What Literary Agents Want To See When They Google You

If you’re an emerging writer and you’re not following Chuck Sambuchino’s blog, Guide To Literary Agents, you should start. Chuck asked a bunch of agents how they use Google, and what they’re looking for when they do. Here are their responses:


“If you provide your website, or say that you are on Twitter or Tumblr, I will look! I always research possible clients, not only to see what they’ve been working on, but also to see if there is a lack of information on the Internet, or potentially controversial or harmful information. An editor will Google the author, and I don’t want to be caught unawares as to what they might find.”

— Roseanne Wells (Marianne Strong Literary Agency)

“I do use Google at times to get more information about people who have queried me. I may be looking to verify information in their query or to check on their professional background. I also have a pool of sources who can verify the veracity of someone’s book, no matter what it’s about.”

— Gina Panettieri (Talcott Notch Literary Services)

“Yes, definitely. I’m looking for a presence online (managing what pops up when someone Googles your name is very important!). If I see a Twitter/Facebook/blog/website (not necessarily all of those things), it lets me know that the author is engaged online and what kind of savvy they have. A publisher will really want the author to help (a lot) with promo, so if the author isn’t already active in the spaces where that will happen—i.e., social media—then I know it’s going to fall to me to teach them to use social media and harangue them into using it.”

— Meredith Barnes (formerly of Lowenstein Associates, Inc.)

“I do Google prospective clients. I want to see how present they are on the web, if any dirt comes up immediately, or if there is anything interesting that the author hasn’t mentioned in their correspondence with me. I often find some bit of information that helps inform my decision—usually in a good way.”

— Bernadette Baker-Baughman (Victoria Sanders & Associates)

“I always Google prospective clients. I like to see how active they are online and what news outlets have featured them (the more, the better). I also look for their personal website, a blog, how active they are on Twitter, etc. I even use tools like Tweetreach and Klout to see what kind of impact their social networking has. I would expect any editor who receives his or her proposal to do the same.”

— Alyssa Reuben (Paradigm Literary)

Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie

“I always Google potential authors before signing them up. I need to know how well received they are by the audience they are hoping to write for. Unfortunately you can’t take at face value what people say in proposals. You have to validate information.”

— Regina Brooks (Serendipity Literary Agency)

“I always Google. Always. Usually at the query stage. I’m looking for how that person presents him- or herself online. Are sites updated? Are they sloppy or professional? Are they complaining about agents and publishing? (That’s a red flag.) I’m also looking at whether I can find the person at all. Sometimes I can’t, and that’s almost always an instant pass.”

— Laurie Abkemeier (DeFiore and Company)

“Sure — I’m looking for how they present themselves, anything that’s raised my curiosity in the query letter, anything that smacks of excitement around them or their subject. I’m not usually looking for something that may have been swept under the rug, but occasionally I do see something that makes me think, Okay, this is a pass.”

— Stephany Evans (FinePrint Literary Management)

Agatha Christie

Ten Best-Selling Books Rejected by Publishers Twenty or More Times

Feeling the rejection letter gloom? This might make you feel better.

  1. Dubliners by James Joyce


  1. MAS*H by Richard Hooker


  1. Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison by Charles Shaw


  1. Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl


  1. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach


  1. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain


  1. Lorna Doone by Richard Doddridge Blackmore


  1. Auntie Maime by Patrick Dennis


  1. The Peter Principle by Laurence Peter


  1. Dune by Frank Herbert


William Burroughs and Mick Jagger. Photograph by Victor Bockris

William S. Burroughs’ Class On Inspiration For Writers

The internet might be making us all weird–weirdly robotic, weirdly desensitized, and weirdly out of touch with the phyical world– but all the weirdness does come with perks. Free online courses and lectures are a golden example. Here is William S. Burroughs’ lecture on writing sources and inspiration, recorded in July 1976 at Naropa University in Boulder, CO.

Listen to Part 1

In the first half of the class William S. Burroughs discusses various sources that writers can use for inspiration, giving examples from his own work. These sources include dreams, voices (external and internal), and cut-up. Burroughs emphasizes how important it is for a writer to give up on his/her ego. and presents his sources as a means to that end.  The recording includes questions and answers.

Listen to Part 2

William S. Burroughs finishes the class with a question and answer session. He answers questions about women, non-referential images, non-linear thinking, and telepathy.

William Burroughs and Jimmy Page
William Burroughs and Jimmy Page
Haruki Murakami at his jazz bar, Peter Cat, in Sendagaya, Tokyo, 1978.

