Today’s post is by Brandi Bowles, a literary agent at Foundry Literary & Media, who represents a wide range of fiction and nonfiction authors.
In fiction, she is actively seeking high-concept novels that feature magical, psychological, or scientific themes. She prefers a contemporary, real-world setting, well-developed characters, and dialogue that’s just a little smarter than you hear in real life.
From the beginning development stages to the submission process, Brandi works hand-in-hand with each author to find the right strategy and approach for their work, with the goal of landing the ideal publishing partner. Beyond publication, she continues to works with authors to find new opportunities for their books and brands.
Her goal is always to establish an atmosphere of transparency, so authors know they have an advocate they can trust.
I’ve long been a supporter of de-mystifying the publishing industry. I believe our relationships with authors only improve when they understand and appreciate what we do. There is no magic phrase we use to open the gates of publishing, only hard work. That includes years of networking, studying the industry, honing our tastes, and figuring out how to best position our authors.
Follow Brandi on Twitter.
First Line of Defense
Writers always want to know: How do I find an agent? I get it; I know how important it is, and how arduous the process can seem. But whenever I hear writers refer to agents as the “gatekeepers,” I become a little bit guarded. I see the analogy, but a good agent is so much more.
The truth is, outside of career guidance, editorial work, writing advice, matchmaking, and selling, agents are the only people that can protect you when the publishing process goes awry. And it happens more than you might think.
When Good Book Deals Go Bad
I always celebrate when I close a deal for an author, whether it’s a six-figure bonanza or a small advance for a worthy, hard-working client at the right house. But I’ve learned that even the prettiest, most bow-tied deals can go sour. It’s a dirty secret that books get canceled for all sorts of reasons before they are published. There is the rare case of true “unacceptability” (in most publishing contracts, if the material isn’t satisfactory the publisher can cancel). But often the inner machinations of the publisher/imprint play a role.
The first time I had a contract cancelled for “unacceptability,” the imprint in question was shuttered just one day after cancellation. Highly suspicious. Another project, bought at auction, had been written with close direction, and the manuscript pre-approved in stages by the editor. We were told the MS had been accepted, but then two higher ups read and had divergent opinions on the material—this one disliked for one reason, and that another. The publisher got cold feet and tried to cancel, without providing an opportunity for a revision.
For agent and author, this was a five-alarm fire, and it was only through a mix of persuasive argument, a dozen phone calls, and strategy—namely, a complete reorganization of the book—that I kept that project on their list.