Agents: old school to new wave

Update on 11/5/10 – Nathan Bransford sent a message today that he is no longer an agent at Curtis Brown. He will now be working in the technology industry. What a total surprise, disappointing many people, myself included.

Original post:

Agents, like all other publishing professionals, come in a variety of flavors: sweet to salty and good for you or not. There are lots of useful tools to help writers figure out who to target and how, from books to websites. Some agents are affiliated with big agencies, some are strictly independent; some are in the NYC milieu, some more local or international. There are agents who are trade book focused, and others who zero in on the commercial arena.

One important factor is what that person is like, since connecting with an agent will mean working closely with him/her. Listings in a book will not tell you much about agents as people. Those agents who do not take advantage of digital networking don’t reveal much about themselves to the wider world, although book conferences and other face-to-face events are useful ways to get to know these people.

Agents who run blogs or involve themselves in other social networking give many more clues about their outlook and philosophies. One star in this category is Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown.

Nathan Bransford May, 2011

He is as superhuman as the main character in his book  Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow (coming to your local bookstore in May of 2011, published by Dial Books.) Follow his blog and you will come to know a guy who reads, writes, instigates conversations, is a full time agent and has a life. It is mind boggling how much he can pack in. Read his essay “The rejection letter of the future will be silence and why this is a good thing” to get a taste – he mentions that he receives 15,000-20,000 queries a year. His home base is San Francisco (go Giants!) and he is in New York this week, meaning he’s actively bi-coastal. Yesterday he posted this Jay-Z and Alicia Keyes song about this city “of 8 million stories”. My point is, he is fun and zeroed in. His blog is a goldmine of perspectives, interactions and links for children’s book people. Check it out.

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  1. Posted November 7, 2010 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Thank you!! I really appreciate the post.

    • JAZ
      Posted November 7, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Hi Nathan. I hope you do well with the book and your new position. I don’t have time to follow more than one or two blogs (unlike apparently everyone else out there!), and yours was the one I went to most often because it was truly informative, but also fun. So, I guess I now have more time to do my own thing.
      Because of your boot camp reminders, I signed up for NaNoWriMo for the first time ever. I know I won’t make the deadline (I’m only up to 6,000 wds. so far), but it gave me the incentive to start on my answer to all those YA vampire novels out there. My story is set in Viking era Iceland, Greenland and Vinland with Gudridur Thorbjarnardottir as the main character. You know, Snorri’s mom…he was the first person of European descent born in North America (as far as anyone knows). Gudrid’s time included more than its share of dystopian stuff – berserkers, ghosts, dead people who prophesied after their demise, shapeshifters, etc. sprinkled amid lots of ordinary people struggling for survival amid extraordinary obstacles. My son is married to an Icelander and lives there, and they gave me the book of sagas that I found Gudrid in.
      Anyway, that was a small door you opened for me.
      Sorry to see you go, but I wish you all the best.

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