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Donald Maass Literary Agency

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Fishbowl

I was just wondering if anyone has any stories to share about meeting Don Maass in person or through e-mail? Of course he is a top-tier and excellent agent, but I'm just curious to hear any personal evaluations. Thanks so much in advance. :) I've really enjoyed his Writing the Breakout Novel workbook/book, and am thinking about going to either a conference where he's present or one of his writing workshops.
 

Crunchy Frog

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I met him at a conference and took his Writing the Breakout Novel workshop. Real nice guy. Funny too. He's been my dream agent since then.

That's about all I can tell you though. I have no idea whether he's a great guy to work with or not.
 

Jaws

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Don is an excellent teacher and knows far more about agenting and publishing scams than do most agents. (Disclosure: He's also a friend—not a close one, but a friend nonetheless—and we have and continue to jointly represent, for differing purposes, a number of authors.) He's also far more willing than many agents these days to take time with authors whose work isn't quite ready for publication, but shows promise.
I've probably just condemned him to another huge pile of manuscripts in the slush pile.
 

dragonjax

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Fishbowl said:
I was just wondering if anyone has any stories to share about meeting Don Maass in person or through e-mail? Of course he is a top-tier and excellent agent, but I'm just curious to hear any personal evaluations. Thanks so much in advance. :) I've really enjoyed his Writing the Breakout Novel workbook/book, and am thinking about going to either a conference where he's present or one of his writing workshops.

A very talented friend of mine just signed with Don recently. Based on what she told me, Don is very professional, super nice, and a terrific guy...who happens to be a top-tier agent (possibly the top-tier agent) for her genre.
 

DaveKuzminski

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In the past two days, I have received emails from writers that there may be Trojans and virii on the Donald Maass web site. One such email contained what looked like part of a Trojan. I have attempted to reach them through two different methods. Hopefully, this will only be a temporary condition, but to be safe in visiting any web site, always have current anti-virus software.
 

Jamesaritchie

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Maass

Maass is a good agent and a nice guy. I think he's way, way, way too iron clad and often wrong in his book about writing a breakout novel, but there's no doubt he's a good agent.
 

blacbird

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I met him at a meeting several years ago and found him polite, courteous, engaging, energetic, short, and very very knowledgeable. He subsequently rejected my query politely, with courtesy, in a short, energetic and engaging manner. Which probably proves he's very very knowledgeable.

caw.
 

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Don Maass. Nice guy. Sharp as hell. Good teacher. Has Firm Opinions about writing. Encouraging to the young. Not a rocket scientist where computers are involved. In recent years, has been spending increasing amounts of his time on the teaching side of his career.
 

BudJay

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i was actually just reading about him in the 2006 guide to literary agents. i ****ed up and went PublishAmerica for my "hype" novel *waits to get *** whooped* i didn't know any better. i know better now, so i'm lookin for an agent first and foremost, and this guy seemed intreguing. i'ma send him a query within the next week. any tips on what i should say?
 

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Donald Maas and Trident Media Group

Has anyone had any expereince dealing with Donald Maas Literary Agency and the Trident Media Group? Good or Bad? Thanks.
 

Aubrey

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You got the B&BC sub board, the PA one. You might want to get a mod to move this over to the other board. :)

BTW, 'm afraid I can't help you about the agent. But I'm sure someone can.
 

Halifax

I met him at a conference last year - a genuine Mr Nice Guy and, as HapiSofi said, sharp. He isn't a fan of backstory or prologues.

:)
 

arkady

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Jamesaritchie said:
Maass is a good agent and a nice guy. I think he's way, way, way too iron clad and often wrong in his book about writing a breakout novel, but there's no doubt he's a good agent.

I couldn't agree more.
 

UrsusMinor

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Jamesaritchie said:
I think he's way, way, way too iron clad and often wrong in his book about writing a breakout novel, but there's no doubt he's a good agent.

Yep. And in his workshop he has all kinds of rules that are a little questionable, too.

He has a somewhat silly exercise where people have to read only the first line of their novel and be judged by it. Sounds like a good idea in principle, but in the workshop I was in, no less than three people had opening lines that seemed like duds...until you read the second line, which made them brilliant.

He thinks "Call me Ishmael" is a brilliant first line. I disagree, and think it is only brilliant in retrospect. It is a brilliant way to start the page on which it appears, but out of context and without the mystic chords of memory it is trivial. What makes it work is that it is so authorial a way to roll into the orotund phrases that follow.

Good agent, but a little rule-bound. And, as Bill Brohaugh famously remarked, the only real rule is "never start a sentence with a comma."
 

Jaws

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[N.B. I consider Don a friend, and we have in the past, continue to, and no doubt will in the future jointly represent some authors, for differing purposes.]

