“Agent Advice” (this installment featuring agent Frank Weimann of Folio Literary Management) is a series of quick interviews with literary agents and script agents who talk with Guide to Literary Agents about their thoughts on writing, publishing, and just about anything else. This series has more than 170 interviews so far with reps from great literary agencies. This collection of interviews is a great place to start if you are just starting your research on literary agents.
This installment features Frank Weimann of Folio Literary Management. The founder of the Literary Group International since 1986, Frank and LGI joined Folio Literary Management in July 2013 as Senior Vice President and Director of Operations. He has worked with celebrities, athletes, and novelists, as well as Pulitzer, Caldecott, and Nobel Prize winners, and his client list has included Joe Bonanno, Larry Bird, Terry Bradshaw, Bill Russell, Britney Spears, Gregg Allman, Sammy Hagar, Maria Menounos, Rodney Dangerfield and Nancy Grace. In addition to book sales, he has optioned and licensed numerous titles for film and merchandise, including October Sky, Flags of Our Fathers, and I Heard You Paint Houses.
He is seeking: Narrative and prescriptive nonfiction, memoir, military, history, diet & fitness, science, as well as young adult. He does not seek: Poetry, screenplays, or YA paranormal
GLA: How/why did you become an agent?
FW: To put it briefly, I tried to write someone’s book and the publishers loved the person’s story and hated my writing! So I found a good collaborator and the book got published. In fact, Out of Control by Thomas Henderson became an instant bestseller.
GLA: What’s something you’ve sold that comes out now/soon that you’re excited about?
FW: There are three titles that I am particularly excited about. Being Oscar by Oscar Goodman (Weinstein), which came out at the end of May (2013), is the story of one of the most outspoken, flamboyant defense lawyers of all time from the man himself. After representing organized crime biggies like Meyer Lansky, Nicky Scarfo, and “Lefty” Rosenthal, Oscar went on to run for mayor of Las Vegas—and won. So many great stories here, whether it’s Oscar defending a Mafia don successfully or making an appearance as himself on Scorsese’s Casino—mix yourself a gin-and-tonic (Oscar prefers Bombay Sapphire) and pick this book up. You’re in for a wild ride.
Second, Unbreakable: My Story, My Way by Jenni Rivera (Atria). Jenni was a talented and beloved Mexican American singer in the male-dominated banda and norteño music scene who died in a tragic plane crash in December 2012. She had been working on her memoir, Unbreakable, for several years. It will be simultaneously published in English and Spanish.
Last but not least is Lil BUB’s Lil Book: The Extraordinary Life of the Most Amazing Cat on the Planet by Lil Bub and her owner Mike Bridavsky (Gotham). Lil Bub is a celebricat, a “perma-kitten” who looks a little different than other felines, but her tiny size, toothless mouth, and extra toes have made her the darling of cat lovers around the world. This photo book tells of how she came to Earth from another planet and instantly became “the cutest cat in the world” according to Good Morning America.
GLA: Besides “good writing,” and “voice,” what are you looking for right now and not getting? What do you pray for when tackling the slush pile?
FW: There’s plenty of room for tried and true concepts, but writers need to realize that writing to a certain trend, like dystopian, isn’t enough to net them a book deal. Unfortunately, we read a lot of writing that is solely trying to capitalize on these trends.
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GLA: One of your many areas of interest is memoirs. Can you tell us a little bit about what draws you to these projects?
FW: I’ve always loved a first-person account of a great story. A good one has the power to draw me in and keep me reading from cover to cover.
GLA: Going along with that, what is the market like for memoirs these days? Do you see this changing at all?
FW: The market for memoirs remains strong. I don’t see this changing in the near future. The market will continue to flourish as long as book buyers can find memoirs that are uplifting, tell the inside story of an event, provides an escape, that allows them to go for an adventure with the narrator or find someone with whom they can identify.
GLA: Your agency website says you accept all fiction and nonfiction. Does this include young adult and middle-grade works? Chapter books and picture books?
FW: We have represented every age group; our authors range from Caldecott award-winning picture book author Laura Seeger (First the Egg) to internationally bestselling middle-grade author Michael Scott (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel) to avid equestrian and mayoral daughter Georgina Bloomberg (The A-Circuit). Right now, we are taking on very few picture books and are especially interested in middle-grade.
GLA: Even though your tastes are quite extensive, are there any areas or subgenres you tend to shy away from?
FW: Do I read erotica personally? No. Will I sell it? Yes, and I have. Hollywood Hook (Pocket) is a recent example that comes to mind. I don’t limit myself to specific genres: if the writing is of quality and the project is commercially viable, I will take it on. The only projects I don’t consider are poetry and screenplays.
GLA: What is the most common query mistake you’d say you encounter?
FW: That’s an easy one. “Dear Sir or Madam”; “Dear Ms. Weimann” ; “Dear Agent” or having a different agency name on the cover letter. Those queries get tossed in the trash immediately—I never read further. Why should I take my time to look over someone’s query when they haven’t taken the time to do their research? You wouldn’t believe how often writers do this, and it never fails to annoy me.
GLA: What is the worst proposal faux pas you’ve seen in recent history?
FW: An author’s platform is so crucial these days—publishers want authors to self-promote as much as possible. Biggest faux pas? Including a marketing section that reads, “Author is willing to participate in publisher’s promotional efforts.” Sorry, but that’s not going to cut it.
GLA: What is absolutely essential for writers to have in terms of platform when they approach you? For instance, when you Google them, what are three things you automatically like to see?
FW: While the author does not need to be a household name, I like to see that the author has been active in establishing themselves as experts in their fields (to be clear, this applies to nonfiction). Becoming a go-to source for journalists is great—show me that you’ve been interviewed in magazines, newspapers, blogs, TV. Maintaining a clean, professional Web site is a must. And—don’t laugh—know what you’re talking about. We have received countless proposals from writers who want to pen books on subjects that they have no business writing. Don’t write a prescriptive health book if you are a landscaper.
GLA: Will you be at any upcoming writers’ conferences where writers can meet and pitch you?
FW: I used to be a regular at conferences and am planning on attending with more frequency in the future. Writers can always check our Web site for details.
GLA: What is something personal about you writers would be surprised to hear?
FW: I can be rather intense, particularly when it comes to negotiating or standing up for my authors. Until they get to know me well, I think most of my clients would be surprised to know that that I have a lighter side with a good sense of humor!
GLA: Where can writers find full submission guidelines for you?
GLA: Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t talked about yet?
FW: Publishing is full of rejections. The best thing any writer can do is to persevere and keep going in the face of adversity. Many of our biggest books over the years were rejected everywhere except at the house that eventually published them. You have to hang in there.
Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- How to Start Your Novel.
- If You’re a Writer, Googling Yourself Can Be Dangerous.
- When Should You Consider a Pseudonym?
- Sell More Books by Building Your Writer Platform.
- Why “Platform” Doesn’t Have to Be a Dirty Word.
- Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter.
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