Thursday, July 23, 2009

An Agent and I are Corresponding, but Don't Look for a Book from me in the Near Future

I just got a message from Michael Murphy, an ex-publishing fellow who is now an agent. He was letting us know that the story collection Concord, Virginia from Peter Neofotis was getting some nice reviews, but might have been skipped in our initial orders. He was right on. There’s so much out there that Jason (and I before him) certainly skipped a lot of collections on first past. We look at the quotes, the publisher, the editor, and listen to the buzz from the rep…and many times that doesn’t come until the book’s out.

We had an interesting talk about how the book actually had some good placement at B&N (must have gotten a good read from a buyer) and whether the book was regional or not (my paraphrased quote? “All books are regional, until they aren’t”), and what we would be doing (we ordered it in for stock).

I usually use folks’ last names unless like authors, they are public figures. I’m assuming the agent is thanked in the books’ acknowledgement. I’m sure Neofotis is very happy that his agent is contacting stores to make sure they are keeping up with Concord Virginia’s increasing attention, and this could lead to more, if not better, submissions.

The most interesting part of this story is how we are interacting more and more with agents. Rob Weisbach kept me abreast of what was happening with Norman Olestad’s Crazy for the Storm, Barney Karpfinger stopped by to see the store and he talked up Ali Sethi’s The Wish Maker. Sethi connected with Karpfinger as a recommended student of Amitav Ghosh, another client.

So why do I know more agents than I did ten years ago? Technology and social networking certainly make it easier. In the past, a call would have been intrusive and a note, likely unanswered. Now it seems making the contact is business as usual and not reacting is the ruder option. Isn’t that a strange turn of events?

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