Slogging my way through queries over the weekend. Since I twittered (tweeted?) about the overwhelming quantity, most people are suggesting I get some help with them, which is not a bad idea, but problematic because I am such a total control freak. If you've been reading this you know that I am an optimist, and so the query-filled in-box, as much work as it represents, also always feels full of possibility. Over the years, I have found such great projects in what used to be known as slush, and even with a very full client list I find I can't take the plunge and ask people not to send. Here, off the top of my head, are a few published titles--jewels, all of them--which were sent to me unsolicited. The fun in selling them was heightened by the fact that discovering them felt like a true mitzvah. So as not to play favorites, I'm only listing ones from earlier in my career and a few whose publication is upcoming, but there are many, many more.
HER INFINITE VARIETY by Pamela Rafael Berkman
SONGS OF THE GORILLA NATION by Dawn Prince Hughes
TRUTH by Jacqueline Sheehan
DIARY OF A VIAGRA FIEND by Jayson Gallaway
YOU ARE A DOG by Terry Bain
CARTER FINALLY GETS IT by Brent Crawford (upcoming from Hyperion)
ONE SCREAM AWAY by Kate Brady (upcoming from Grand Central)
And I'm in the midst of making a deal right now for someone else who e-mailed me cold. I'll report this later because it's been such a fun and exciting journey with her.
Most of the projects I've listed above are memoir and fiction. The nonfiction I do for the most part is how-to/lifestyle/humor by people who have good platforms and those are mostly from referral or that I read about/hear about somewhere and go after. But it's very good business to find memoir and fiction from new writers because building a list as an agent (just to let you in on my personal business plan) is about selling enough fiction to build a good backlist. You want to sell the frontlist splashy nonfiction but many of those books are one-offs. To maintain a list, you also want to find those writers of fiction and memoir who will write book after book and make good royalties on them over time. So my goal every year, for what it's worth, is to sign 3-5 first novels a year and these mostly come from the slush pile.
Please comment and let me know your slush pile success story. For the purposes of this post, I'm only listing first time authors who came in over the transom without referrals, but I love all my authors unreservedly, of course.