'm looking for in nonfiction
The nonfiction genres I'm primarily interested in are, very broadly, science, history, and narrative nonfiction, for adult trade.

More on what I like within these genres follows:

Science: I have wide-ranging interests here that include the physical, earth, life, medical, and social sciences. At present, I have a particular interest in neuroscience. Science books most likely to appeal to me tend to deal with specific topics, and sometimes unlikely ones. An example of a (non-client) book in this vein that I enjoyed is Daniel J. Levitin's This Is Your Brain On Music.

History: I am interested in histories that focus on a single subject, though they may deal with that subject's impact on its time or place. I particularly enjoy historical biographies, including those where the biography's subject is an artifact or commodity. An example of a (non-client) book in this vein that I enjoyed is Jack Weatherford's Genghis Khan And The Making Of The Modern World.

Narrative nonfiction: Here, I'm interested in memoirs that take on issues that extend beyond those in the author's own life (one non-client example I enjoyed being Rory Stewart's The Places In Between), travel narratives that are socially engaged and possess an individual stamp (one non-client example I enjoyed being Bill Bryson's A Walk In The Woods),  and in 'nonfiction novels' (one non-client example I was disturbed by being Dave Eggers' Zeitoun).

A maddeningly non-alphabetical list of favorite, mostly contemporary authors (who aren't clients):
Kurt Vonnegut, Ursula K. Le Guin, David Maine, Octavia Butler, Ray Bradbury, Miranda July, Susanna Clarke, Dave Eggers, Isabel Allende, Kazuo Ishiguro, Michael Chabon, Margaret Atwood, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jonah Lehrer, Junot Diaz, Olivia Judson, Mario Vargas Llosa, Neil Gaiman.

Favorite film: The Seven Samurai

Favorite video game based off of a licensed property: Knights of the Old Republic

Favorite video game with highly flawed gameplay: Arcanum

Favorite genre of music: Garage rock

Favorite breed of dog: Swedish Vallhund

Conference chair’s note: Anyone else curious about the way the name “JABberwocky” is represented? The first three letters are the initials of its founder, Joshua A. Bilmes. For a list of publication news and achievements, visit the agency’s home page.

Tomorrow: Info on our fifth and final agent!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Meet agent Jessica Papin

A little more than what you’ll find in her bio at the Write Stuff conference website.

What follows is Jessica’s biographical essay, as found at the site. Used with permission.

I am delighted to return to Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. Since beginning my career in publishing in 1995, I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work in three different (albeit related) capacities in the book industry: first as an acquiring editor at a major commercial house; most recently as an international rights director at an academic, not-for-profit literary press; and, of course, as a literary agent with DGLM. I find that it is this final role that I most enjoy, in part because I can employ the full breadth of my experience in the service of my clients.

From seven years spent as an editor, I am familiar with the inner workings of a house: the ed-board pitches, the p&ls, the presentations to sales and marketing—and can help authors navigate effectively through what sometimes seems an inscrutable process, to find and maintain a relationship with a publishing house. Just as importantly, I have retained a genuine love of editing. While the editorial process is not alchemical—it cannot spin straw into gold—I do believe it can refine and distill material into its most effective and enduring iteration.

Indeed, it was this “hands-on” aspect of working with writers that I missed while in Cairo, overseeing the international rights department of the American University in Cairo Press (though the consolations of living and working in the city known as the Oum el Dounia, the “Mother of the World,” were considerable). Moreover, through my work with the AUC Press—whose list I still represent—I have been privileged to work with some amazing individuals: the late Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz; international bestseller Alaa Al Aswany—whose book The Yacoubian Building has now sold in more than 23 editions throughout the world; and widow of the slain Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jehan Sadat. Somewhat paradoxically, by leaving New York—the capital of English language publishing/the blockbuster bestseller/hyperbolic sales pitch, and immersing myself in the broader community of global literature, and more specifically, literature in translation—I was able to appreciate anew the way in which books can, quite literally, change the world.

I am ever on the lookout for literary fiction, as well as smart commercial fiction. Favorite authors include: Margaret Atwood, Nadine Gordimer, Naguib Mahfouz, Ian McEwan, Jhumpa Lahiri, Orhan Pamuk, and Philip Pullman. I am an assiduous reader of narrative non-fiction, ranging from the personal to the reportorial. Perhaps not surprisingly, subjects that engage the history and culture of the Middle East are of particular interest. I would point to books like The Looming Tower, Guests of the Ayatollah, and Ghost Wars as outstanding examples. I am also on the lookout for authors who can tackle religion and spirituality in the vein of Reza Aslan’s No God But God or any of the works of Karen Armstrong. Superb research, fine writing, and a strong thesis compose my own holy trinity, whether for works of history or health/self-help.

Tomorrow: More on literary agent Eddie Schneider.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Write Stuff site has gone LIVE!

Happy New Year, everybody! I hope writing has taken a prominent place in your 2010 resolution list.

This is just a quick post to tell you that the 2010 Write Stuff conference website has gone LIVE !

Please take some time to click around the site and check out all we have in store for this special event featuring keynote speaker James N. Frey.

1. The registration links won't work yet. For those of you wanting to ensure your first choices for agent appointments and workshops by getting your form in the mail as soon as registration opens, these links will be connected by the evening of January 14 so you can achieve your goal of a January 15 postmark.  

2. Please note that you will have to fill out separate forms--and enclose separate checks--for the pre-conference workshop and the conference.  

3. Don't forget to continue visiting this blog for speaker interviews and conference tips!  

4. Questions? Contact chair Kathryn Craft at We hope to see you at the conference March 25-27!

Days till registration opens: 13!