Andy Ross of the Andy Ross Agency discusses how agents evaluate manuscripts and how agents operate in today’s book publishing climate.
Andy Ross has been active in the publishing world for 40 years, first as a bookseller and now as an agent. In this podcast conversation, he shares his thoughts on agenting and when and how an agent can work with a small independent publisher. Highlights include:
- Is there life after bookselling?
- What does an agent do?
- What are the real advantages of working with an agent, besides contract negotiation?
- Why agents need to be more than just dealmakers.
- How do you find a good agent, or how do you know if a particular agent is good for you?
- Why is it so hard to get published these days?
- Will agents work with small indie presses?
- Why the agent’s first obligation is always to the author.
- Is it true that agents can turn small indie books into big commercial hits?
- The age-old question: is Amazon good or bad for publishing and publishers?
- How does an agent decide if he/she likes a book and wants to take it on (hint, you have 45 seconds, maybe less!).
- Thrilling moments in the life of an agent.
- What kinds of books are selling these days?
Andy Ross is principal at the Andy Ross Agency, based in Oakland, California. Andy started his agency in 2008, and before that was the owner of Cody's Books in Berkeley for 30 years.
Cody’s was one of the best-known and best-loved bookstores in its day. It was at the epicenter of the antiwar movement in the sixties, and over the years hosted thousands of writers including: Norman Mailer, Gary Snyder, Alan Ginsberg, Kurt Vonnegut, Salman Rushdie, Joseph Heller, and Alice Walker. It also hosted events for major public and cultural figures such as: Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Mohammed Ali, Mickey Mantle, Gloria Steinem, and Buckminster Fuller.
A changing economy and buying habits forced Cody’s to close its doors in 2008, and since then Andy has transitioned into matchmaker, helping authors and publishers find each other. He focuses on authors who write books in a wide range of subjects including narrative non-fiction, science, journalism, history, current affairs, contemporary culture, religion, children's books and commercial and literary fiction. But like many agents these days, he wears multiple hats, and sometimes needs to function as editor and diplomat, too.
You can reach Andy Ross at http://www.andyrossagency.com/. Andy's blog is Ask the Agent: Night Thoughts about Books and Publishing. And here you can order Andy’s book, The Literary Agent’s Guide to Writing a Non-Fiction Book Proposal.
Peter Goodman (host) is publisher of Stone Bridge Press in Berkeley, California. He began his publishing career in Tokyo, Japan, in 1976. A longtime member of IBPA, he has served on the IBPA board and as IBPA board chair.