Literary Agent Ryan Fischer changed the way that he worked to have more time and attention to pay to his select clients. He tells us in this interview how this changed his life, what his client list reflects now, and why he’s psyched for the switch to digital publishing.
What job title do you go by? And what’s your favorite part about your job?
What’s your official title and why are you the best agent/manager in the universe?
My official title is Agent. I’m sure that my accountant labeled me “President” on incorporation papers somewhere, but I think self-assigned titles like president and CEO among small business proprietors are silly. First and for most, I represent the interests of my clients. Several years ago I was working as an agent at a high-volume, high-revenue firm. When my first child was born I realized that while I was doing very big deals for very successful people, I did not have the roll-up-my-sleeves-red-pencil-creative-thinking time that I’d enjoyed as an editor. It was a bona-fide Jerry MacGuire moment: fewer clients, more attention, more heart. both sides of the desk, I’m able to deliver to publishers things that I know they like in a turn-key way.
How should a new writer try to reach you if they like the sound of this kind of representation?
Email query, with bio. I like it when folks send things to me for a reason, not just cc me alongside a hundred other agents.
And what kinds of books are you hoping to see cross your desk sometime soon?
I’d like to see more smart history. Editors are looking for books that will help them keep their paychecks coming in.
Since publishing is going down right now, how have you and your writers prepared themselves for potential hard times?
I’ve stayed optimistic and confident. In my experience the day-to-day economics are not so different. Editors are more selective, advances have gotten more responsible. But even at the lowest point during all the lay-offs I was entertaining seven, six and five figure deals from good houses. I will say that I’ve cut my overhead a bit and diversified my client list, just in case things hit the fan.
Do you think that digital publishing is a good thing for publishing as a whole?
-Digital books are awesome. I echo the believers. Last week, in Virginia Heffernan’s NYT magazine story, she said she couldn’t even remember purchasing books on her ereader. It’s my observation, and it is not scientific, that buying is the new browsing, thanks to the ease of purchasing ebooks. Thankfully Apple loosened Amazon’s pricing pressures.
Would you mind closing the interview with an interesting fact about yourself?
After many years, I’m no longer vegan.