Categories John is most interested in representing:
In fiction I am most enthusiastic about representing thrillers and suspense of all types, and cozy mystery series. I am actively seeking YA suspense as well. I enjoy and have placed women's fiction and in particular like what might be classified as romantic comedy, both by male and female authors (White Palace being a good example, and films like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding").
In nonfiction I am looking for sports narratives and biographies, history -- particularly military -- and current events. If you are not sure please do send along your query, as I handle a wide variety of topics and am open to many types of manuscripts. A cycle through the cover cascade on the Home Page might help give you an idea of what I like to do, as would clicking on a few of the links on the Client Links page.
There are no absolute necessities except for an author's passion, a desire to develop one's craft, and the goal of communicating through words.
I am most enthusiastic about representing narrative nonfiction, commercial women's fiction, historical fiction, mysteries and romance novels. Narrative nonfiction can cover almost any subject, but history, food, and science are particular interests of mine. Newspaper and magazine experience is helpful; many books are generated from concepts first tried out in articles.
In fiction, I am looking for a voice that grabs me and a narrative that keeps me turning the pages. I like original voices.
What we're not interested in representing:
We do not normally represent children's books, science fiction, fantasy, Westerns, poetry, or screenplays.
Do you charge reading fees?
We do not charge reading fees.
What is the approximate ratio between fiction and nonfiction at your agency?
Right now it's probably about 75% fiction and 25% nonfiction.
How would you describe an ideal client?
Our clients put passion into their writing and are enthusiastic about what they do. They communicate well with their editors and forge strong and responsive relationships with them. They love to read as much as we do, and they're the kind of people you'd enjoy hanging out with.
How and why did you become an agent?
Becoming an agent was a natural progression from being editors. The work is similar, but we're able to spend less time in meetings and more time working with authors. We can also handle a more eclectic range of material, and we get to work with editors throughout the industry who share our passions and enthusiasms.
What if anything can a writer do to increase the odds of you becoming his or her agent?
Put your best efforts into your work and just follow the submission guidelines; we'd love to hear from you.
Do you have any particular thoughts about editors or publishers in general?
Editors are without a doubt the hardest working and most idealistic people in book publishing. Publishers represent the best opportunity for gifted writers to get wide distribution, readership, and money in what is an often difficult business.
Personal information & interests for John:
Favorite TV Shows:
Burn Notice, Family Guy, Everybody Loves Raymond, Family Ties, The Michael J. Fox Show.
HBO: 24/7 The Road to the Winter Classic, NFL: A Football Life.
Any Given Sunday, Jerry Maguire, Risky Business, Chinatown, Working Girl, Notting Hill, Sabrina.
Favorite Commercial & Contemporary Novels and Story Collections (clients excluded): Tell No One, The Town, A Simple Plan, Cathedral, Eye of the Needle, Mystic River, The Andromeda Strain, Clear and Present Danger. The Vintage Crime/Black Lizard reissues of the '80s and '90s. The Book of Joe, Bad Haircut, Monkeys, Inventing the Abbots. The Bridges of Madison County, Love Story, The Notebook.
Desert Island Books: The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and Damned, Collected Stories of John Cheever, Collected Stories of Ernest Hemingway, Collected Nonfiction of Joan Didion. The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings. The Brothers Karamazov.
Nonfiction: First and Last Seasons, The Whore of Akron, Game On, Born to Run, Bobby Orr: My Story.
Personal information and interests for Gail:
Books I love that I wish I had agented:
THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL, Philippa Gregory
THE EIGHT, Katherine Neville
WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, Sara Gruen
SHOGUN, James Clavell
CITY OF SHADOWS, Ariana Franklin
THE PIANO TUNER, Daniel Mason
DON'T LET'S GO TO THE DOGS TONIGHT, Alexandra Fuller
MANHUNT, James Swanson
THE RIVER OF DOUBT, Candice Millard
A HOMEMADE LIFE, Molly Wizenberg
Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents 2010
On Writing by Stephen King
The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
Thinking Like Your Editor, Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato
The following interview with John is courtesy of GalleyCat.com.
Lit Agent John Talbot Has "Experience and Vision"
Literary Agent and Partner at The Talbot Fortune Agency, John Talbot is proud of what he can offer his clients. In this interview he tells us why being an agent is exciting work, why you should always treat each book like it's your first book, and about the single best way to impress an editor.
What is your job title at your agency, and can you tell us why you might be the best agent in the universe?Literary Agent and Partner, The Talbot Fortune Agency LLC. Would never claim to be the best in the universe but can claim to be a great match, and yes, sometimes the absolute best representative, for the clients who choose to work with me and with the agency. Why? 20+ years in commercial book publishing, half that time as an editor and half as an agent, give me the experience and vision to help clients manage careers for the long haul. I also share my decision-making responsibilities with partner Gail Fortune and our sub rights representative Eileen Laverty, both of whom have similar publishing backgrounds. The needs of each client are different and I try to be responsive to each on an individual basis. Likewise I enjoy delivering to editors and sub rights contacts books they can fall in love with, written by clients who take pride in their professionalism. Sometimes what a client needs most to thrive is simply highlighted information, good advice, and a connection with the right editor. Sometimes they need more than that, and sometimes less; a good agent should know when to step in and when to back off. My job is to be an advisor and mediator, to be professional and yet personal with my service, to get the best writing out of my clients, and, most importantly, to convey my passion for their work to our friends on the other side of the desk -- then get the best deals possible. I have plucked "ready made" bestsellers from the slush pile, and I have developed projects from scratch that have earned large advances and significant royalties for my clients. No day is ever the same in this business: experience, judgment, flexibility, contacts, and long-term relationships are crucial. Yet on any given day a sparkling new discovery can land in my in-box and turn everything deliciously upside down. That's why I love this business. Are you psyched about new digital tech like the Kindle and other ebook readers? I love the new technologies. On any given day I'll read from a hardcover, a paperback, my computer, my iPhone, my Kindle, and hard copy manuscripts. Multiple platforms expand the overall marketplace, they put words in more places and in front of more eyeballs. As an agent, you just want to make sure your clients are getting compensated properly for these platforms. Unfortunately also, piracy has become a problem that the entire industry must work to address. What kinds of books are likely to get published? What do editors want to work on right now?</