Agent Lynn Nesbit on the nature of the beast

Jofie Ferrari-Adler conducts an interesting Q&A with literary agent Lynn Nesbit of Janklow & Nesbit Associates in the current issue of Poets & Writers. Here's a soundbite:

How do you know when a book has you. Is it a visceral feeling?
Yes. It's about the voice. You think, "Oh my God. This is an arresting voice." To me, voice matters almost more than narrative. Because it shows an originality. Many people can write good narrative—actually not many people; it's hard to write good narrative. But to have a style? Voice is what makes Joan Didion a great writer. Andy Greer and AndrĂ© Aciman have it...

People have such romantic notions about the publishing world. To you, what are the things that ultimately make it special?
It's given me a fantastic life. I have met so many interesting people. I have gone to so many interesting places. It just continually opens doors for me. I just came back from George Weidenfeld's eighty-eighth birthday party in Berlin with Springer-Verlag. Angela Merkel gave one of the toasts. It's a wonderful life because you're dealing in ideas, with literature, with interesting people.

This is a great interview. Nesbit talks about the biz and about her agency's mega-name clients, including Didion, Hunter S. Thompson, and more recently James Frey. Worth a read.


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