A few weeks ago we had a nice, long conversion with Sara Megibow of the Nelson Literary Agency about the publishing industry and agenting. In the first part of our interview, Sara had great advice to share with budding writers looking to query her. Here, we’re focusing on the magic behind the author-agent relationship. When an agent and a writer are a good fit, the results reflect that. But how does that partnership begin, exactly? Sara told us about how she started working with Book Country member Michael R. Underwood, who just inked a deal for a new book he previously workshopped on Book Country with David Pomerico at 47North.
I remember when Michael’s query letter came in.
He said, “I have an offer on the table from Simon & Schuster for a novel that was posted on Book Country.” I usually pass on anything that says “I have an offer on the table” as I don’t want to be known as an agent who swoops in to collect an agent fee for an offer I didn’t work for. So, I requested GEEKOMANCY with the full intention of passing on it.
Here’s what happened instead:
Me: <reads> Page One, Paragraph two:
“The owner-manager, Bryan Blin (Strength 14, Dexterity 11, Stamina 15, Will 15, IQ 16, and Charisma 14 – Geek 6/ Barista 3/ Dad 4/ Entrepreneur 3), paid a premium for the location, just a half-block up a side street from one of the main drags in Pearson’s University District.”
My mouth dropped open, a smile exploded on my face and a squeak of happiness might or might not have escaped. Michael’s narrative voice was 100% authentic, fun, unique geek. I’m a geek too – I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons since I was eleven years old and my son got a set of dice for his first birthday. But, in addition to being geek-worthy in the extreme, GEEKOMANCY is also a finely crafted and brilliant book. My response was, “I am absolutely not the literary agent I want to be unless I can work on this story” and after I’d finished the novel, I called Michael to offer representation. I’d be shocked if even 12 hours passed between his submission and my offer. That’s how much I love this book.
In terms of author-agent relationship, I think it’s really just me being a gigantic fangirl and him being a brilliant, motivated and creative author. Okay, there may be a bit more to it than that, but really – I think we get along very well. I got a film co-agent signed on as soon as possible and sold audio rights right away. We work together on marketing and publicity and we worked very hard to come up with his next urban fantasy series called YOUNGER GODS (coming in 2014 also from Simon & Schuster). That process required a ton of faith from him because I basically asked him to jot down any and all ideas and we took the whole pile to his editor and asked, “what’s next?” We went back and forth and back and forth strategizing and I think it paid off. YOUNGER GODS is going to be brilliant.
As an additional note, Michael has praised Book Country repeatedly for its influence on his author career and I agree. Every author’s path to success is different, but I can honestly say in this case that his involvement with Book Country made the difference. Thank you!
About Sara Megibow
Sara has been with Nelson Literary Agency since early 2006. Her first responsibilities included reading query letters, sample pages, and full manuscripts, and she was promoted to Associate Literary Agent in 2009. From sexy romance to epic fantasy, Sara has loved reading since picking up her first copy of The Hobbit. Sara earned a B.A. in Women’s Studies and a B.A. in American History from Northwestern University. She loves to ski, hike, kayak, and hang out with her beat-boxing husband, adorable son, and fuzzy cat. Read about Sara’s submissions, clients, and sales at Publishers Marketplace. Follow Sara on twitter @SaraMegibow. LGBTQ friendly!