View Full Version : Four Young Agents - conversation

08-13-2010, 07:34 PM
This is about a year old, but in looking up information about a Renee Zuckerbrot yesterday I found this very interesting article - a round table with Lazar, Kleinman, Barer, and Zuckerbrot.

Worth the read.

http://www.pw.org/content/agents_and_editors_qampa_four_young_literary_agent s?article_page=2

My favorite bit of the conversation:

LAZAR: Then you know what? You would not have been the right agent. For example, when I read The Art of Racing in the Rain, I admired it very much but I thought it needed a little more x, y, z, let's say. I remember writing a very nice note to Garth and saying, "This is very impressive, but blah blah blah." Well, the next thing you know, some other motherf***er sells it for $1.25 million the way it was. [Laughter.]
KLEINMAN: Call me a mofo.
LAZAR: Okay, a mofo. If I had taken that book on the way it was, I either would have put him through editorial hell or I would have sent it out the way it was and maybe—not intentionally—underpitched it and if someone tried to preempt it for, you know, a hundred thousand dollars, I would have been grateful.
KLEINMAN: You want to know how I handled that, just because I think it's kind of interesting? I read the first fifty pages and knew exactly what was wrong with the book. I called him and said, "Here's what you need to do to fix it." He said, "Do you want to see the rest?" I was like, "No. There's no point. I know you have to fix this first." He was like, "Yeah, you're right. I see exactly what you mean." All I can say is, I don't feel like I'm competing against other agents.
BARER: You never feel like you're competing against them?
KLEINMAN: I don't want to think about it like that. I feel like I've got to have a relationship with the author, and it's me and the author.
BARER: Do you ever lose things?
KLEINMAN: Constantly.

KLEINMAN: So much of it's about responsiveness. My favorite story is about this book I got from a doctor in San Francisco. He'd written this novel. He sent it to me on a Wednesday, and I was doing the whole "I'm going to be an important literary person" thing and I thought, "I'll read it on my at-home reading day on Friday." So I took it home on Friday and read the book and totally loved it. I called the author and said, "I would love to represent you." He said, "Well, Elaine Koster just offered representation, and I'm going to go with her."
LAZAR: Oh, man.
BARER: Not even a conversation.
KLEINMAN: The book was called The Kite Runner. [Extended whooping and laughter.] And I think he did absolutely the right thing. She was totally on the ball.
LAZAR: You lost The Kite Runner? I lost The Art of Racing in the Rain, but you lost The Kite Runner? That trumps everything.

08-13-2010, 09:08 PM

I have only read the first two pages and will have to go back for the rest. A very good article. I found myself taking notes.

The define your audience. How many times have we had folks on the AW inquire or ask what genre their books is? If the writer doesn't know, how can they ever market it to an agent? You have to know who will be interested in reading your work besides yourself.

Having a 'cheerleading editor'. That makes so much sense.

For a writer to always be on their best behavior. That's a good thing to keep in mind, even when posting in places like the AW. You just never know who might be reading your posts.

It takes more than just being a good writer. If you don't know what is selling and what turns folks on it will make no difference how passionate you are about your work.

Just because you have been rejected a few times, relax. Fiction is subjective just like movies. Not everyone will like your stuff.

Loved the comparison of the diet writer eating at IHOP. lol. You better be in touch with your readers.

There is just so much insight in this link. The funny part is that a great deal of the things said have been stated right here in the AW over and over.

Thanks again for the link.

08-14-2010, 12:29 AM
Thanks for this! I read the whole thing - very interesting! :)

08-14-2010, 01:32 AM
Thank you so much.

It does echo the wonderful advice on AW.

Mr. Anonymous
08-14-2010, 01:49 AM
Great article... And a much-needed dose of reality as well. The common wisdom at AW seems to be as long as something is well written it will sell. These agents tell a different story.

Eddyz Aquila
08-14-2010, 02:35 AM
I would really be pissed if I would have been the agent losing The Kite Runner.

Miss Plum
08-15-2010, 02:11 AM
That's fascinating. I'm forwarding the link to a Published Author friend of mine who became very disillusioned on the road to publication. It seems to be full of frustrations for everyone!