I have to disagree with the skepticism people attach to Don's Writing the Breakout Novel approach. You need to remember one very critical thing: He's talking about a menu of processes, not about a necessary result. As a more-obvious example from the art world, Picasso was a gifted naturalistic/realistic painter who achieved substantial mastery of those tools before shifting toward "Guernica" and the Cubism for which he is better known.

Don's actual point could be much more explicit, but it is that those who have not already demonstrated mastery of the writing equivalent of the techniques involved in painting the naturalistic/realistic form need to engage in the process of obtaining that mastery and then extending it to produce good works, not immediately jump to experimentation without ever learning the underlying principles. Just take a look at the works Don actually sells, and you'll see that his "rigidity" is the same rigidity as the art instructor imposes in the basic drawing class, or that the piano teacher imposes on the second- and third-year student. Don is merely being diplomatic — too much so, in my opinion, but we genially disagree on this — in not characterizing most unpublished (or "underpublished") writers as the equivalent of third graders taking piano lessons.

To put it another way: Writing fiction is about a great deal more than merely putting together an argument in clear prose. Alan Dershowitz and Stephen Carter are good examples; they're both unusually good writers as law professors, but their works of fiction fall far short of the standard set by their law review articles and nonfiction books.

The real problem is that most advice offered to fiction writers is actually more suited to writing five-paragraph-form essays than to writing fiction, except when placed in the box called "characterization" (when it's usually better suited for the rubbish bin, but that's another argument entirely). Don's approach is better than the "status quo," and that's enough for me to recommend it ... especially since, unlike almost all "write a novel" books, Writing the Breakout Novel lives in the real world of commercial publishing and includes substantial valuable advice on that world.
 

SK Kane

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I had a very positive experience corresponding with Donald Maass this summer. He ended up with my partial after I sent it as part of an initial query packet to an agent who had recently left employment at his agency.

He asked for a full and reviewed it within three months. He said that it wasn't the novel to "launch" me (sounds like his "break out" novel philosophy), but that he thinks I'm going to "make it" as a fantasy writer, and that he would be interested in seeing other novels from me in the future.

An encouraging rejection letter, and an overall positive experience. In fact, his comments inspired me to start a new novel in a new fantasy world (I've been working on a progressive saga within one fantasy world for the last five years) in order to diversify my writing and give me something new to market if the first novel of my series doesn't find its way into print. A good lesson to learn.
 
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SK Kane

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I keep all my paper responses in a file - though his stationary is attractive, perhaps it would be a good addition to my decor.

While Maass may have hoped to see me "launched", I'd be happy at the moment to "build a foundation". However, the letter gives me hope that I may be able to return to Maass at a point when I'm hoping to take my career to a higher level.
 

UWS

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Curious

I'm really curious about Donald Maass. On another thread, someone mentioned "Donald Maass and Binky" as two uber-agents--the kind that any writer would kill to have. But I went to Maass's site and I was pretty unimpressed with his roster of authors. Amanda (Binky) Urban's reputation, I get. Her author list speaks for itself. So does Molly Friedrich's and that of a few other agents.
But Maass? Can someone enlighten me as to why he's considered such a great agent?
I even glanced at his book on how to write a breakout novel and found it pretty glib. Of course he could still be a great agent and I'm just missing something...
 

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Jaws said:
Don is an excellent teacher and knows far more about agenting and publishing scams than do most agents. (Disclosure: He's also a friend—not a close one, but a friend nonetheless—and we have and continue to jointly represent, for differing purposes, a number of authors.) He's also far more willing than many agents these days to take time with authors whose work isn't quite ready for publication, but shows promise.
I've probably just condemned him to another huge pile of manuscripts in the slush pile.

You certainly have.
 

JeanneTGC

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UWS said:
I'm really curious about Donald Maass. On another thread, someone mentioned "Donald Maass and Binky" as two uber-agents--the kind that any writer would kill to have. But I went to Maass's site and I was pretty unimpressed with his roster of authors. Amanda (Binky) Urban's reputation, I get. Her author list speaks for itself. So does Molly Friedrich's and that of a few other agents.
But Maass? Can someone enlighten me as to why he's considered such a great agent?
I even glanced at his book on how to write a breakout novel and found it pretty glib. Of course he could still be a great agent and I'm just missing something...

Maass is huge in fantasy. Any fantasy writer (myself included) would kill to be represented by his agency (okay, maybe some wouldn't kill, but, uh, you know, if the Maass folks *need* someone "taken care of" in return for enthusiastic representation, call me). He agents the guy who wrote "Wicked" (sorry, I know it's Gregory but I can't remember his last name), as an example.
 

aadams73

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That would be Gregory Maguire. I'm thinking about selling my soul to Satan in exchange for being able to write half as well as him. ;)
 

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