It was difficult for me to write this guest blog. Not because I didn’t understand the content of what I wanted to teach you. I’ve been immersing myself in digital publishing for the past two years and have even created a writer’s university and online marketing business from what I learned. It wasn’t because I didn’t have enough to say. I have so much to say on how digital technology is the most disruptive development in publishing since Gutenberg it’s ridiculous. No, it was because digital publishing is evolving and changing and fracturing at such a rapid pace I find I can’t sit down and plot out a course my normal weeks or months prior to the first class because so many huge announcements keep changing the focus and priorities of my knowledgebase.
But I think I have a handle on what I can teach writers next week about where digital publishing has been and is now. I’ll maybe even be able to predict accurately where it will be and when. And if there are ten more earth-shattering announcements that come out between now and March 7th, we’ll just deal with it during comments, questions and answers. Sound good? All right.
My main job in publishing today is as a literary agent who handles adult genre fiction (including romance), as well as young adult and middle grade children’s books. In this role I have been fascinated by the process of selling books to large New York publishers, and sometimes to medium-sized houses or indie presses. However, I come from a different background than many of my colleagues—for 20 years I ran my own highly successful public relations agency in the Silicon Valley and we dealt solely with emerging companies. Some of my former clients you may have heard of: Apple Computer, Adobe Systems, Intuit, Hotmail…and the list goes on and on. We worked with these companies in their formative years to build them into brand names and then hand them off to huge multinational PR conglomerates when they outgrew our size (at the height of the dot com era we still only had 15 agents and one office.) So years later, as a literary agent, when I saw my first demo of Web 2.0 social media such as Twitter and Facebook, and the new breed of ePublishing tools like Smashwords, and Amazon’s then-named DTP service, my old radar picked up a familiar signal and I knew we were witnessing the first blips of a perfect storm for publishing. I recognized that adrenaline rush. And I knew you could either get in the water and surf that wave or be plowed under by its sheer magnitude. I’m a surfer of information from way back, so I dove in. No fear.
I want to share what I’ve learned these past two years, from a literary agent’s perspective, on how digital publishing is changing even a bestselling author’s process and making this the best time ever to be a writer. I also want to educate writers about what to expect from their literary agent in this time of rapid evolution (some might even call it a revolution). It’s not enough any more for an agent to negotiate a deal with one of the big six and call it a day. It’s not enough to go to lunch with your agent once a year at RWA nationals and talk about your career. Things are changing too quickly for that to still be effective and authors need a guide who can help them thrive with all the new opportunities for backlist reissues as eBooks, short fiction sales, writing experimentation, alternate content, online author brand building, blogging, YouTube videos, and much, much more.
So join me for my workshop, The Agent’s Role in Digital Publishing, March 7-14 here at FF&P. I’ll open your eyes to the new publishing paradigm and you can decide whether to sink or swim. I’ll bring the fins and goggles! J
-Laurie McLean, Larsen Pomada Literary Agents
Larsen Pomada Literary Agents
1029 Jones St., San Francisco, CA 94109
At Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents in San Francisco, Northern California’s oldest literary agency founded in 1972, Laurie represents adult genre fiction (romance, fantasy, science fiction, horror, nouveau westerns, mysteries, suspense, thrillers, etc.) as well as middle-grade and young-adult books. She looks for great writing, first and foremost, followed by memorable characters, a searing storyline and solid world building.
For more than 20 years Laurie ran a multi-million dollar eponymous public relations agency in California's Silicon Valley. She is passionate about marketing, publicity, negotiating, editing and a host of other business-critical areas. She is also a novelist herself, so she can empathize with the author's journey to and through publication.
Check out her blog, www.agentsavant.com, for tales of the agenting life, and www.larsenpomada.com for valuable information and links, plus her submission guidelines. Query her at email@example.com.
Laurie is also on the management team of the annual San Francisco Writers Conference, which just completed its eighth year. For further information go to www.sfwriters.org.
And finally, Laurie is the dean of the new non-profit San Francisco Writers University, a social networking hub for writers with online and live classes, at www.SFWritersU.com.