Saturday, April 30, 2011


You do not need to live in New York to be a TBA intern. All the internships are remote.

My bad for not saying that before.

Friday, April 29, 2011

ANOTHER internship available

We are now looking for two or even three interns, people who like to read books by authors like:
Tana French
Eleanor Brown
Jacqueline Sheehan
Jodi Picoult
Gillian Flynn
Lori Roy
Laurie Notaro
Celia Rivenbark
Elin Hilderbrand
Kristin Hannah
Jeannette Walls
Kate Atkinson

This is an eclectic list, so obviously you don't need to like everyone on it! But basically, you should like at least one of the following genres: humor, memoir, upmarket women's fiction and literary suspense

I should say, because I forgot to say it in regard to the other internship posting, that you do not need to have any kind of publishing experience or even publishing aspirations. We are just looking for people who love books and love to read.

Please send e-mail to Please put "internshiptwo" in the subject line. Tell us why you want the internship, attach a resume if you have one although it's not essential, and list the last ten books you read and your ten favorite books.

Please do not apply if you are primarily a young adult/middle grade reader. It's fine if you do some of that, but we already have our young adult/middle grade specialists in place.

If you have applied in the past you are more than welcome to apply again.

And don't forget to apply for the romance internship! We are looking for obsessive romance readers. Also send to

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Regrets? I've had a few.

I did an #askagent session on Twitter the other day and someone asked the agents participating if we ever regretted passing on a project.

I think I said that the short answer was "sort of," and that it was complicated and I should probably blog about it, so here I am.

This is a tough one. I can't speak for other agents but I know personally that this is a hard question to answer honestly. Put it this way: intellectually speaking, do I ever regret passing on a book? No. I do not. Rationally, I know that if I didn't see the book's potential then I wouldn't have been a good advocate for it. Or if it wasn't a good fit for my list then I wouldn't have known how to sell it--what the competition was or which editors to send it to.

But emotionally? In the middle of the night when I can't sleep? Do I regret passing on a book that someone else sold for a lot of money or that is now on the bestseller list? Well, what do you think? OF COURSE I REGRET IT.

Let's go back to the rational Jenny who is now soundly kicking the ass of emotional dark-night-of-the-soul Jenny. "Listen to me, and suck it up you sniveling pansy," she says.
For there is not one agent on the planet that likes every single book on the NYT bestseller list. For every book on that list there are agents who passed on it and editors who passed on it and it's just part of the business. There's even a "fun" game we agents and editors like to play called "Well, I passed on X." The bigger and more successful X is, the more you up the ante. It's not a game you really like to win of course, but it sure makes you feel better to play.

So do I regret it? Sort of. Not really. Kind of. Mostly no.

And why am I sharing this, you ask? I guess it's all part of my continuing efforts to show you that agents are people too.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

internship available

We're looking for an intern who loves to read all kinds of romance from historical to paranormal and suspense from authors like Mary Higgins Clark, Linda Howard, Tami Hoag, Lisa Gardner.

Send us an e-mail to Tell us about yourself, include a resume if you have one, but it's not necessary. Include two lists: the last ten books you read and your ten favorite books of all time. We ask for a ten hour a week commitment at the minimum.

We usually get a great many applicants and so I close the application period fairly quickly: watch this space and also twitter for details.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

You Can Only Buy One Book Today

I think this topic has been done to death, but just in case some of you were wondering why I wouldn’t want to represent a book that was certainly of publishable quality, or by most standards a “good” or “very good” book, here is a very short analogy.

You are at a bookstore. You pick up a book. You like it. It seems like a good book. It seems like a book that deserved to be published, at least in your opinion.

But today, you are only buying one book. You have a great many books at home already and you love them all. You have very limited shelf space and you don’t want to get rid of the books that you do love to make room for a book that you might not love as much. And so today, you will only bring home one, because that is what you have room for. Tomorrow, you might have more room. Perhaps you will have a new bookcase even. But today, there will only be one.

So you put back the book you really like, a little wistfully, because you know someone else will probably take it home, and you pick up the next book on the shelf. And you keep going, until you find the one that you love.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Think of me as a conduit, not a gatekeeper.

A year or two ago I was having lunch with a old friend, someone I think both intelligent and savvy, the publisher of a largish imprint at a major house. We had a disagreement about what was going to happen as e-books became more popular. His position was that readers would always need the big publishing houses because they needed to have their content filtered, so to speak--because as agents, editors, and publishers, we had a certain kind of literary taste or standard and we needed to pass that along to the reader.

