There are a slew of people in the advertising business who swear they have the next Tipping Point beneath their belt. And, as the market trends down into the dumps, many laid off mad men and women are thinking that now is a good time to pen that book about the business. Have you got the right stuff? Is there even room for yet another advertising and marketing book in the market? What exactly are book agents looking for these days?
We decided to ask one. Jud Laghi is one of the agents at well known agency, LJK Literary Management. He has represented both non-fiction and fiction titles, including the bestsellers Brainiac by Ken Jennings and The Hipster Handbook by Robert Lanham. His clients include journalists from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, This American Life and many more.
There are a million advertising books on the market. Do you think the market can support more?
“Yes-there’s still plenty of room in the market for books that crossover ad and marketing concepts in ways that people outside the industry can relate to. The average person now has the ability to be heard on a scale that was once reserved for established personalities and companies. Writers with a background in advertising and marketing have a unique insight on that model, and how to apply it on various scales.”
Are there any specific types of advertising and marketing books that you are currently looking for?
“I’m interested in book ideas that look ahead a year or two, especially ones that tackle advertising and marketing concepts in untraditional ways. A lot has happened in the past few years for the way people communicate ideas, and I think you’ll see some interesting things emerge from people who have gotten comfortable with the new playing field as the buzz of the gadgetry of it wears off. The Obama campaign was a good example of that, using the internet and text messaging in ways that showed that those forms are legit for more than just recreation. You also see changes in brands that have been around for so long-big companies failing, Budweiser getting bought out with foreign money. Part of the appeal of Mad Men is a nostalgic fascination for that old model where people trusted certain brands and didn’t have to think too hard about what they spent their money and time on, and the minds that had that kind of power in their hands. Now we’re in a world of what seems like there’s limitless options, but there’s also a lot of tension in getting heard through the static. The core of the advertising and marketing mindset is an understanding of what it takes to be remembered, which remains as important and elusive as it’s ever been and, I think, good material for books.”
What would make a pitch stand out for you? Is it about the person writing it (fame in the industry) or is it about their writing ability or does it come down to a concept?
“All three are important-the concept is what gets your attention, as does the person writing and what they’ve done in the past. The execution of it is going to come through in the writing and is going to be what makes it stand out once it’s actually in bookstores. For the pitch itself, as an agent, concept and platform are what stands out when you’re evaluating what you’re going to look at first.”
What’s the best way to pitch a respected literary agent like yourself in what is difficult economic climate?
“The best way to pitch is to be brief and to the point. I get a lot of submissions in, but the ones that stand out cut to the chase and summarize the idea quickly and in a way that makes you want to read more. They also show not only why this is a good idea for a book, but why they are the best person to write it. Books have become a luxury item-why should someone pay twenty-five bucks to hear what you have to say?”
Often, literary agents contact professionals about the possibility of writing a book. How can a writer get noticed by your industry?
“If you’re getting contacted by an agent or a book editor, rather than the other way around, you’re already doing something right-running a website or a blog, writing pieces for magazines and newspapers, doing speaking engagements and generally getting out there. Publishing is a numbers game now more than ever, so someone that wants to be in business with a major publisher should be doing whatever they can to show that there are people out there interested in what they have to say.”