Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The new job

Today, I switched from editor to agent. A different side of the same desk. It's a very big change for me: doffing the mantle of publisher and donning that of agent at Sanford J. Greeburger Associates. You can read a little about it in today's PW Children's Bookshelf. But in case you're seeking a more in-depth analysis of this move, look no further. I asked my old friend, Brenda Bowen, Ex-Publisher, to interview my new self, Brenda Bowen, Girl Agent. We caught up with each other on the eve of BEA. Here's what the world's greenest children's book agent had to say about her choices.

BBXP: So Brenda -- an agent? How come?
BBGA: It's been a long time coming, I think. I've seen other people -- Nancy Gallt, Michael Stearns -- make the change successfully. Maybe I can do it, too.

BBXP: How come Greenburger? Why not hang out your own shingle?

BBGA: SJGA is the home of Dan Brown, Fancy Nancy, and Kafka. Can't beat that. And they're experts in areas where I'll need expertise: contracts, royalties, rights.

BBXP: How are you going to find clients. Is that the word -- clients?
BBGA: Actually, I like to use the words authors and illustrators. I'll look for them through blogs and conferences and in magazines and newspapers. I'll ask authors and editors for referrals. I'll eavesdrop on people's cell phone conversations while I'm getting a pedicure.

BBXP: You know, you've moved around a lot. What's the deal with that?
BBGP: Change is the only constant.

BBXP: No cliches, please.
BBGP: Fair enough. I made this move because I've finally come to the realization that I'm old enough to be working for myself. SJGA is a loose federation of independent agents; so I'll have colleagues, not a boss. I'll ask advice; not permission.

BBXP: Nicely put. Is it true you're also a writer?
BBGP: Yes, like many people in publishing, I've had a little sideline as a writer. It will help me as an agent, I think, to have had experience as an author, too. And I have a new agent -- Faith Hamlin, also at SJGA.

BBXP: Why exactly are you becoming an agent, when the entire industry is crumbling about our ears?
BBGA: Not crumbling. Reimagining itself. And what better time to be closer to the creative community than this? Books will survive, in whatever form they may take.

BBXP: Hmmm. We'll see about that. What exactly is your take on new media?
BBGA: Maybe I'll auction the first American cell-phone novel for teens. Who knows. I'll be open to great stories and book ideas wherever they come from.

BBXP: And you're packaging too? And taking on adult authors?
BBGA: In the fullness of time.

BBXP: You're very ambitious.
BBGA: My weakness and my strength.

BBXP: How would you describe yourself as an agent?
BBGA: I see myself as the love-child of Dan Lazar and Marilyn Marlow: texting editors at 2AM, only in 19th century prose.

BBXP: Thanks so much for your time.
BBGA: My pleasure.


kidlit43 said...

Yay! Brenda's back! And better than ever.

Unknown said...

I am so happy for you! I've got to finish revising so it'll be ready to send to you ;)

Anonymous said...

Brenda, I just saw this news on the Bookshelf--congratulations. And great interview--I started feeling like BBXP was perhaps being a little hard on BBGA, and then I went, oh...wait! :)

Lynne Kelly said...

Congrats on the new job, and thanks for posting the interview! Brenda, can you let us know what you like to read, and what you'll be looking for as an agent?

word verification: Avionphone. If that's not a word, it should be. Something about bird communication...

lizzy_lyn said...

haha! You be a funny agent.

Molly said...

Loved the interview!!
And if no one has congratulated Margaret McNamara about *her* fabulous new agent news in the midst of all the other excitement, let me be the first!

Brenda Bowen said...

Thanks, Molly. Peg is thrilled, herself.

lizzy_lyn said...

I should clarify . . . I meant "funny" as in "agent w/a good sense of humor."

*slinking quietly away, now*

Brenda Bowen said...

I didn't even *think* to take it as anything as a compliment. But then, I'm a funny agent.

Nina Lindsay said...

Appreciate the inside scoop! Sounds like you've landed on top.

polycotte said...

Brenda Bowen is a Book Person, through and through: editor, publisher, author, agent ... whatever.

welcome back, bunny


Liz B said...


Anonymous said...

Hello Brenda,
So happy to see you agenting, kid lit wouldn't be the same without you. It's unbelievable to me that any pub would let you go, I've seen you speak at conferences and your passion and knowledge is inspiring. I can't wait to see what you do as an agent.
All my best to you,
Angela Fox

brattcat said...

What a delightful interviewer, what a clever interviewee. What a lucky agency to have you.

Mark Siegel said...

This is GREAT WONDERFUL news Brenda! Some lucky authors and artists ahead. Yay!

Stephanie J. Blake said...

This is great news! Best of luck.

Tracy Loewer said...

I love the way you were able to coax the answers from yourself when you were clearly trying to play coy :) Good luck with the exciting new change!

Flower said...


How exciting for you! Congratulations! I wish you much success in your journey as an agent.

Haste yee back ;-) said...


I like folks that ask and answer their own questions... if you're lookin' to fill your barn, consider please...



Haste yee back ;-)

Unknown said...

Congratulations on the move! I wish you the absolute best, lost of authors and illustrators, and more money than you might know what you do with right away. I say right away because you can always decide to start doing wild crazy things with piles of money after the shock wears off.

You do not know me now, but I will be hanging around and doing my lurking thing while I finished my manuscript...then depending upon what you are looking to represent, I will send you my query or just post random, thought-provoking questions on your blog. I have not decided yet.

Have fun and a great weekend.

p.s. You can thank Nathan Bransford for pointing me to your blog. Muuhahahahahahaha!!!

Brenda Bowen said...

I have a lot to thank Nathan Bransford for. Many interesting connections, for one. And his own amazingly informative and absorbing blog, for another.

Traci VW said...

Congrats on your new job. Great interview with yourself. I will be querying in the future. :) Do you accept email queries?

Anonymous said...

Nice "interview" I was a boring journalist... I was writing about viagra online, a boring article by the way, and one day I start to write about what people do, I just walk with my notebook to see what they do... and who could imagine ? I was writing just like you right now.

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