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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Agent Michael Bourret and Author James Dashner: Top Secret Publishing

Warning: this post written while high on paint fumes (so Michael and James are even funnier)
*wiping the paint off my fingers*
*sitting on a drop cloth*

As promised, here's the first of my LDStorymakers Class Notes: Top Secret! The Top Ten Secrets of Agents, Editors, and Publishing

Michael Bouret is a hugely successful agent at Dystel and Goderich representing MG, YA, and adult novels and memoirs. He represents Sara Zarr, Lis McMann, Heather Brewer, James Dashner, Scott Savage, and many more (6 clients are LDS)  For more details on Michael visit the DGLM Website and his Lit Rambles Spotlight.

This class was hilarious with Michael talking and James constantly stealing the microphone and including his two cents. It was seeing the author/agent relationship that made the class for me.
 I didn't recognize James when he stood up to introduce Michael. "Who's the guy doing the intros," I asked the nice-looking girl sitting beside me. She choked on her decaffeinated beverage and her opinion of me plummeted. "That's James Dashner," she said. I heard loud and clear, though she didn't say it, "And he's practically a god." I could have told her her I'd read his Mazer Runner series, but I could tell I had already fallen since I didn't recognize him instantly.

Okay, to the notes before I start typing complete nonsense.

1. Agents are people too
    So don't text/call them on the weekend. Michael read one of James' Saturday texts
2. Publishing is much smaller than you think
    Don't talk mean about ANYONE
3. Agents read on their free time
    1st: client material
    2nd: Requested material
    3rd: Queries
4. Agents and editors don't like saying no
    We like helping people share their stories. Queries=PROOF of MS. make short and sweet. Tell us about your book, who you are, and if you were referred
5. There is no one measure for success in publishing
    don't base on $$, best sellers etc.
6. There is never a THERE is the publishing world-it will just keep moving
     Once I have a book deal I'll be a success. No, once I sell x number of copies I'll be a success. Once I'm on the NYT best sellers list, etc. the carrot dangling out of our reach.) Think long game. Control your goals, but enjoy your career. Grab onto the dang carrot and be happy where you are-this is the paint talking, not Michael
7. People think publishing is about who you know, but the best way to get published is to write a great book and get it out there.
   True networking--not using other people--is the best way to go.
8. The ability to revise and accept criticism is more important than the ability to write.
    The best writers he knows are great revisers (he mentioned the brilliant Sara Zarr here). James Dashner warned to be careful of critique groups because they can be dangerous to your confidence and writing.
9. You are your own best advocate.
     No one cares about your book more than you do (except maybe your mother) Ask questions, understand how everything works. Clients who get the most from me are the ones that ask the most of me.
10. There are no secrets.
      If you are proactive you can find out pretty much anything.

From Q and A:
On agent match: interview agent. Just because only one offer, be confident enough to only take it if it's right. Relationships are different with every client.
On NA: He thinks the label will eventually fade away.
On Goodreads: Root of all evil. To which James told us, "If I read a book and I love it. I tweet about it and put it up on my blog. If I hate it, I don't mention it at all."
If you want to keep up to date in publishing world: Try PW Children's Bookshelf and Shelf Talker

  • If I'm amazing they'll be another Class Notes The WIP it Good bloghop on Friday.
  • Next week I'm spotlighting a book each day. I'm taking James Dashner's advise and blogging about the books I love. It just so happens that the last 5 books I read are gold. (3 of them I picked up at Storymakers) 
  • A new blog Sporty Girl Books is launching June 1st. I'm thrilled to be one of their creaters and hope you will check it out, contribute, and help us grow. We're starting off the blog with a tribute to our favorite sporty reads and a massive giveaway.

*the paint is taking over*
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  1. There's definitely magic with Michael and his clients. They produce amazing books!!!

  2. What are you painting??? I'm so glad you posted this. I missed this class and it sounded like a great one. Michael seemed like an amazing person and fantastic agent.

    1. We're repainting the kids' rooms. We're almost done turning the boy room from Smurf Blue to antique beige. Next up is turning the hot pink room to the same boring neutral color. What fun, right?

  3. I'm so glad you posted this! I really wanted to go to that class :)

  4. Sounds like an awesome class. And looking forward to hearing about the books you love.

  5. I'll admit, I wouldn't have recognized James Dashner either, so don't feel bad.

    Those two sound like a great team.

  6. It sounds like it was a wonderful class -- and fun, too! And I think all those tips are very much on the mark.