Publishers Marketplace reports that Joni Evans, one of the lynchpins of William Morris Agency’s literary division, is leaving in January after 11 years “for the next act in [her] professional life.”
Evans further commented to PM that even though she’s “jumping without a net,” she’s confident she’ll figure out what her next move is. She’s previously toiled as President of Simon & Schuster’s Trade Division as well as running Little Random (back in the days of Harry Evans) and way before that, an assistant at McCall’s and The Writer.
Her client list at WMA was heavily skewed towards non-fiction and celebrity authors, with people like Marcia Clark, John Stossel, Steve Florio, Fran Liebowitz and Peggy Noonan among those giving over their 10 or 15 percent to her for their lucrative book deals. Which, in a way, espouses one of her presiding philosphies (as detailed in a long-ago story for Fast Company):
I had a famous uncle who was the poetry editor of the New Yorker, so at the general editorial meeting, I raised my hand and said, “I can get Howard Moss.” There was silence in the room. Then everyone turned to little Joni as if to say, How do you know Howard Moss? Within a week, I was promoted. I got a raise and a better desk. And that’s how I learned that everything is about who you know, not what you know.