The agents and editors scheduled to attend PNWA this year

All right, enough prologue-ing about how and why the blurbs provided by conferences about their invited agents and editors tend to be woefully insufficient. On to figuring out what we can learn from them, as well as from other sources.

For those of you who were not yet reading this blog last spring, what I like to do is go through the scheduled attendees one by one, finding out as much information about their professional activities as I can. Then I read their posted blurbs in light of this information, to try to gain as much insight as possible into what kind of books they might be interested in picking up this summer. Then I compress it all here into a pithy little post, for your referencing pleasure.

Why? To make it easier for readers who are planning to attend the PNWA conference to pick which agents and editors would be the best fit for their books — and rank them accordingly. (The PNWA, like many conferences, tries to match attendees with their preferred targets as often as possible, so their registration form will ask you to list your appointment choices in order of desire.)

But since this information is undoubtedly useful for anyone thinking about querying these people, it should make for interesting reading for those of you not planning to attend as well.

I will be presenting these agents and editors in alphabetical order, just so you know, not ranked in any sort of hierarchy of excellence or interest, and over enough days’ blogs to justify the length of time it took to track the information down. (The research is seriously time-consuming, enough so that at the end of last year’s binge, I swore I would never do it again. However, readers really loved it last year, so…)

Please note, though: what I will be presenting here is my impression of these people’s book preferences, based upon information available from various publishing industry resources and what I have heard on the quite extensive publishing grapevine. This is not intended to be an authoritative overview, nor the last word on these people. In fact, I would actively encourage you to do your own additional research on any agent or editor you are considering approaching.

Please be aware, too, that the sales and acquisition info I’ll be passing along here is from the standard publishing databases, which are not always entirely up-to-date or totally accurate. Not all agents routinely report their sales to Publishers Marketplace, for instance.

Kindly remember as well that any list of sales will reflect only those clients for whom these agents have actually sold books, rather than their entire client lists, which may not give a truly representative (so to speak) picture.

All of this is beyond my control, I tell you. Stop poking me with that sharp stick.

One last thing: as I mentioned yesterday, I shall not be covering every agent and editor scheduled to attend PNWA, just the ones who did not attend last year. You may find my last year’s write-ups on the returnees in the clearly-marked category at right.

Do be aware that even including these, we may not end up with a complete list of the ultimate attendees. It is far from uncommon for agents and editors (particularly editors) to bow out of conference commitments at the last minute. Happens all the time, in fact, and I’ve literally never heard of a conference’s refunding a registrant’s money because the agent of his dreams cancelled his trip.

Yes, it’s unfair. It is also entirely beyond my control, so please do not ask me to predict possible switches or complain to me if this happens at PNWA this year — or any other year, for that matter. (Contrary to popular belief, I have absolutely no pull at the PNWA — my almost year-long tenure as their website’s Resident Writer earned me precisely diddly-squat plus the opportunity to teach my how to pitch class again this year.)

Okay, all of those disclaimers out of the way, let’s see what we can learn from our first glance at this year’s crop of agents and editors.

Fewer repeats than I had anticipated: of the agents who came last year, the returnees are (in alphabetical order) Jennifer Cayea, Catherine Fowler, Michelle Grajkowski, Kate McKean, Rita Rosenkranz, and Alice Volpe, all of whom I profiled last year.

What, if anything, can we read into the fact that they plan to return? Well, there are two likely explanations. First, they could have been impressed with the quality of the talent they found at last year’s conference, and are eager to tap that pool of talent again. Or — and this happens more often than writers tend to think — they could have a brother, sister, boyfriend, girlfriend, child, college roommate, etc., who lives in the greater Seattle area, and want to use the conference as an excuse to make a tax-deductible visit.

Is this the right place to deny any knowledge of that pervasive local rumor about the VERY influential agent who used to come to PNWA every year because his mistress danced with the Pacific Northwest Ballet? If such a person existed, and if he stopped making the trip west after they broke up, I know nothing about it.

Assuming that all of the returnees are on the up-and-up, however, it would be very useful to know if any of them actually signed any writers they met at PNWA last year, as it would give a rather solid sense of how serious they are about picking up clients at conferences. Someone might want to ask them that at the agents’ forum, in fact.

Please don’t depend upon me to ask this question during the forum — I shall not be in the room. I go to the conference to run the Pitch Practicing Palace, which will ONLY be operating on Thursday, the first day of the conference, this year. (I.e., not on either of the days when attendees would be pitching.)

I know, I know: it was not my decision. (See my earlier comment about my not having any pull at the PNWA.)

Some of the agencies that send representatives every year are sending someone again, just different people; in a way, this is actually better for the writers who attend every year, since it prevents the rather awkward problem of pitching the same book to the same agent or editor twice. Loretta Barrett Books is sending Nick Mullendore this year, instead of Loretta Barrett; Folio is sending Scott Hoffman, instead of last year’s {name removed at agent’s request; for explanation, please see post of May 10, 2006, when I originally wrote about him}, and Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (DGLM, the agency that represents me) is sending Jim McCarthy, instead of Lauren Abramo. And Elizabeth Wales, although she skipped last year, has been a regular feature at PNWA for years.

It’s worth paying attention when an agency commits to sending a representative year after year: it speaks well of the conference, or at any rate of the agency’s perception of the conference. It implies that the recidivist agencies believe that the conference, or at least its ambient writing community, prepares its writers well for entering the professional sphere.

Or, if you’re cynical, it implies a grateful recognition of the conference location’s ability to attract such affection-generating relatives, friends, and lovers for agents to visit. Either way, these people are coming out from New York (for the most part), and you will be able to pitch to them.

Sometimes, though, agencies will send representatives to a particular conference year after year because they have a specific interest in that region of the country — and if that’s the case, any of you who write novels set in the Pacific Northwest will DEFINITELY want to pitch to them. So it well worth asking agents from these repeatedly-sending agencies whether the agency picked up any new clients at this conference last year, or within the last couple of years, and why.

(See comment above about the probability of my being in the room to ask that question for you.)

My point is, agents seldom show up at a conference randomly. Good agents want to attend conferences where they will meet good writers, and repeat attendance is the primary way that agencies show where they think their representatives are most likely to attain that end.

So think about what we have learned just from glancing over the list of attending agents: of the 17 scheduled, 10 either attended the conference last year, have in the past, or work for agencies that have sent agents here before. That implies a certain industry faith in the level of writing talent PNWA attracts.

And that, my friends, is why I broke my last year’s vow not to profile its attending agents and editors again. It’s a well-respected conference.

Okay, so there’s a sentimental reason I do it, too: I landed MY agent at PNWA. With a pitch. So I know from the very best possible authority that it is possible to pull off.

Details on individual agents follow, of course. In the meantime, keep up the good work!

2 Replies to “The agents and editors scheduled to attend PNWA this year”

  1. Anne,

    Question: I am going to the London Book Fair in 2 weeks. They have an online request for a meeting form with agents/editors. Should I just put in ‘book pitch – genre’ or should I include a hook or what?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *