Agents Who Make Bank.Deal makers nurture the careers of popular black authors and more
There just aren't enough book deals. Every writer won't get one. Plus, authors lack the time, credibility, contacts, and industry knowledge to successfully land good contracts at publishing houses all on their own.
Enter the literary agent--Brita filters who present the strongest material for publication and make the best deals. They are negotiations, accountants, and, oftentimes, editors. Because most major publishing houses won't review unagented submissions, literary agents are taste makers with a tremendous, often underestimated, impact upon what books get published. Literary agents are cultural agents.
Recognizing the importance of literary agents, Black Issues Book Review interviewed some of the people who have shepherded the books that have entertained, educated, and inspired us. The books we cherish are diverse and vibrant, and so are the agents behind them.
Developing creativity in authors
The publishing community perhaps best knows Marie Brown for the rigorous editorial attention she provides clients, especially new writers. Brown admits that even more than "getting the deal," she cherishes "working creatively and developmentally with the authors."
It's no wonder this agent entered the business at the behest of authors. "At the time [early 1980s], the industry was shifting drastically, no longer accepting unsolicited manuscripts, thus creating a market for agents. There were people saying, `Please, please be my agent,'" she recalls. The veteran Doubleday/Anchor books senior editor launched the New York-based Marie Brown and Associates in 1984.
Pitching books to a predominately white editorial community is difficult. "My experience as an African American African American Multiculture A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. See Race. far exceeds that of anyone who makes publishing decisions about this market. To have to wait for the imprimatur of such individuals is my major challenge," she laments.
The future of Marie Brown & Associates lay with the associates. Says associate Janell Walden Agyeman, "I try to pass the baton of agenting onto others, whether they work for me or for other agencies."
Some of your favorite authors represented by Marie Brown: Dr. Johnetta B. Cole, Beverly Guy-Shefftal, Randall Robinson For the cameraman, see .
Randall Robinson (6 July, 1941- ) is an African-American lawyer, author and activist, noted as the founder of TransAfrica. He is known particularly for his impassioned opposition to South African apartheid, and for his advocacy on behalf of Haitian , Susan Taylor, Van Whitfield.
Promoting literary merit Literary merit is a quality of written work, generally applied to the genre of literary fiction. A work is said to have literary merit (to be a work of art) if it is a work of quality, that is if it has some aesthetic value.
"I do what I like and what I like is very often literary fiction, serious nonfiction, and literary nonfiction. I do some commercial fiction as well--when there is a message in it," says industry juggernaut Faith Childs.
Since establishing the New York-based Faith Childs Literary Agency, Childs has been intellectually uncompromising within anoften superficial publishing culture. "[My largest challenge] is trying to convince editors in a market-driven economy that work with literary merit has value," she admits.
Childs' client list is as inclusive as her reading is expansive. "I read everything. I am very well read in the classics, read a lot of history--not just American, but African, European, and social science. I don't just represent black writers; I don't just read black works."
An intellectual maverick, Childs has represented many provocative projects, including lames Ridgeway A ridgeway is a road or path that follows the highest part of the landscape. Roads and pathways
Some of your favorite authors represented by Faith Childs: Benilde Little, Paule Marshall Paule Marshall (born April 9, 1929) is an American author. She was born Valenza Pauline Burke in Brooklyn to Barbadian parents and educated at Brooklyn College (1953) and Hunter College (1955). Early in her career, she wrote poetry, but later returned to prose. , Valerie Wilson The name Valerie Wilson may refer to:
Selling a passion for letters
"Agenting is a sales profession. People don't realize that we are salespeople. We must consider those aspects of a book we can pitch and whether it can sell," insists Denise Stinson. Stinson's impressive client list is a result of her shrewd business sense. It's also reflective of her passion for letters. "[My favorite My Favorite is an independent synthpop band from Long Island, New York. They released two CDs: Love at Absolute Zero and Happiest Days of Our Lives. My Favorite broke up on September 14, 2005, when singer Andrea Vaughn left the band. aspect of being an agent] is selling someone's project who had written it for the sheer joy of writing, someone who is not writing because they think they'll be the next whomever whom·ev·er
The objective case of whoever. See Usage Note at who.
the objective form of whoever: , make a million dollars, or become a bestseller--just someone who enjoys the process of writing." Stinson notes the joy of selling Pearl Cleage's--Oprah's Book Club novel, What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day. "She was so genuinely pleased that a publisher and other people found her novel valuable," Stinson gushes.
Stinson's Stinson Literary Agency is a geographic rebel. Though the publishing industry is New York-based, Stinson's Bloomfield Hills, Michigan Bloomfield Hills is a city in Oakland County of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is located in the Metro Detroit area, nearly completely surrounded by Bloomfield Township; it also borders the city of Birmingham. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 3,940. , agency is one of the nation's most accomplished. "The fact that I am not [in New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of ] has opened me up to different voices and made it possible for those voices to be published."
Some of your favorite authors represented by Denise Stinson: Pearl Cleage Pearl Cleage (born 7 December, 1948) is an [African-American]] poet, essayist, and journalist living in Atlanta, Georgia. An activist on issues including AIDS, women's rights, and black life, her first novel, What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day , Queen Latifah, Omar Tyree, Iyanla Vanzant
Up and Coming Agents
Making new ideas happen
After a stint at a publishing company and seeking mentors--"I spent plenty of time in [Marie Brown's] office"--McGregor was ready to run his own agency. He started the Long Island, New York-based JMG JMG Journal of Medical Genetics
JMG Junior Master Gardener
JMG Journal of Metamorphic Geology
JMG Junior Maine Guide
JMG Joint Meteorological Group
JMG Jam Master Geordie Books in 1997.
McGregor credits his selectivity for the rapid growth of his agency. "It's not in my nature to compromise or settle for less.... When I do see good stuff like [Pulitzer Prize-writer Phyllis Alesia Perry's] Stigmata stigmata (stĭg`mətə, stĭgmăt`ə) [plural of stigma, from Gr.,=brand], wounds or marks on a person resembling the five wounds received by Jesus at the crucifixion. , I instantly recognize it and want to pick it up and make these books happen." In addition to Perry, McGregor also represented a biography of Zora Neale Hurston Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 – January 28, 1960) was an American folklorist and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance, best known for the 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. , and David Wright and David Zoby's Fire On The Beach, the little known story of the African American Pea Island lifesavers. "I like things that no one has done before," McGregor affirms.
Itching to become a dealmaker deal·mak·er
One that makes deals, as in business, finance, or politics.
dealmak , Tanya McKinnon left her foreign scout job for the Mary Evans Inc. agency. Over the past two years, McKinnon has helped publish books by such writers as mega-publicist Terrie Williams and Sandra Guzman, chief of Solo Ella, the largest Latina website.
The high author interaction of agenting is a natural fit for McKinnon. "I love working with authors. Helping them shape and develop projects is like being in the graduate school of life. I get to learn new things about the world every day."
McKinnon hopes not only to attract more African American agents to the industry, but creative talent as well. "I would love to find new talent in nonfiction and fiction, the new Toni Morrisons and James Baldwins."