Pub Rants

A Non-New York State Of Mind

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STATUS: Is it really this early on a Friday? I’m going to be on a plane for most of today (and not off to World Fantasy) so I’m getting an early start on my day.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I’M GOIN’ DOWN by Bruce Springsteen

To be honest, whether an agent is located in New York or not seems to be a big matter of importance only for writers.

For editors, they simply don’t care where an agent is located as long as his or her reputation is solid and the projects they see from those agents are good, good, good.

I bring this up because I hang out at a few online writers chat places (because I love keeping in touch with what writers are thinking and feeling) and almost once a month, this topic rises again and someone always posts that “most of the top agents” are in New York and writers should really have a New York agent.

Of course this bothers me for obvious reasons—being located in Denver and all.

Well, I started to really think about that. I could literally name 30 agents (just off the top of my head) with really stellar client lists that include huge NYT bestsellers who live and operate outside of New York.

Here’s a quick sampling just to get the ole brain cells firing this morning:

Deidre Knight, Knight Agency (Madison, Georgia)
Jeff Kleinman, Folio Literary Management (Washington, D.C.)
Jim Hornfischer, Hornfischer Literary Management (Austin, Texas)
Amy Rennert, The Amy Rennert Literary Agency, (Tiburon, CA.)
Sandy Dijkstra, Dijkstra Literary Agency (CaminoDel Mar, CA)
Robert Shepard, Shepard Literary Agency (Berkeley, CA)

And when you start boiling down the really stellar agents in New York, yes, I can name more than 30—but in reality not too many more (depending on criteria and what one considers “top” etc.)

So since it’s my blog, I’ll rant if I want too! Wink.

Now the problem that gives us non-New Yorkers a tougher road for this myth-busting is the fact that the good majority of scammers operate outside of New York (because it would be too expensive to operate in the Big Apple).

That’s easily fixed. Have Writer Beware and its 20-Worst Agents list on your radar.

And spread the word.


21 Responses

  1. lizzie26 said:

    Kristen, glad you brought it up. A lot of writers ask that question. The thing is, with email and cell phones, there’s no reason to need an agent who’s in NYC. There are writers who think that agents lunch with clients all the time. Not true. And thanks for posting the link to the top 20 worst agents. That needs repeating often!

  2. srchamberlain said:

    Not to quibble with an excellent point, but the Dijkstra agency is in Del Mar. (Camino Del Mar is the street.)

    Can you tell I’m from San Diego?

    Another big one out here is the Manus Agency. I believe they’re located in Palo Alto.

  3. Julie Leto said:

    My agent is in LA. I’m selling just fine and have never noticed any disadvantage except when I’m having a crisis and it would be rude to call her at 7am my time…which is 4am her time, LOL! Of course, she’s not going to exactly be in her office to answer the phone, is she? On the flip side, when she needs something “by Monday morning” I have at least three extra hours to get it to her.

  4. Maprilynne said:

    I think this really used to be true when most manuscripts wwere sold face-to-face because e-mail was new or non-existent. But now even New York agents do so little face-to-face contacting. It is certainly something a non-New Yorker can do on a trip every few months.:)
    I would personally rather live in New York, but that has nothing to do with publishing.:)

  5. Kanani said:

    Funny how the world has gone global but some myths remain. E-mail has made the world smaller. The first time I got published it was with a publisher in Australia.

    One of the most exciting book events happens each year in L.A. It’s the LA Times Festival of Books, it’s free, and each year the thing just gets bigger and writers from all over the world take part.

  6. katiesandwich said:

    Are you a mind reader, Kristin? I’ve been thinking about this recently. I know very well that good agents can live outside New York. But I also know that the editor-agent lunches thing is NOT a myth, because I was at a conference in August where one of the agents in attendence talked about them. So I was curious how you and other good, non-New York literary agents get to know editors and the kind of project they’d be interested in. Email and phone is how you keep in touch, of course, but how did you initially get to know them? I know you don’t usually answer questions from your blog; I’m just putting my curiosities out there.

  7. Tami said:

    srchamberlain, you beat me too it! I was going to correct the whole Del Mar thing myself, living here in San Diego and all!

    Thanks for the reminder that there are great agents everywhere Kristin!

  8. LadyBronco said:

    Personally, I don’t care where my eventual agent will be from either (I’m with Wilfred on this one), I just want someone who is as much into selling my book as I am into writing it.

  9. Julie Leto said:

    Katie, I can’t speak for Kristin, but my agent did her initial agenting in New York before she left for the other coast. She goes back quite often and spends a week doing the lunch/meeting think. Frankly, I rarely even know she’s gone b/c we keep in touch via Blackberry. She actually sent out a proposal for me one time while vacationing in Italy. The world really is a smaller place.

  10. Jana DeLeon said:

    katie – Kristin makes several trips each year to NY to meet with editors. She is also a big traveler to both national and local conferences as a speaker and meets with editors while attending those. At RWA National she, myself and my editor all met for drinks to chat over my books and everything else.

    My editor also said that she loves getting stuff from Kristin because she knows the writing is going to be great. So I guess you don’t have to be in front of their eyes to always be in the back of their mind. Obviously she’s doing a great job of targeting the perfect editor with the perfect project fit for them.

    Now, how she does it – heck I don’t know. Magic, ESP, National Enquirer…… 🙂

  11. Anonymous said:

    A published member of a writers group I belong to recently dropped his agent because she wasn’t in NYC. She sold his book, and from what we heard (from him) was working her butt off trying to “move him up” (he didn’t like his publisher. Not enough cachet for him). And she did this in less than a year!
    I am sure it wasn’t her fault that 12 different top top editors turned him down!
    I knew this guy was a jerk as soon as I met him. Full of himself and his accomplishments. Our place as unpublished wannabes was to worship at his knowledgable feet.
    I would adore an agent who worked this hard on my behalf, wherever he or she is located. You’re right. Doing the job is all that matters.

  12. Anonymous said:

    I agree that the agent not being in New York shouldn’t be a dealbreaker, but there are advantages to having one who is. Besides the aforementioned convenience of being able to lunch with editors on a regular basis (and regardless of whether the agent is in New York, the editor almost always is), there’s the added advantage of having direct access to a strong writers’ community, particularly for non-fiction, given the number of magazine and newspaper companies headquartered there. And bumping into editors casually and frequently– which happens all the time because you can find them lunching at the same handful of restaurants and going to the same industry parties–only helps in terms of relationship-building.

  13. Anonymous said:

    The biggest advantage to having an agent located in Manhattan (not NYC, MANHATTAN), is that they might walk a ms to an editor themselves, thereby saving the cost of mailing or messenger. The rest is nonsense in a technology-ridden age.