It’s the beginning of a new year and I thought that I would look back to when I began as an agent in 1986 to see what I was representing and selling then compared to where my interests and successes are today. It has been fun to look back.
When I started out, practical non-fiction – self-help – was all the rage and I certainly represented my fair share of books in that category. Soon, I began to represent cookbooks and one author spoke to another who recommended me to another and another and before I knew it I had a fairly large cookbook list.
Then there were the true crime titles. Again, I picked up a lot of writers who were interested in this category (one that sold very well for years and years). Initially, these books were published in hardcover, followed by paperback editions, but after a number of years, they were only published as original mass market paperbacks.
I did some business books, both practical and narrative non-fiction along with some biographies. I slowly started adding some fiction, genre and non-genre.
All of this is vastly different today, both because the marketplace has changed enormously – current reading tastes are very different than they were over twenty years ago – and because my tastes in what I want to represent have changed as well.
Looking at what I have sold in the last couple of years I find:
Fiction: Women’s fiction, thrillers, mystery, romance – historical and contemporary — fantasy, including urban fantasy and historical fantasy, literary fiction, and some horror.
I am also representing many more memoirs than I have in the past.
A constant on my list, then and now, is narrative non-fiction by award-winning journalists. This has always been something I have been interested in and over the years I have represented a number of Pulitzer Prize winning authors.
And, yes, though I am handling far fewer cookbooks, I still am representing some of my favorite authors in the food world. I am still handling true crime as well (although it seems the distribution system for true crime has totally collapsed making it harder and harder to sell into this category).
In short, it is very interesting to look back and see how my interests have changed as reading tastes have changed. And it is exciting to look forward as well. What are you reading now that you didn’t read 10 or 20 years ago? How have your tastes changed?