One of the things most agents do is come up with ideas for books, and we come up with them in a bunch of different places.
The first example of a book idea I just stumbled upon was a story I came across in the New York Times Obituaries a number of years ago. Robert Giroux, one of the founders of Farrar, Straus and Giroux had died and the piece written about him was filled with colorful stories and characters. I immediately thought there was a book about the publishing business in that era and I approached Boris Kachka, who agreed to write it. Boris made the idea his own, of course, and the result was HOTHOUSE: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art in America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House Farrar Straus.
A number of years ago now, I was watching 60 Minutes (which I do every week) and I saw a family court judge profiled who was incredibly colorful, opinionated and somewhat outrageous. I found out how to reach that judge and suggested she write a book. That became DON’T PEE ON MY LEG AND TELL ME IT’S RAINING and the author became television’s beloved Judge Judy.
Then, last year when I vacationed in Kenya, I learned about how various animals are disappearing and I approached a science writer to do a book that might be titled THE WORLD WITHOUT ANIMALS.
I have found many true crime book ideas in the pages of People magazine or in the newspaper. One of the most recent and a book that is doing very well is THE LOST GIRLS by John Glatt, about the three young women who were imprisoned in a house in Cleveland for ten years.
Three years ago I went to Florence on vacation and learned for the first time of the great flood in the 1950s that threatened to destroy all of the city’s incredible art and how people came from all over the world to help save it. While in Rome on that same trip, I met a journalist who is now working on a book about this fascinating event.
Finding ideas is like discovering treasure. We are always looking for them wherever we go. I wonder where you get your book ideas and whether you would like to tell me about them. Maybe we will uncover something new together.