It’s inevitable that just as each of us makes personal resolutions for the New Year, so too must business owners assess the state of their businesses, of their industry, and how we might better serve our clients in the future. For yours truly, this means the following:
Find the silver lining: For all the gloom and doom that dominates discussions about the future of books, of any print medium, for that matter, the devaluation of content in terms of what customers are willing to pay for it, this continues to be an exciting time. With innovation and change, comes opportunity. I can’t turn back the clock on publishing to “the good old times” (which, by the way, were always at the time, going to be “the end of publishing as we know it”), but I can embrace new opportunities.
What does this mean for our clients? It means that we will continue to seek out pathways to getting published, whether that means selling to traditional publishers, up-and-c0ming new publishers, stalwart small presses, university presses, e-book publishers or a combination or hybrid.
Small can be beautiful: After more than a decade in business, the agency is entering what I like to call its “young maturity.” With over 100 clients, we already in a sense have the clients we want. We need to be sure that in the desire to seek out new talent, we in no way the talent we already house. Our existing clients are incredibly valuable to us. Not only do they represent many wonderful books that have already been brought to market, but more great books that can be brought into being. We want to be sure that we have the energy and vision to continue to nurture and build this talent.
Think big: OK, it sounds like I am contradicting myself, but I want not only to continue to think big for the clients we already represent as we continue to work with them to build their success, but also to make sure that we are open to finding the right new clients to take on for the future. Who might they be? We can afford now to be ever more selective. These new potential writers will be ones who come to us highly recommended by our existing clients, or by editors and other industry insiders who know us, as well as ones that we seek out. Very occasionally, they will come in over the transom, dazzling us with a brilliant query letter, a stunning proposal, exquisite sample material or in a few cases, a completed manuscript that is polished and calls to us. (For more about what we like and seek, dig deeper into “About Us” on this site, and also our agent profiles.)
The world will be our oyster: As a former editor, one aspect of agenting that I absolutely adore is dealing with the global demand for our books. We continue to expand beyond our borders with the help of our amazing subagents, specialists in different areas of the world. Every time we license one of our books in another country and/or language, there is an immense sense of validation and satisfaction. The hunger for the information and perspective our authors provide, or the entertainment they pen in other cultures is acute. Not all books will make it in a global marketplace, but many will.
I can’t wait to get started on the big adventure that will be 2012 in books for Joelle Delbourgo Associates. Join me!