“WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR AS AN AGENT?”
JBV: A very simple answer: storytellers and troublemakers. All good writing is storytelling – making the reader turn the page. And, as long as you the writer are telling a story, making a case, presenting an argument, let’s make it interesting, controversial, let’s cause readers’ eyes and ears to perk up. Let’s not do formula, let’s not do cant, let’s create some intellectual excitement.
“MORE SPECIFICALLY, WHAT TYPE OF BOOKS DO YOU LOOK FOR?”
JBV: I primarily do a lot of politics/current events - mostly on the conservative side of the aisle, some liberal, whatever idea or argument strikes me as thought provoking. But I’ve done books in many different categories, so present me with a provocative idea and we’ll go from there.
“WHAT DO PUBLISHERS WANT?”
JBV: To the unpublished (or published) author,
book publishing can appear to be a mysterious,
unknowable, amorphous, unimaginative, take-no-
chances business. Frankly, you won’t find me
arguing otherwise. But this presents you with an
opportunity to stand out from the crowd. All editors
are looking for that career-making book. (Their
career, that is, you come along for the ride). Who
could have predicted that EATS, SHOOTS &
LEAVES, a book about punctuation for goodness
sake, would do so well? Don’t worry so much about
what publishers want, think about what you can do,
and give it to them.
“WHAT DO AGENTS DO?”
JBV: Help you come up with the idea, help you write the proposal, find you a co-writer if necessary, sell the proposal to the best publisher and editor, vet the contract, monitor and advise on the book writing itself, monitor and advise on the jacket art, oversee the publicity and marketing plan, sell the rights to a foreign publisher, sell the film/TV rights, repeat the process, with improvements, all over again for the next book.