FAQ

Categories John is most interested in representing:

In fiction I am keenly interested in well-crafted novels of suspense, mysteries, thrillers, and crime, as well as literary and Southern fiction, and the emerging category of Up Lit. 

What makes the difference with me? It's the voice; someone who writes with a distinctive voice, who conveys a sense of authenticity, and who writes with conviction. Strong characters, especially those who are resilient in unique ways. And a well-constructed plot to keep the pages turning. The quality of your writing is important, and those with MFAs and who are starting to publish in literary magazines will get an especially close look.

For thrillers, I'm most intrigued when I find a writer who can work the grey areas, who creates complex characters that are neither all good nor all bad, and who can work through some bigger questions with those characters. I am particularly keen to see twisty suburban noir, and books with the feel of Patricia Highsmith and Alfred Hitchcock. Immediacy, pacing, twists and turns, surprises, and style are elements I like to see.

In nonfiction I am looking for military and sports narratives, participatory journalism, and history. I want to see a stance on a given topic, answers to the "why" of the book, perspective, and what I call the "whole life" in terms of biography and history.

If you are not sure if I handle your kind of writing please do send along your query, as I work with 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. 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.

Categories Gail is most interested in representing:

I am looking for wonderful new or established voices in commercial women's fiction, upmarket high concept suspense, historical fiction, historical suspense, historical mysteries, mysteries (both cozy and traditional), romance, Up Lit, and narrative nonfiction.

Narrative nonfiction can cover almost any subject, but history, food, sports 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 commercial fiction, beautifully written. It needs a voice that grabs me and a narrative that keeps me turning the pages. I like original voices. I like quirky novels with dual narrators, settings and time periods. The writing needs to be immediate with well- developed characters that leap off the page and make me feel they are sitting across the table from me, telling their story. I am particularly looking for authors with an MFA who write commercial fiction.
 
Books I love that I wish I had agented:

THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, A.J. Finn
THE LIST, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

STATION ELEVEN, Emily St. John Mandel

THE DOLLHOUSE, Fiona Davis

ALL THE LIGHT I CANNOT SEE, Anthony Doerr
THE PARIS WIFE, Paula McLain
HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, Jamie Ford
BEAUTIFUL DAY, Elin Hilderbrand
MISSION TO PARIS, Alan Furst
THE EYRE AFFAIR, Jasper Fforde
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
THE PIANO TUNER,  Daniel Mason
DON'T LET'S GO TO THE DOGS TONIGHT, Alexandra Fuller
THE RIVER OF DOUBT, Candice Millard
A HOMEMADE LIFE, Molly Wizenberg

What we're not interested in representing:

We do not 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 two-thirds fiction and one-third 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 and interests for John:

Favorite TV Shows:
The Americans, Burn Notice, The Sopranos, Twin Peaks, Blackish, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Last Man Standing, A Football Life, Behind the B, Chopped, Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown and No Reservations.

Favorite Movies:
Any Given Sunday, Jerry Maguire, Risky Business, Slapshot, Chinatown, Goodfellas, The French Connection, Jaws, Working Girl, White Palace.

Interests: I like to cook when I have the time. I am a hockey dad. I am a fan of the Bruins and Steelers. I enjoy traveling and Kyoto, Quebec City, Prague, the Isle of Iona, and Lake Placid are among my favorite places. I am interested in Russian culture and history. I like a good cup of coffee. We have two cats, one of whom says "hello" to me every morning.

Personal information and interests for Gail:

When I’m not reading, I’m happiest in my kitchen cooking and listening to Sinatra. I love history and am a terrific armchair traveler. I’ve always been a Francophile and also have a fascination with Antarctica. Love old movies and binge watch Sherlock. I do needlepoint and love Pinterest.  I always love to learn something new.