About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

An Anniversary Musing, #1

  It was 25 years ago today that I started at the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, and here's a glimpse at the hardcover cover of the very first book I sold, Mary's Grave by Malcolm McClintick. Scott Meredith had a reading fee service, and this novel was what was called a "send-up," a book that a fee reader liked enough to suggest it be taken on. The author had a story or two published in Hitchcock's, and this was the first in a series of novels featuring the George Kelso character who also appeared in some of the AHMM stories. The book was published quickly, in the first half of 1987, and subsequently appeared in paperback from Avon. The acquiring editor at Doubleday was Michelle Tempesta, the long-time editor of the Doubleday Crime Club, and at Avon the editor who took the first three Kelso books was Nancy Yost. When the Doubleday family sold Doubleday to Bertelsmann, the German conglomerate which had owned Bantam Books and which now owns the entire Random House publishing empire in the US, the library-oriented hardcover lines at the old-line Doubleday, which included a small sf program edited by Pat LoBrutto as well as a western and romance imprint, were all terminated. My relationship with Malcolm did not last long. I was not very diplomatic or tactful in my publishing youth, not very much at all, and Malcolm was not the easiest author do deal with, and after a blow-up he ended up getting switched to another agent at Scott Meredith. Avon lost interest in publishing category mysteries, and Nancy Yost ended up establishing her own literary agency, which has endured nicely with a good list of mystery, romance, paranormal, and other categories.

There used to be several library-oriented lists like Crime Club. Charlaine Harris stopped at the Walker and Scribner mystery lists along the way to Sookie Stackhouse. Walker got out of the mystery business, and when Scribner was sold to Simon & Schuster the same kind of thing happened as when Doubleday was sold to Bertelsmann, the larger company preferring to place bigger bets instead of relying on smaller trickles of reliable income. Today Avalon Books still has a library-oriented hardcover publishing program in the mystery, western and romance genres, and Five Star Books popped up to serve the market as well, this series packaged by Martin H. Greenberg's Tekno Books for publication.


Jim C. Hines said...

Congratulations on 25 years, Joshua!

Eugene said...

Happy anniversary, Joshua! Looking forward to many exciting things for the agency in the next quarter century.