So today, November 2, 2016, is the ten year anniversary of the blog. Just writing those words is amazing to me… When I started, I’d just been let go from from my role as an associate publisher at the Time-Warner Book Group, which had been sold to Hachette Livre. It was one of those seasons where I knew I was facing something new and scary — two kids in college, one in high school, new home in Nashville, mortgage payments to make, and suddenly I’m out of a job in my 40’s. I talked with other publishing houses, but I’d worked as an agent for several years before joining Time-Warner, and I knew I wanted to go back to agenting authors. So I talked with friends, and made some moves to set up a new literary agency.
One of the people I talked to was my friend Robert “Dammit” Smith (also known as “The Robert D,” and the guy behind the success of Andy Andrews for the past twenty years). Robert was a big encouragement to me to start the agency, and he had some recommendations… He had been teaming with a bunch of guys who had overlapping gifts, so he suggested I talk with Nick Francis at Project83, who would help me create a company website, and Kevin Burr of Ocular Ink, who would help with the design and logo of everything related to the agency. They helped me launch a great company website. I was also talking with friends I’d made in the industry, including the very wise Michael Hyatt, who told me if I wanted to get the word out there about my new company, I really needed to start a blog.
So I did. It’s been fun to do, and we’ve had good success. Blog posts have been picked up by major media. I’ve had bestselling authors come to visit. Writers Digest magazine named us to their list of “101 Best Websites for Writers” on multiple occasions. Lots of folks in the industry read it. I’ve been able to partner with people like Amanda Luedeke and Sandra Bishop, Erin Buterbaugh and Marie Prys, who all contributed and made the blog better. Indeed, working with those people on this blog has been one of the most fun aspects of the job. We’ve had huge highs (I’ve long considered it a success that we let people know about the shenanigans at Wine Press Publishing), and some lows (I got burned out after posting every day for several years and took an entire year off), but this blog has led to all sorts of friendships and conversations, and I’ve never regretted getting started.
It’s funny to think how my life has changed over the past decade. Ten years ago my kids were in school, and now they’ve gone on to be adults with their own careers — Colin works for a law firm in Seattle and has a daughter of his own; Molly is in the last year of her PhD program, having lived around the world; and Kate has started her own editing company (apples not falling far from trees, apparently). Ten years ago this business was just me, in my spare bedroom, trying to get a new company started — we grew to a company of ten, trained some great agents, and over the past eight years I’ve done more book deals than any other agent in the United States. Ten years ago I was married, living in Franklin, Tennessee, and trying to adjust to country music and red-eye gravy and the NASCAR-like traffic of Nashville — now I’m single, living on the beach in Oregon, and realizing how much I enjoy the quietness of a small resort town in the winter.
The look and feel of the blog has changed, as we moved from TypePad to WordPress, and as we got a new designer to help us give it a fresh look a couple times. I don’t blog every day any more — I started feeling as though I’d said everything I had to say, answered every publishing question at least twice, and didn’t feel compelled to respond to everyone who asked a question any more. But I blog occasionally, enjoy doing a regular series on “ask the agent” questions, try to make sure we get guest bloggers to come on and share their thoughts on occasion, and really enjoy the process of writing stuff and reacting with readers. I used to write books for a living, so this has been my outlet for doing my own writing. My one goal for the future is to use this blog to talk more about the industry as a whole — not just answering questions, but talking a bit more about what’s going on in contemporary publishing, so that those who aren’t on the inside know about the state of the industry.
And I want to mention that, every day, I send up a “thank you” for the people who take the time to read this blog. I appreciate all of you, for reading and responding and participating in a discussion about all of this stuff. Thanks for allowing this one agent to continue having a discussion about books and words, writing and publishing. It’s been fun, and I intend to keep at it. I just wanted to pause and say a sincere thanks to you for reading and commenting.