George Washington, Mystery Drinks, and Publishing
August is typically a sleepy month in publishing, but not for the groups I met with. The agents are getting prepared to pitch like crazy in September, and everyone is prepping for September launches of books they’ve been working on for years. Not every meeting is detailed here for strategic reasons, but I’m grateful for everyone’s time and input. First the agents — I know I’m lucky to get to spend time with such fun, wonderful women.
Caitlen Rubino-Bradway ( LKG Agency ) and I had the yummiest breakfast at Blue Dog Kitchen Bar. Double thumbs up. Caitlin says she definitely sympathizes with writers pitching their manuscripts because that’s how she’s spent much of August — preparing queries to the publishers. She certainly has a sympathetic heart for all the writers and dedicates Fridays for reading submissions.
Meanwhile, they’re looking forward to their client’s winter release by Simon and Schuster: I Hate Everyone, Except You by Fashion Guru Clinton Kelly.
I met Mary South of Lowenstein Associates at her office. Like Caitlen, she is incredibly empathetic to writers working to get a manuscript published. As I did with everyone, I ran through a list of new features we’re considering and she emphatically said she didn’t need an automated reminder because she’s “on the site all the time because I feel guilty if I take too long to get back to the writers.”
I have to tell these stories for the writers who sometimes feel so neglected! I told you we have the best people on this platform. She also impressed me because she moves through the platform faster than I do and I didn’t think that was possible.
Mary’s excited about the great reviews for their Agatha Raisin series that’s now been adapted for television.
Karisa Chappell Koontz (Leshne Agency) and I had drinks in a snazzy bar. The bartender was trying to convince the establishment to add his creation to the menu. I voted yes. It didn’t have a name yet, so I can’t tell you how to order it!
My favorite takeaway from the conversation with Karisa was that she takes submission from AUTHORS.me more seriously than ones that come in email. That’s because (as you writers know) we ask a lot of questions and force writers to really think through their work and organize their material.
Karisa and Lisa Leshne are excited their September release of Julissa Arce’s book My (Underground) American Dream: My True Story as an Undocumented Immigrant Who Became a Wall Street Executive, coming out in September from Center Street Books, an imprint of Hachette Book Group.
Last but not least, totally fun dinner with Renee Fountain (Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary Management) at Fraunces Tavern. She requested a venue change last minute and I loved that her selling point was, “George Washington’s headquarters were upstairs.” It was absolutely worth it and I read the online history all the way home.
Renee seems like an old friend because she’s been with us since early days and even judged the Thriller contest we did with Reedsy. I remember her being fairly dubious of the whole thing at first, but now she’s a true partner. I can run ideas by her which seem great from a technology standpoint and she quickly points out the publishing ramifications that we still need to consider. In a new business, you can’t ask for more than that.
Renee’s looking forward to Kensington’s September release of Danny Johnson’s The Last Road Home.
The trip wasn’t limited to agents. I met with several publishers as well, including multiple imprints at Skyhorse and Hachette (which ended in a fire drill). Many want to see more non-fiction experts on AUTHORS.me and we do too! I also had the pleasure of meeting with data scientists at a couple of the imprints who want to really understand what we’re doing.
I actually got to go shopping with Ashley Graham, founder of hybrid outfit Lift Bridge Publishing. We arrived before the restaurant opened for lunch and had some time to kill in nearby stores. Neither of us have spare moments to go shopping with girlfriends, so I thought it funny that we found ourselves walking through the store and talking while we waited for a table.
While AUTHORS currently matches writers only with traditional publishers, we discussed ways of allowing writers to pursue alternate paths like hybrids if they’re interested. In a recent poll, 30% of our writers were interested in this type of connection, so I’ve been meeting with several well-respected hybrid publishers to see what they can offer our writers.
Once seated, we discussed both her goals moving forward and the different marketing and writing support Liftbridge does for writers. For instance, Ashley hired a bus to take a marketing trip into New York from DC one day. Video of grateful writers here. She also runs online classes for teens who want to be writers.
I thought that sounded like an entire business right there, but she says no, that publishing is their core. The rest just contributes to supporting the writing community.
The writers know better than anyone that getting published is hard, but it’s great to know there are such caring publishing experts waiting for you on the other side.