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Boxing the Octopus: all content copyright 2008 Colleen Thompson and Joni Rodgers all rights reserved.
Ten years ago, one of the many (and I mean many) New York literary agents who rejected me passed my query letter along to Laurie Harper of Sebastian Literary in San Francisco. She was impressed that I'd managed to place my first two novels unagented with small but reputable presses. I was shopping my third book, a memoir about my experience in chemo, and Laurie candidly told me right up front the same thing all those other agents told me: cancer books don't sell. The difference was, she was willing to look at the ms.
Long story short, Laurie loved the book, talked me through a few revisions, then worked her shapely young backside off to place it with a terrific editor at Harper Collins. I finally felt like an author "for real"; this was the first year of my writing life that I made more money than I would have made as a checkout girl at Kroger. A giant leap in self-esteem, income, and opportunities.
These days, Laurie's living in the Midwest and expanding on the experience and industry expertise gathered during 30+ years as a literary agent with Author Biz Consulting. She offers project evaluation, contract negotiation, career planning, and other services geared to help emerging authors take that next step forward. Unagented writers can get help with the query process. Agented writers can get contract advice and career coaching from a neutral party. Author Biz offers Quick Counsel services on a retainer basis, which is a great time and money effective way to get expert answers to questions about writers conferences, copyright law, agent evaluations, and other industry stuff.
It sounds like a terrific resource, especially for a writer who hasn't yet connected with a network of published friends and publishing colleagues. Check it out.