FAQ

Categories John is most interested in representing:

Suspense:

Thrillers, military thrillers, espionage, domestic suspense, crime, mysteries, Southern Gothic, character-based commercial series, high-concept suspense.

I look particularly for authenticity, a strong and engaging voice, and, most of all, a singular protagonist who grabs my attention from page one. I look for writers who can work the grey areas, who can create complex characters that are neither all good nor all bad. Immediacy and pacing are important. It helps to have a personal background and credentials that are appropriate to the subject.

Women's, Southern, and Literary fiction: 

Looking for: authors with distinctive voices, who convey a sense of authenticity, and who write with conviction; strong characters, especially those who are resilient in unique ways; and well-constructed plots to keep the pages turning. I am especially interested in those who can bring a fresh take, a different background, voice, style or structure to the page. Books with Western settings are a current interest. Dark humor works for me, and I'd like to see a good romantic comedy. It helps to show that you're developing your craft through workshops or an MFA, and through Web or magazine publication.

Nonfiction:

I am looking for military and sports narratives, participatory journalism, biography, 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.

Touchstone titles (non-client): THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, Michael Crichton, EYE OF THE NEEDLE, Ken Follett, CATHEDRAL, Nelson DeMille, THE BLACK ECHO, Michael Connelly, KILLING FLOOR, Lee Child, TELL NO ONE, Harlan Coben, MYSTIC RIVER, Dennis Lehane, OPEN SEASON, C.J. Box; DURABLE GOODS, Elizabeth Berg, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, John Irving; MIDNIGHT IN CHERNOBYL, Adam Higgenbotham, THEIR LIFE'S WORK: The Brotherhood of the 1970s Steelers, Gary M. Pomerantz.

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 (including domestic suspense, psychological suspense, thrillers, espionage) , book club fiction,  historical fiction (particularly with a suspense element), historical mysteries, mysteries (both cozy and traditional),  Up Lit, and narrative nonfiction.

Narrative nonfiction can cover almost any subject, but food, travel, history,  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:

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING, Delia Owens, THE LIST, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, THE LYING GAME, Ruth Ware, STATION ELEVEN, Emily St. John Mandel, THE DOLLHOUSE, Fiona Davis, SUMMER OF '69, Elin Hildebrand, STARDUST, Joseph Kanon, NOVEMBER ROAD, Lou Berney, THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN, Kate Morton, 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 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, 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 Series:
The Americans, Longmire, Bosch, Jack Ryan, Justified, Lethal Weapon, The Sopranos, Rome, Burn Notice, Rescue Me, Twin Peaks, Blackish, A Football Life, Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown.

Favorite Movies:
Any Given Sunday, Jerry Maguire, Risky Business, Slapshot, The Bourne Ultimatum, Chinatown, Goodfellas, Gladiator, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, The French Connection, Jaws, School of Rock, White Palace, Working Girl.

Interests: I like to cook when I have the time. I am a hockey dad. Favorite teams are the Bruins and Steelers. I enjoy traveling and Kyoto, Quebec City, Prague, the Isle of Iona, and Lake Placid, NY are among my favorite places. I am interested in Russian culture. I like a good cup of coffee. We have two cats, an orange tabby and a Maine coon mix. Currently listening to: The Sonics, Dead Sara, The Record Company, Nathaniel Rateliff, Trombone Shorty, Billy Gibbons.

Personal information and interests for Gail:

When I’m not reading, I’m happiest in my kitchen cooking and listening to The Psychedelic Furs. 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 Better Call Saul. I do needlepoint and love Pinterest.  I always love to learn something new.