Okay, however busy I am, I’ve got to blog about this one.
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A couple of months ago Ellen Horan called AR&E to get some advice. Happens I answered the telephone (very rare – the line rings in my office, but I work at home so seldom am the one to answer it). Thus I was the one who heard the story. She had written a debut novel, an historical mystery called 31 Bond Street, and junior agents at two quite good firms – one, however, not good for fiction – had gotten in touch with her after seeing a big chunk of the book. Both expressed enthusiasm and asked to see more. More back and forthing followed with each. Including a meeting with one. Now she was, she told me, conflicted about which of the two to go to for representation.
Neither I told her immediately.
She obviously had a hot property and junior agents were simply not going to be in a position to get her the best possible deal. Anyone can sell a terrific book. How well they sell it is frequently a matter of how much experience the agent has. And the agency that was good for fiction was not prepared to promise her that one of their senior agents (in fact I told her which one she should have) would actually represent her.
I went into huckster mode. You need our Customized Fingerprint I told her. Then I’ll give you chapter and verse on the seven or so agents you should go to with this, and tell you exactly why, how to go, and how to distinguish between them. Trust me, I insisted, who the agent is and how they do the negotiation is enormously important. ”Money,” Ellen said, “was tight.” She had made enormous sacrifices to cut out the time to write this book, and while she knew our fee was probably worth it, she couldn’t see her way clear to making a further financial commitment. After all, there were those two other agents… I pressed her (Bill and I really care about our clients, but this is, after all, a business). In the end she made the investment.
After she sent back the questionnaire and we talked more about the book, I produced a report with Marly Rusoff my top pick for her. It’s now less than two weeks since that contact was made and Marly - who did everything right - has just done a deal for a cool million with HarperCollins, who pre-empted Marly’s auction to get the 31 Bond Street plus one more. World English rights, so Ellen has translation rights sales to look forward to as well. And Lynn Pleshette has the movie rights.
Pretty good investment of $369.00, no? (But bear in mind the stipulation above: an absolutely terrific book.)