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.
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.
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.