Agent and Packager Jackie Meyer was the vice president/creative director at Warner Books, where she was responsible for 450 book jackets a year. Now, armed with her expertise in marketing and packaging, she has formed her own literary agency and packaging company. In our interview with her today, she discusses exactly what she’s looking to represent, her love for the iPad, and when authors may be better off self-publishing.
What is your job title? And why are you the best agent that you know?
“Agent/Packager” My humility is such that I cannot answer that question. I must be doing something right because my authors have sent me flowers, gifts from Tiffany’s and the loveliest “thank you” notes. One client insisted I take a third of all income; he said, “you deserve it.” I feel grateful to do what I love in an industry that I respect.
First of all, can you tell us a little something about yourself?
You’ve stumped me; I am an open book. Okay. I started my career in New York as a celebrity photographer. I shot Michael Jackson backstage at Madison Square Garden. He was the sweetest celebrity I ever met, and I have met thousands.
How do you feel about digital publishing technologies, and how are they changing publishing?
Love it! I can’t wait to get an iPad. I think the younger generation will return to reading books due to the ease and cost.
Print will survive; it’s just another flavor. The pricing models have to be fair. Publishers need to make sure authors are compensated. We are at a tipping point where authors may be better off self-publishing.
How do you weather today’s downturn in the industry? What preparations have you made, and what do you suggest that your authors make to avoid an all Ramen noodle diet?
My expectations are in check, so I have always been braced for economic challenges. I am constantly learning and evolving; it’s what gets me up in the morning. I diversify my projects.
If authors are eating Ramen, then the agents are surviving on the broth. We keep our overhead minimal. Authors and agents have to be marketers in their own right.
What books are editors looking for now and what would you like to see more of at your agency?
For me what’s not hot, are books in the tradition of Eat, Pray, Love. I received 30 queries between 5am and 8am this morning. What editors are looking for are great manuscripts with benefits. Platforms baby. I love books that are useful in my life.
How should one of these authors get in touch with you? Any pet peeves to watch out for?
E-mail is the greatest. I wish authors would consult books on the elements of a good book proposal before they write to us. Naming conventions: never name a file attachment “manuscript.” Are you kidding me? (lol)