Nothing Is Strange- A Visit To Murakami’s Jazz Club

Originally posted on Aarongilbreath's Blog:


POSTCARD — February 10, 2014

Nothing Is Strange

A trip to Murakami’s jazz club

By Aaron Gilbreath

Murakami at Book House You. © Tatsuya Mine
Murakami at Book House You. © Tatsuya Mine

Before he became a novelist, Haruki Murakami was a jazz fan. He got into it when he was fifteen, after seeing Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers perform in Kobe in January 1964.The lineup that night was of one of the most celebrated in the band’s three decades of existence, featuring Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Curtis Fuller on trombone, Wayne Shorter on sax, and Cedar Walton on piano. “I had never heard such amazing music,” Murakami later said. “I was hooked.” Ten years later, he postponed his university studies to open a jazz club in suburban Tokyo, naming it Peter Cat, after one of his pets. In 1977, he and his wife, Yoko, moved the club to Tokyo’s central Sendagaya neighborhood, where he…

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Author Juliet Escoria Talks Nightlife and Writing | BlackBook

Author Juliet Escoria Talks Nightlife and Writing | BlackBook.

Nightlife for many is a means to an end. Most truly do not want to be bartending or waitressing deep into middle age, although both are rewarding and noble professions. The business is full of dancers and singers and actors and artists and writers and even an Olympian or two. The hours and cash allow aspiring nobodies to cast, practice, and hone their skills on their way to becoming somebodies. The list of important cultural figures who worked in the biz before they “made it” runs from Dustin Hoffman and Debbie Harry to Bruce Willis and Lana Del Ray…and so on.

The thing about working in nightlife to become a star is that you have to enjoy the trip as the percentage of those who have their names put up in lights is unfortunately small. Hospitality employees need an exit strategy, a plan B. Juliet Escoria, or Julia to those who worked with her in clubdom, was always a writer but now she is a published writer, with a new book and a reading tour which has brought her back to NYC. She will read from her collection of short stories Black Cloud on Friday, June 13 at Mellow Pages Library (56 Bogart St, 1S). Readings are the polar opposite of EDM, although both require listening—you sit and open your mind to the author’s ideas, and have the opportunity to meet and discuss after. It’s all very civilized… a welcome change from club banging.

I caught up with Juliet and asked her all about it.

So what’s your book about?

It’s a collection of short stories. I mean, like short-short, as in you can go through them in a few minutes, and there are also pictures. So I feel like people who don’t read all that much might even enjoy reading them. The stories are about drugs and mental illness and bad relationships and feeling alienated from yourself and the world around you. They’re more true than I’d like to admit to my parents.

I’ve seen some of your videos. How do they relate to the stories?

I started the project because I had this idea in my head of a music video, but for stories. At first I was just going to make a couple, but then it morphed into what it is now, which is a video per story (I’ve made nine so far, and have three to go). I liked that idea because I hadn’t seen it done before, and also because it seemed ambitious in a way that appealed to me. I see them as an extension of the stories, in that they are able to expand on emotions or themes that the stories can’t do on their own. There’s a truth to the axioms “A picture speaks a thousand words” and “Words can only say so much.”

What is your history in nightlife?

I moved here, went to grad school, graduated, and got a job doing adjunct work at a university. The thing is though, I couldn’t pay rent. College adjuncts get paid shit, which is pretty fucking sad. I got a job waitressing at a nightclub in addition to the teaching. I had waitressed all through undergrad and I’d enjoyed it, but it was different now that I was older, in that I didn’t have the patience to deal with the customers anymore. I quickly got fired for having a “bad attitude.” In the winter, they needed help with coat check and took a chance on hiring me back. I loved doing coat check because it was all the aspects I liked about nightlife — leaving work with cash in hand, the music, getting dressed up, the late nights — without any of the bullshit like having dumb drunk girls screaming at you about how they want their Patron. And in coat check, my “bad attitude” was helpful. When people lose their tickets they have a tendency to get really belligerent about it, so it’s useful to be assertive.

How’d you leave the industry?

I went through a bad break up, which forced me to reevaluate my priorities. I loved living in New York, but I was working all the time and I ended up deciding that being a writer was more important to me than being a New Yorker. My reality is that I could be one or the other, but not both. I ended up moving back home to California and really forcing myself to dig my heels into the writing thing. It was a sacrifice, but it seems to have paid off.

What can a person expect from a literary reading?

There’s all types, and in New York there’s generally multiple going on a night. Some of them are terrible—boring, pretentious, lifeless. And some are great. I’m fortunate enough to have two going on this week that I feel fall into the latter category. I’m doing one tonight in Crown Heights called the Franklin Park Reading Series, which is probably the best-known reading series around right now. It’s run by Penina Roth, who has been able to put together great shows every month for several years now. The readers she selects are really diverse, and the audience is big (like 100-200 people) and generally on the younger side and very supportive.

On Friday, I’m reading at Mellow Pages, which is a lending library and reading room that’s run out of an art space in Bushwick. This place came around after I left New York, but it has quickly become essential to the indie lit community. The space is really warm and down-to-earth and welcoming. They have readings there several nights out of the week, and it’s a good place to find books that you might not normally hear about.


a storyteller & impolite lady


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