• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don’t Want To Be Right

Years ago, long before I became an agent, I fixed up three couples, all of whom got married. I didn’t even know any of them particularly well. I just had a “feeling.”  And when things worked out for the happy couples, I applauded my own prescience. (Let the record show that this skill did not extend to my own romantic adventures.)

My point: this same “feeling” applies to agenting. Of all the things the job entails, first and foremost discovering writers,  the next most important decision you make is selecting the editor you are going to submit any given project to. I think this is common knowledge, but in case it isn’t, you can only submit your book to one editor at a publishing company. If that editor passes, it’s a pass for the whole house. You can’t try the editor in the next office over. Your chance with that the publisher is over. So a good agent will have relationships with a few or more editors at every house and have as much hard as well as anecdotal information about each editor with which to target the submission. Writers often ask how we decide which editors to send to. You choose a certain editor over another at a publishing house to submit a project to because :

  • You have a perfectly clear sense of what they are looking for; it has “their name on it,”
  • You have sold them books in the past and you’re tight.
  • You have some inside knowledge from lunch dates about the editor’s  life or taste .
  • You’ve done copious research (i.e. a publishersmarketplace.com search) into their buying patterns .
  • You saw their name on a restroom door at Grammercy Tavern in conjunction with a certain sexual proclivity.

I wonder what’s more difficult these days: getting married or getting published.

8 Responses

  1. Definitely getting published, you can always go to Massachusetts to get married. I relate to the last two bullets. I’ve done copious research on PM, and I think I remember seeing that name when I had brunch with my parents on Irving Place. (Or maybe it’s a different one in the Ladies Room.) This person would definitely be a good match for my novel.

  2. I’ve been divorced for 7 years and will start querying my novel in January.

    I’ll let you know.

  3. I’ve been married twice and published once. So far, being published reminds me more of my first marriage (to the husband who forgot my birthday five years in a row) than the second (to the guy who takes me for long weekends in New Orleans).

  4. I choose editor James Spader in the movie Wolf. Seriously guys, he’s still hot and on Broadway. Seriously hot, seriously . . . excuse me for a minute….

    • He truly is seriously hot in real life…absolutely adorable. Have seen him on Broadway in “RACE” and he is excellent!

  5. They’re the same difficulty in my mind. It’s not the getting, it’s the staying.

  6. The writing and the publishing are as different and necessary for culture as hot sex young tie the knot marriage and middle aged comfort marriage. One creates and the other conserves.

  7. “You can only submit your book to one editor at a publishing company. If that editor passes, it’s a pass for the whole house. You can’t try the editor in the next office over. Your chance with that the publisher is over.”

    Conversely, my former big-house employer encourages multiple submissions across its increasing number (due to downsizing/consolidation) of imprints.

    Perhaps that’s why they’re in the shape they’re in.

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