Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bent on Bestsellers and Beyond

First, forgive my long absence from here and from twitter. I'm trying to organize my time better so I can do more blogging and more tweeting going forward. I'm writing today because I'm so pleased to congratulate TBA client John Kasich, who landed on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list this past Sunday in the self help/advice/how-to category with his book Every Other Monday: Twenty Years of Life, Lunch, Faith and Friendship. Hooray! I'm thrilled for him--I've worked with John for over ten years and this is his third book and highest placement yet on the list-#7. http://everyothermonday.net/ His last book received endorsements from the likes of Elie Wiesel, Bono, and George Stephanopoulos.

I realized when I sat down to write this that John is the fourth TBA client to hit the NYT list since I opened my doors a little over a year ago. Here's a run down (and allow me to toot the TBA horn for just a moment):

Another long time client, Jacqueline Sheehan appeared on the trade paperback fiction list with her literary novel, Now and Then. Her first novel, Lost and Found, was also a NYT bestseller.

I've also represented both Julia London and Lynsay Sands for many years. Each have had multiple titles on the NYT mass market bestseller list since March.

Julia London's Highland Scandal, Summer of Two Wishes, and Courtesan's Scandal all made the list.

Lynsay Sands has had five books and one anthology on the list: Devil of the Highlands, The Immortal Hunter, The Renegade Hunter, Bitten By Cupid, Taming the Highland Bride, and The Hellion and The Highlander.

I'm thrilled to pieces about all of this, particularly because I've worked with all of these writers for such a long time and their talent and their drive never cease to impress and delight me.

If you're a brand new author reading this however, I don't want you to be a. confused by how different these authors seem and b. discouraged by how established/high profile they are.

First, all of these books do, as my website says, combine great story-telling with emotion and inspiration. As a child I read everything and anything I could get my hands on--from cereal boxes to Proust--and I'm still not a snob when it comes to subject matter, genre, or style. A great story is a great story in my book. If you need more specific guidelines, they are on my site.

And secondly, I continue to be committed to finding new talent. While I've worked with all of these authors for multiple years and multiple book contracts, I don't want to suggest that my list is full up. In fact, I've submitted and sold two new, unpublished clients from "slush" since I opened my doors, both in six figure deals. I've also signed up an additional four unpublished authors whose works are in various stages of editing. Every agent I know agrees that one of the greatest parts of this job is discovering a wonderful new writer and selling his or her first book.

But what are the chances of being discovered, you ask? Well, back in April, my interns and I sat down and estimated that we had received 25,000 unsolicited queries in a little over a year. Six new authors out of 25,000 might not seem like great odds. BUT you should consider the fact that a large portion of the queries we receive are either completely unsuitable (i.e. in a genre I don't represent, like science fiction), don't follow query guidelines, or contain multiple spelling, punctuation, and grammatical mistakes. Which means that if you deliver a well-written, proof-read query which follows the query guidelines, your chances are better than you think. I've asked my fabulous intern, we'll call her INTERN X, to blog on this very topic. Look for it in the next week or two.

P.S. Just kidding about the Proust.

P.P.S. Just got next week's list and Every Other Monday is #5!


  1. I just sighed out loud. I really do <3 you...

  2. Congratulations, Jenny, to you and all the authors you represent!

    (and thank God about the Proust. I was feeling a little pedestrian there for a minute.)

  3. All those bestsellers are a huge accomplishment. You have every right to be proud. Congratulations to you and the talented authors behind the books.

  4. Congrats and thanks for giving we unpubbed dreamers a reason to be a bit more optimistic.

  5. Such a refreshing, encouraging post!

  6. Glad to see you surface again. Keep posting!

  7. Grats, Jenny!
    And I love that you read everything including the back of cereal packets. It just sounds eerily familiar lol. (Back of shampoo bottles, anyone?)
    My shelves are filled with all kinds of books, the Bible sits next to A Brief History of Time, which sits next to a Poe collection, and Terry Pratchett's Nanny Ogg's Cookbook.
    I pick up a random book every month, outside the normal genres I read, because often I'm pleasantly surprised -- and broaden my horizons at the same time.
    Lovely to see your authors hit the bestseller lists, it has to feel incredibly rewarding.
    And you're so right: It's the story that sells the book. And a good story is a good story, regardless of who wrote it, when, where, how or which genre.

  8. Thanks for your post. 25000 sounds like a huge number, but when you explain the submissions you see, it is not so daunting.

  9. Thanks for the hope. It's ALWAYS appreciated. And your work ethic is commendable. On behalf of first-timers everywhere, we're grateful.