Janet K. GrantWendy Lawton

Books & Such

Books & Such: Discerning Literature

What distinguishes Books & Such from the many other literary agencies? I’d say that staying connected is foundational to our agency. Books & Such is like every literary agency in that we vigorously work to place our clients’ projects with the best publishers, negotiate contracts in a way that’s fair but tough, and oversee payments of royalties and advances. Some agencies disconnect with their clients at this point and move on to other projects.

But in addition to these services, we believe in being troubleshooters once a project gets underway and overseeing the book for the rest of its publishing life. Plus we are committed to brainstorming with our clients. Sometimes that involves creating a three-year writing plan for an author; other times it’s deciding which of two topics to write about next; and coming up with the perfect title, making suggestions for refining a book cover design, or choosing what newfangled marketing idea an author should pursue to promote his or her latest title.

We see ourselves as part of a publishing team for each client, and teamwork is what we’re all about. That’s why, in October ’08, we held the first Books & Such Retreat for our clients.

Now, it’s true we were all eager to gather in California’s wine country for the retreat, but the synergy that occurred between the seventy-two clients who attended was marvelous to watch. They shared book ideas, ran titles by one another, and talked about what publicity activities had worked and which ones had bombed. They discovered one another’s books. But best of all, they developed relationships. New best friends and strong colleagues were found. We anticipate benefits for all involved to unfold through the years to come. That’s why we’re planning another retreat in October of this year at a beautiful resort on Cannery Row in Monterey, California.

Our agency’s motto, Discerning Literature, signifies that we work to discern what projects will add to the panoply of rich offerings

for readers. We have never been about just what’s hot; we want to help bring to the world books that touch hearts and souls.

Janet Kobobel Grant is our founder. She comes from a strong editorial background, having started with Campus Crusade publishing straight out of college. Janet had her own imprint while at Zondervan and discovered both Robin Jones Gunn and Patsy Clairmont while managing editor at Focus on the Family. When Focus on the Family made the move to Colorado, Janet decided to stay behind and do what she does best—work with writers. She opened Books & Such in 1996.

Wendy Lawton joined Books & Such after enjoying success as a designer and maker of collectible dolls and owner of Lawton Dolls. She brings to the agency a marketing mind-set and business acumen. As an author of the popular middle-grade series Daughters of the Faith, a teen series, and an adult nonfiction book, she enjoys a special perspective and knowledge of the publishing industry.

Etta Wilson became a part of Books & Such in 2007, after running her own agency, March Media, for eighteen years. A former children’s book author and editor, Etta majors in agenting children’s projects, although her reach extends into adult fiction and nonficion. Hailing from Tennessee, she has a gentle Southern charm that gives way to a steely resolve when it comes to negotiating contracts.

Rachel Zurakowski came to Books & Such as an intern in 2005, while still a student at UC Davis. After graduating with a degree in English and minors in religious studies and psychology, she joined the agency full time. At first she worked as an assistant, but her ability to spot a publishable manuscript, figure out royalty statements, and grasp the meanings of clauses in contracts earned her the spot as associate agent. Her clients write mostly for the twenty- to thirty-something audience, as well as the teen market.

Michelle Ule’s title is assistant, but as Janet says, “Linchpin would be more accurate. Our office swirls around Michelle, who acts as the grounding force for us all. Not only does she keep our office in order despite my chaotic habit of ‘filing’ all papers in stacks and mounds, she also manages our accounting and oversees the reading of queries, proposals, and manuscripts. Where would I be without her? Um, lost.”

So, in reading between the lines of who we are, I’d describe us as an integral, plugged-in, not-on-standby part of the publishing team for each of our clients. An agency that works hard to partner with authors, editors, marketers, and publicists to deliver discerning literature to an eager readership: That’s Books & Such.