Monday, July 03, 2006

Location, Location, Location--Bah Humbug!

“Indiana? How does that work?”

This was a writer’s startled response at a conference we attended last year. Our answer was and is, “It works rather well, thank you!” In fact, it works so well that we can pocket the bundle that we save each month in office space costs, which affords us the luxury of being able to work with properties from new authors and those that can be considered harder sells. And what do we lose being SO FAR from Manhattan? Absolutely nothing. We are only a phone call or e-mail away from every editor we work with—the same distance every other agent is. The only thing hampering us is attitude—writer attitude. We have sold books to many publishers inside and outside of New York City. To be clear, we don’t specifically seek projects for New York. We look for projects that our contact editors across the United States and overseas say they are looking for, and we cannot represent, successfully, what they are not looking for. Period.

We are posting this because it is July 4th, our Independence Day here in the US, and it seems a good time to reflect on how fortunate we are to live in the United States. Living in a country like this has allowed us to grow our agency and know success in a business we enjoy. This would be impossible in many other countries in the world. The only drawback is the attitude of people who somehow think that being located between NYC and LA is a drawback. It is anything but that. Being in the middle of Indiana, in the Midwest, puts us in the middle of everything.

Kokomo, Indiana, is a little over 100 miles south of Chicago, the third largest city in the U.S. Many folks who commute to work in New York City travel that far on a daily basis, as do workers in Los Angeles or just about any major city in the world. Our office is 28 miles from the outskirts of Indianapolis, which is number twelve on the largest cities list. But what matters most here is that both Indianapolis and Chicago boast magazine and book publishers, some of which are the largest in the industry, and in the world.

It has mystified us from the time we started our agency that writers are consistently freaked out about our location, when the only folks who should be concerned are editors we work with, and they don’t care one way or the other as long as we send them great books. No editor has ever remarked on our location. Ever. But lots of writers have.

If we get the best that you can write, we can have success with it. Daily, editors from major houses tell us what they are seeking, and the only thing that keeps us from finding and representing more of those projects is the misconception that experienced literary agencies outside of New York City or LA are somehow out of touch with editors at major houses. These are the same major houses that are moving imprints inward to serve the readers in the area where we happen to reside. Ka-ching!

Agency location does not a great book make. It takes talented writers and editors brought together by a discerning agent, and most importantly, it takes readers searching for the most entertainment value for their dollar.

On a final note: Happy 4th of July and thanks to our service personnel overseas. Good luck and Godspeed.


James Goodman said...

Happy 4th of July to you good folks as well.

It's sad to think that people would be biased by your location. You have a track record and it's apparent that you approach your job with passion and enthusiasm, that should be all that matters. If the location bothers them, fine let them seek representation elsewhere and count yourselves lucky not to have accepted such an obvious headache for a client. That kind of remark just reeks of high maintenance.

Rene said...

But L.A. is so cool! We have the beach, we have the mountains, we have Disneyland, we have the Angels...well, we'd rather not have the Angels right now...but I guess that really doesn't have anything to do with literary representation.

In this age of email and phones and faxes, I can't imagine it is all that necessary to be in the same geographical area as the publishers. I know my hubby has clients he's never talked to talk about seen. Some of his clients aren't even in this country. But the job gets done anyway.

I don't know how these NYC agents can afford the office space.

Manic Mom said...

From a midwestern gal herself, thanks for this info! I'm adding you to my favorites and sending a query!

Anonymous said...

NYC agents CAN'T afford the office space. That's why if you do your homework you'll notice so many in the same location. Kind of like an agent dorm?

As long as an agent has the experience and the connections, why does it matter?

Anonymous said...

Why not Indiana? I'm within an hour of Kokomo and have a 4 bedroom, 3 bath home, with a full finished basement, in a great area with a lovely wooded lawn that I purchased this spring for a whopping...$150,000!

No I did not forget a zero.

Anonymous said...

While I couldn't agree more. I am also from the Midwest, the great state of Minnesota and wouldn't even think of living anywhere else. Maybe over the winter months, but that is it. You can't beat the spring, summer or fall in the midwest.