Well, (as I told him--he and I are used to disagreeing) blech. I've always found this kind of thinking a bit elitist and unnecessary and I always will. And as the climate has continued to change, I like to think that he's been proven wrong. There's still an argument for why some authors need publishing houses, of course, which is that publishers can often be better at marketing and publicity and distribution than any individual author can be. Increasingly this is not always the case (although even Amanda Hocking has now decided to go the traditional route), but that's a discussion for a later time. Today, I am somewhat gleefully celebrating the fact that electronic publishing is really blowing apart the thinking that we in publishing somehow know better and have better taste than the average reader. Why this would be the case I'm not sure. Because some of us have Ivy League educations? Because we live in NYC and therefore somehow more sophisticated and urbane than most readers? Because we read The Paris Review and The New Yorker? Because we have chic haircuts and ironic sideburns and wear trendy little eyeglasses? (Full disclosure: I do not have ironic sideburns.)

What I'm loving most about the success of independently published e-books is that many of them didn't pass the "gatekeeper" test--the individual author tried and failed to get an agent or publisher and decided to do it themselves. And now lots of these authors are getting lucrative book deals as publishers struggle to catch up. AND, many of them are turning down agents and publishers because they want to keep doing it on their own terms. This has always happened in publishing to a certain extent, of course. My client Laurie Notaro self-published years ago because she couldn't find a publisher after seven years of trying, and when she did get a publishing deal at long last, her book debuted at #7 on the Times list. The Shack was self-published. Richard Paul Evans' first book was self-published. The list goes on, these are just off the top of my head. But now, with e-publishing, it's easier than ever for an author to get their book out there, and the list of successfully self-published e-book authors is growing exponentially, every day.

Maybe I'm just bitter. An agent friend and I were e-mailing today about "reader taste" vs. "publisher taste." I think I've always had a case of "reader taste" because many of the books that I've really loved I've had a tough time selling or sold for very little money. Yet most of them have gone on to do very well indeed, many of them hitting the Times list. I would list them, but I'm not sure the authors would appreciate me telling the world that their book was hard to sell. Regardless, I loved these books, and I knew readers would love these books, but publishers often weren't so sure, probably because the books were considered "quiet,"i.e., not "high concept," or because they were aimed at readers in Middle America, or because they were quirky and hard to categorize.

Look, I don't want to be too hard on editors and publishers. We're all doing our best, after all, and publishing will always be something of a crap shoot, because we can't really afford to do market research (except for Harlequin) and rely on guesswork to make pretty major decisions about what to publish and promote. When publishers are "running numbers" to decide how much money they can afford to spend on a book, a big part of the process is comparing the book to another book that is similar, and then factoring in the sales figures of said book. Sound unscientific? You betcha. But in many cases we don't have that much more to go on; it's just the nature of the beast so to speak. With so little to go on, publishers really do have rely on marketing hooks, etc. in their decision-making. But it's still fun to gloat when a "quiet" book takes off because readers love it, not because it's based on some awesome concept.

I guess the reason that I can't help being a little gleeful about the democratization of the process, is that what I dislike about publishing is less the *way* we make decisions but rather the attitude that sometimes--not always--goes into those decisions, this somewhat patronizing, East Coast urban attitude of knowing better than the rest of book-reading America. And the idea that a book must appeal to a certain kind of sophisticated east coast reader to be successful. I've always had a lot of respect for the publisher Steve Ross, who used to divide the country up into segments and have his editors each focus on what was popular in that area, mostly by reading local media (this was some years ago). He was very smart about remembering that people outside of New York do actually buy books. Amy Einhorn, of Amy Einhorn Books, is another one. You may have heard of a little book called The Help? It's not a high-concept book at all. But Amy fell in love with it, published it, and the rest is publishing history. It was the very first book she bought at her new imprint and we had lunch before it published. She was telling me how awesome it was, how excited she was--and look what happened! Readers respond, in my mind, to sincerity, to emotional truth, not to hooks.

So this has been a really rambling kind of post, but here's the whole point of it: to say, hooray for you writers out there who believe in yourselves enough to get your work out there by whatever means necessary. Hooray for your successes, hooray for your bravery, and hooray for the fact that every book you sell means you may be touching that reader's life in a powerful way. For isn't that why we're all in it? Even us gatekeepers.