Monday, April 23, 2018


This past weekend, I attended the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. It’s by far the biggest book fair in the country, showcasing the works of wordsmiths from around the USA and the world. For two days each spring, it overtakes the entire campus of the University of Southern California. As a literary agent, I enjoy the networking opportunities there.

This year, for the first time, I also attended the annual book prizes ceremony that takes place the night before. Recent years have seen a growing demand for diversity in our business, and I was delighted at what I found: The field of nominees, and of winners, was about as diverse as anyone could ask: They were male and female, young and old, gay and straight. White, black, Latino, Chinese, and Pakistani. Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and probably more.

Monday, March 5, 2018


So. You’ve been working on that book for ten years now. You’ve submitted it to dozens or hundreds of agents and publishers, without success. Sometimes they say no, but often they say nothing at all. Or even worse: They ask to read your full manuscript (yippee!!), and then return with a brutal critique and rejection. I know the struggle, the sting, the existential wound.

For the calendar year 2017, the American book industry produced about a million titles. That’s right: ONE MILLION! That’s an all-time high, which means that the market is more competitive than it has ever been. And you need to work harder than ever, to score that coveted publishing contract

Where do you go from here? How do you stay motivated? If you want to turn those lemons into lemonade, you can gain a fresh perspective by starting here:

Thursday, February 8, 2018


With this entry, we welcome our new associate agent Michelle S. Lazurek. She will bring a fresh perspective, with an occasional contribution to this blog.

When I began my writing career in 2009, I felt like a fish swimming upstream in a lake of mature writers. They were all so much farther along in their careers than me. I thought I’d never catch up! But then something happened that placed me on the trajectory for success: I joined a writers’ group. I’ve been in groups where every attendee was a novice, and other groups where multi-published authors intermingled with newbie writers. In every experience, I have grown and stretched as a result. Here are three reasons why a writers’ critique group is so important to your success as a writer:

Monday, December 18, 2017


So. The publishing business has undergone a sea change. You can get published without a publishing company. You can buy or sell books without a bookstore. Literary agents are going the way of the dodo. New business models have turned the business upside-down, and old-fashioned publishing is dead. Right?

Not even close. The business has not changed as much as you think. And the things that have changed, have little to do with what you need to know and do to succeed as a writer. 

Here’s what is truly new: Ebooks, POD, and online sales. That’s about it. Yes, they’re huge. Yes, they move a lot of books. No doubt, your buyers have more options for how to buy and read what you’ve written. But it's just that: it's about consumer choices. The real impact for you as a writer, is far less than you may think. In fact, these things can make your task harder, not easier. We'll get back to that in a moment.

Friday, September 22, 2017


This morning, I received an email from a frustrated writer who I met at a conference last year. Her story wasn’t right for me, but she did eventually sign with an agent. And this agent recently found her a decent deal with a major publisher. Normally this would be cause for rejoicing, but today she’s feeling overwhelmed. Her question:

I wanted to self-publish my book, but you told me that I should wait to find an agent and a traditional publisher. Now that I’ve done so, my agent and editor have given me a to-do list a mile long. They want me to rewrite my book, build a website, get onto social media, form a marketing plan, solicit endorsements, and a dozen other things. If I had self-published my book, it would already be on the market by now. What have I gained by following your advice?

Well, first, I don’t tell anyone what they should do. If you ask my advice (and only if you ask), I will review options with you and discuss the good and bad of each. Based on your situation, I might suggest a specific course. But only you can decide what you will do.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


This morning I found a long rant in a LinkedIn group, about a national magazine that doesn't pay all of its writers. How evil! I suggested an easy solution to this problem: If they won't pay, you don't submit there. Problem solved.

Of course, this answer won't satisfy many aspiring authors. They want the byline, to be sure, but they also want the validation that only a paycheck can bring. I get it. But there's a bigger picture here that most won't even consider.

Me, I've worked for free many times over the past 12 years. Every free gig has gained me recognition. Followed by multiple paid gigs. I've also had my blog posts lifted more than a dozen times (once by a national news magazine), without permission or payment. And in every case, those rotten thieves left my name on it, and a link back to my blog. With this, I gained tens of thousands of new viewers. (Google Analytics tells me so.) Some of them called me to offer paid work. Among that humber, some became repeat customers who then sent me referrals. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


At the age of eight, I learned to swim at a Boys’ Club in Hollywood. My instructor, Ron Friscia, continued to be my mentor for several years. At sixteen, I took a class with the Red Cross to be certified as a WSI (Water Safety Instructor.) With this credential, I could secure gainful employment as a teacher, lifeguard, or coach. It seemed like a dream, to spend my days around a pool. Or a beach. And legions of pretty girls in skimpy suits. And get paid for it! What more could a young man ask for?

But then I did my research, and a hard dose of reality hit me: The career path for a WSI is very uncertain. The pay is lousy, and most jobs are part-time and seasonal. Beach duty pays more, and Baywatch made it look easy, glamorous, and sexy. But the work is grueling, and brings with it an elevated risk of skin cancer. Any long-term advancement would likely require extensive travel or even outright relocation.