Saturday, February 09, 2013

An Insider's Look at Book Publishing

At 92 years young, Sterling Lord is a living legend among the publishing community for his work as a New York literary agent. LORD OF PUBLISHING provides an intimate look at his work with some bestselling authors like children’s writers Stan and Jan Berenstain or novelist Dick Francis.

Early in the book, he details his decision to become a literary agent saying, “The agent has to know good writing and what is a good, interesting-to-the-publisher idea not only in order to judge what he can sell and what he can’t, but also because often writers tried and untried will seek his advice. And he must know what to tell them. An agent is successful if he can attract and hold effective writers; these are two different talents. You have to know and understand the lives and problems of writer and devise how to help them with their lives.” (Page 40-41)

I appreciated Lord’s honesty and transparency when he writes in some of the final pages, “Although I’m immersed in literature and the art of the book, and enjoyed the personal and professional rewards that came with being an agent, I recognized that the literary agency, like other businesses, has to its peaks and its valleys. Perseverance helps. While I am better known by the bestsellers I helped launch, I did not always have an easy time convincing publishers of the value of the manuscripts I was selling.” (Page 288)

There are many valuable insights and lessons for writers, editors and other literary agents in the book business. I enjoyed reading LORD OF PUBLISHING.

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