Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Introducing Literary Agent Janet Reid!

If you're a new writer or just in the process of looking for an agent, I certainly understand how daunting a task that can be. Agents (and editors) are often seen as formidable and unapproachable. Conferences can sometimes be your first (or last) chance at speaking to an agent and if you're anything like me, you spend the limited time babbling because you're so nervous to be in the company of Gods.

As a way to break the ice we've invited our conference panels to sit and chat with us. And, if, for any reason you may have doubted it, I'm here to tell you, they really are human. J

Joining us today is literary agent Janet Reid from FinePrint Literary Management. Janet specializes in compelling fiction particularly crime fiction; and narrative non-fiction. She's always on the lookout for fabulous projects.

Her publishing background includes fifteen years in book publicity with clients both famous and infamous.

If you’re not familiar with the name then maybe this will help.


(Contrary to what you might think, she does not eat newbie writers for breakfast)

Janet keeps a blog with information about clients and answers questions about publishing and query letters and other things that strike her interest at jetreidliterary.blogspot.com.

In her spare hours she drinks scotch and stalks Jack Reacher .

Desert Rose: Thank you for joining us, Janet. Your career as an agent is very successful. What or who influenced you to become an agent?
Janet: I started my publishing career in book publicity. I loved it! I got to meet authors, talk books, and read. Slowly the pr landscape changed and it was less about books and all about platform and celebrity. I just burned out after a while and couldn't pick up the phone--not a good thing for a publicist. I knew I didn't want to leave publishing so I caucused with some smart business coach pals and came up with agenting. I arrived in New York with no clients, no clue, and a lot of nerve. I was fortunate beyond measure to meet Sheree Bykofsky, who sent me all her rejections for a year to jump start my career, and later Stephany Evans for whom I now work.

Desert Rose: What books do you read for pleasure?
Janet: I have a subscription with two publishers: Tupelo Press for poetry and Archipelago Books for literature in translation. It's sort of like book-of-the-month-club. I like this model because I know nothing about poetry and less about books published in other countries. This way the editors find good books, and I get the benefit of their knowledge. I've read a lot of amazing things I'd never have even found on my own.
And of course I love mysteries and crime thrillers so I read as much of that category as I can. And I love children's picture books. Can you NOT love Olivia?

Desert Rose: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Janet: Like to? This is it. I'm going to be an agent till they tie me to a railroad track and run over me with the Wabash Cannonball. However, if by some dreadful turn of events I couldn't be a literary agent, I want to be a fact checker at the New Yorker.

Desert Rose: What one word would you use to describe yourself?
Janet: Happy.

Desert Rose: It’s said you can tell a lot about a person by their surroundings. What does your workspace look like?
Janet: Ha! I'm so glad you asked on the day it was clean. Actually I like clean and organized. I work in a small office. My eyeline is directly to our FinePrint godsend and newest agent Suzie Townsend. That's so I can throw spitballs at her. I have three tall bookcases against the walls with the books I've sold where I can see them easily. Looking at them makes me very happy. I have my favorite piece of office equipment-my shredder- to the right of my desk. I have book covers and cover art on the walls. I'm surrounded by my work. I love it!

Desert Rose: Do you have any hobbies?

Janet: I go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art here in NY a lot.

Desert Rose: If you were stranded on an island… what four things would you want with you?

Janet: Water, a raft, a map and a radio.

Desert Rose: What was the most dangerous or scariest thing you’ve ever done? (such as bungee jumping or alligator wrestling.) ;-)

Janet: I drove to Yugoslavia from London. And back.

Desert Rose: If you could have lunch with anyone living or dead… who would it be?

Janet: I'm a practicing Catholic. There's only one answer to that: Jesus.

Desert Rose: If you could live in another time period… when would it be and why?
Janet: The future. I know what happened in the past (sort of at least) I want to see what comes next.

Desert Rose: What is your favorite word? What is your least favorite word?
Janet: Favorite: SOLD!
Least favorite: whatever

Desert Rose: What was your most embarrassing moment (that you are comfortable sharing).

Janet: I was on a panel at a writing conference some years back. I thought I was moderating it. So I did. Only later did I realize the panel I was to moderate was this topic, yes, but at a DIFFERENT conference, some weeks hence. I basically shouldered the conference-designated moderator out of the way by just taking over and proceeding as though I were in charge. She never said a word, and in fact I didn't realize it until weeks later. I'm STILL mortified.

Desert Rose: Aside from taking author appointments, you’re scheduled to do a workshop at the conference. Can you tell us what it’s about?
Janet: It’s called Social Networking Media for Authors but is more correctly titled: how to make friends while staying in your jammies. Social networking is a powerful tool to meet your readers. This workshop is for beginners. It will teach the basics about why you need a website and how to get one easily; how and why to blog; how Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other connectivity tools work.

Desert Rose: Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule. Before we go here’s a Flash Round.

Favorite Ice Cream flavor? Mint chocolate chip
Favorite Food? Sushi
Favorite flower? Whatever is beautiful and cheap at the market.
Guilty Pleasure? Romance novels!

You can learn more about Ms. Reid at her website.


  1. Welcome Janet, I'm so looking forward to meeting you and hearing your workshop. I'd do lunch with Jesus, too. And, my favorite word is SOLD LOL

  2. Fabulous interview! Janet Reid is one of my favorite not-my-own agents.

  3. Janet, thanks for telling us a bit about yourself! I can't wait to learn how to make friends while staying in my jammies. Advanced social networking tends to intimidate me at times....


  4. I look forward to your class at the conference. I worked so hard at learning the craft of writing that I find the whole idea of promo a bit (okay, totally) daunting!

  5. Hi Donna, I'm looking forward to meeting you too. And social networking is easier to learn than writing. Just for starters..no evil synopis required!