Beyond the Smoke
Terry Burns

Terry Burns is an agent with Hartline Literary as well as writing inspirational fiction. As a writer he has over 40 books in print including 10 novels. He has a new 4 book series from Port Yonder Press entitled “The Sagebrush Collection” of his collected short works and the first released March 2010 entitled “On the Road Home.” A Young Adult entitled Beyond the Smoke won the Will Rogers Medallion and a new book “A Writer’s Survival Guide to Publication” also from Port Yonder Press was developed out of the month long course he held for ACFW. A popular speaker at workshops across the country, a bookstore of his available works as well as a regular blog is at As an agent Terry says "I'm looking for a good book, well written in a unique voice, aimed at a market that looks promising, and where I feel I have the contacts appropriate to be able to sell the book in that market. I’m pretty open as to genre but I don’t do children’s, sci fi or fantasy. He’s a member of the Association of Author’s Representatives (AAR).

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What Does The Future Hold?

Starting a new year seems like a good time to look back over the past year and see how it shook out. This month marks my ten-year anniversary with Hartline, five years as an agent. Prior to my joining Hartline, I was involved in writing and publishing (primarily business oriented) for some twenty years, before I turned to writing fiction and recognized the need for an agent.

The numbers tell a lot of the story. I ended 2011 with sixty-one clients and have gained 119 book contracts for them, twenty-three of them multibook contracts. That means that 71 percent of my clients have published since signing with me. That is certainly no record, but it’s not a bad average. I went through over 3400 submissions to select these clients, again surely not a record, but it feels like a lot.

The numbers don’t tell the entire story. I work with a large number of new writers, and I’m usually in the number one spot on the Publishers Marketplace Website of agents placing debut authors. That also means I work with more small publishers than some agents in helping these debut authors get their start. I get a lot of pleasure out of helping new writers get started.

I do an occasional contract with a client for a single book, but most Hartline clients sign for “all book length work.” That means we are more interested in helping them develop their careers, not just sell a book. I helped Jennifer Hudson Taylor get her first book in print, and now she has eight books in print or under contract. Max Elliot Anderson had a number of books in print, but his publisher went out of business. We were able to find a publisher that would reissue those books, so he has gone on to have seventeen “books for (reluctant reader) boys” in print or under contract and is still going strong. While with me, Jill Williamson won a Christy with her By Darkness Hid, and though she no longer uses an agent, she has gone on to win a second Christy.

I require that all of my clients be in an online group, which gives me an opportunity to contact all of them at once. They have the option of being in the side of the group that can talk to one another or the side that only receives priority messages from me. The full-access side has become a very close group and have also become prayer warriors who support one another, celebrate one another’s successes, and support one another when projects don’t get picked up. It’s an amazing group.

Just as Joyce got me started in the business, I have worked with a number of assistants, and some have gone on to an expanded role in the publishing industry. Two have formed small publishing houses that are growing by leaps and bounds: Kristine Pratt founded Written World Communications and Randall Mooney with Crossover Publications. Linda Glaz went from being an assistant to becoming a Hartline agent in her own right; and two, Tammy Barley and Normandie Fischer, became editors at Written World. Jennifer Hudson Taylor is now the in-house publicist at Hartline and is getting her own publicist company established as well.

What does the future hold? We have several hundred submissions out for clients and spend a huge amount of time trying to identify the editor who is a good potential fit for a project. The economy may have a lot to do with the amount of success we can expect to see. Changes in the industry have a lot to do with it as well, and we work hard to keep our clients positioned on the cutting edges of changes that are occurring, particularly with digital books. Change has always been the hallmark of the publishing industry, but I don’t remember a time when it was as pronounced or as fast moving as it is now.


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