Monday, September 17, 2007

BookEnds: The Inside Scoop

Isn’t that what I’ve been giving you all along? An inside look into the world of BookEnds? How we think? Why we make the decisions we do and how you can get your foot in the door? Well, yes, but today I want to give you some details on how BookEnds works. What really goes on behind these closed doors and how we make the decisions we make.

While we call ourselves the BookEnds team and rely very heavily on teamwork and the knowledge and opinions of each other, we also work incredibly independently. BookEnds agents are never required to get “permission” to take on a new author or submit a new project. On the contrary, we can act as recklessly as we want. If one of us discovers something that she absolutely loves and must have, then she is free to make that offer of representation without even telling anyone else. However, more often than not we share information and let everyone know what we’re doing or thinking as it’s happening and, more often than not, we discuss hooks, authors, and the potential marketability of a project before making that offer. And yes, every once in a while we’ll ask one of the other agents (or everyone) to read a proposal or manuscript to hear what they think.

Typically we all work in fairly solitary environments in our own offices. Chatting throughout the day via phone, IM, or in person. Each Wednesday morning we meet for a breakfast meeting. This is where the true cooperative work happens. We discuss submissions that have come in that we’re excited about or questioning. We’ll ask whether others think the hook is strong enough or hear other opinions on second reads (asking someone else to give you another read on something). At these meetings we also discuss market news, trends, interesting information, and lately we’ve been doing a full contract postmortem. In other words, we are reviewing all of our boilerplate contracts to discuss points that need to be changed, altered, or renegotiated, as well as highlighting issues of concerns with various publisher contracts. And yes, there is a different issue of concern with almost every contract.

In talking with other agents through the years I feel very lucky that BookEnds does in fact have a team. I know there are a lot of agents out there who started on their own and I marvel at that. I have depended so much on Jacky and Kim over the years for their advice and guidance on everything from giving a second read to helping mull over questions or concerns I might have on everything from a manuscript to a contract to an author or editor relationship. So while I am very independent in many ways, having the backing of terrific coworkers helps give me the knowledge and strength to be continually better at what I do.

Jessica

9 comments:

Petrina said...

I think it's both scary and exciting that you use a team approach. Scary because the writer has to "pass muster" with more than just one person before they're represented. Exciting because what could be better than having a team on your side...all those wonderful ideas and from different perspectives.

Petrina

Tammie said...

Scary and exciting - great way to describe it petrina. Not only do I have to hold my breath that Kim likes my partial but that the rest of the team doesn't say "what are you nuts?" :o)

But aaahhh to have that team behind you - how can you go wrong!

Christa M. Miller said...

I meant to respond to your last post, when you mentioned how much you enjoy brainstorming. It's clear that it's a crucial part of how you do business. I have to say that I am more excited than scared by the idea of the partnership you 3 have - agenting sounds much like writing, in that regard!

Alli said...

Thanks for giving us some insight into the world of Bookends. It sounds like you all have the perfect arrangement - obviously it's working!

Travis Erwin said...

Sounds like y'all have a great organization. Y'alls authors are bound to come out ahead for having a great team behind them.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing today's post on how you can be a cohesive unit and yet retain your individuality. It takes a special blend of personalities and work ethics to achieve that type of environment successfully. Having read your blogs over the last several months, I have so much respect for you and your agency and hope that one day soon my books will have the privilege of such representation.

Nancy

Kate Douglas said...

I haven't met Jacky, but having observed you and Kim "working," I can honestly say you're having way too much fun at your job!

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for the better part of a year now, and I've got a question I don't think I've seen you address. Say an aspiring writer has an (albeit romantic) notion that there's one agent and one agent only for her. If she's submitted a requested partial and been declined, how long an interval should she allow before querying with a different project? Is there a frequency at which ambition becomes stalking?

Thanks!
Miss Hypothetical

Karen Duvall said...

I love the team concept for an agency. How wonderful that you can bounce ideas off each other, share feedback, brainstorm... that's the beauty of having an agency. I'm in an agency, too, but it's advertising and the teamwork is fantastic.

I've had the pleasure of working with Jacky in the past and she's awesome!!! 8^) And I hope I have an opportunity to work with Jessica in the future. I think Bookends is an terrific agency. Jessica, I really enjoyed meeting you at Colorado Gold in Denver this weekend. I had a great time at the conference (the BEST conference, IMO) and I hope you enjoyed it, too.

Karen (the one with the Gargoyle story)