On the Menu: A Literary Agent for the Digital Age

“E-Readers are going to be one of the major, hot holiday items,” AgencySpy editor Matt Van Hoven said this morning while introducing the Mediabistro Morning Media Menu podcast. “And publishing right now is going through a whole lot.”

With that in mind, Matt and co-host Jason Boog of GalleyCat welcomed literary agent Karen Gantz to the Menu today. They spoke to Gantz and her business partner Dr. Joyce Starr about how their work has evolved in the digital age. Broadly, the shift towards digital projects has led Karen and Joyce to take on fewer clients and offer more tailored coaching to writers.

But, they have still managed to attract big-name authors, like Alec Baldwin, who wrote a book about divorce and family court law, A Promise to Ourselves, last year. “Every publisher wanted him to do a tell-all kind of book about his ex-wife, and he would have gotten major, major six figure numbers for that book,” Karen said. “But he’s a very loyal and honorable kind of person and he really wants to change society. That is one of his goals.”

Although it was easy to get Baldwin a book deal, he was a special case, Karen said. Today, it’s much harder for authors to get deals than it was even five years ago. But Karen works with her clients to help create a project that will be attractive to publishers. “We do much more coaching than ever before,” she said. “And giving people ideas about how to present their ideas.”

Also discussed: why working with a small literary agency like Karen’s can work to an author’s advantage; the ways contracts are changing in the industry; the benefits of working with an agency and how to find one to represent you.

You can learn more about the work of Karen and Joyce here and here.