Meet Agent Terry Burns

- by BlogMistress

terryhighresTerry, tell us about your agency and yourself.

Hartline has been an established literary agency for over twenty years. I’ve been a client for a number of those years and became an agent a little over three years ago. As a writer I have a Young Adult entitled Beyond the Smoke that came out from BJU Press January 2009 and is a finalist for the Will Rogers Medallion, a historical fiction entitled A Promise Kept coming out later in the year from Mountainview Press, just finished ghostwriting a novel for a publisher, and a series that began with Mysterious Ways from River Oak Publishing ( the series bears that name). The second, Brothers Keeper came out Feb 1, 2006 and Shepherd’s Son came out January 1, 2007. That gives me 26 books in print counting the NF and short story collections. Other fiction includes Trails of the Dime Novel, a trade paperback from Echelon Press and in audio from JBS Publishing. I’ve published over 200 articles and short stories, am a popular speaker at workshops across the country. A bookstore of available works as well as a regular blog can be found at www.terryburns.net

What kind of book grabs your attention and makes you consider wanting to submit it?

I like a book that impacts my emotions. Make me laugh, cry, get angry, anything to cause me to feel something real as I read.

What makes a writer a good choice for you? What makes you a good choice for a writer?

I need a writer that is flexible and committed, that understands the need to develop a good platform, promote and generate visibility. That understands the task of getting published is a team effort. The writer has the right to expect that each client will be treated the same and that the full resources of the whole team will be focused on making it happen for them.

How much input do you expect to have on a client’s work?

I don’t try to write for my clients, but I often will point out areas of concern that I believe need to be addressed to make a project more publishable. How it is addressed is up to the client, but I would hope that they take the need serious.

Do you consider yourself a career-builder? Can you give an example?

Our contracts are for “all book length work” – unless we contract for a single project we are always trying to build the careers of our clients. I am currently representing second projects on several of them and in this past year sold several multi-book deals.

How do you determine when you think you have a break-out book submission? How would you handle it differently from your usual genre submission?

A breakout book is a product of the market that it is aimed at and how strong it appears that it will be in that market. As to handling it differently, I would try for a much more personal contact with the appropriate houses, try to demonstrate as strong of a platform and a capability to get out and be a strong media product.

How do you choose the editors to whom you submit? Can you tell us about your marketing plan for a particular book?

Book sales are not made to publishing houses but to editors. The better and more personal the relationships I have with editors the better. My assistant and I spend much of our time finding and cultivating these relationships and my clients participate as well, making contacts and gathering information that will not only help them but help the other clients in our group as well. I work with each client to have a concise and proactive marketing plan in their proposal. The publisher knows what they will do to market and they want to know how the author plans to participate.

What is the biggest mistake you think writers today typically make in the genres you represent?

Too often writers think they are through when they finish the book. When a movie is shot, they film all the scenes, but it becomes a movie when the director goes in and cuts and assembles the scenes into a movie. The author needs to do the same, to quit thinking like a writer, put on the director hat and go through the manuscript thinking of nothing but the flow and pacing. They need to push that reader off that first page and have them committed to reading the story early in the first chapter. They need to insure the chapter hook pushes them to the next chapter and continues to do so in succeeding chapters, to see that the story rises and falls and flows seamlessly. Too often this attention to the way the story flows is just not done.

How do you advise clients who want to venture into new genres or make a departure from their published works?

Christian writers often feel a call to do something different. I don’t feel it’s my place to tell them not to do something they feel called to do.

What kind of support do you offer clients who may have temporary difficulties in producing work?

It depends on what is causing the difficulty. Sometimes it may just be encouragement and support. At present my editorial assistant is actually helping a couple of clients resolve some issues. She’s very good at that.

How would you handle a new mid-career client?

Several of my clients are mid-career clients. There are reasons that they may be making a change and I try to help them address those needs.

What are your thoughts about pseudonyms?

I don’t have a problem with them.

How have you seen the expanding e-book market working for your clients?

I believe it is going to be more and more important but I haven’t seen it be a large impact on one of them yet.

What questions do you wish writers would ask you before becoming clients?

I pretty much guide them through the appropriate questions to be sure they know what to expect of me and what I expect of them.

How would you prefer to be approached by established writers looking for new representation?

A proposal per the submission guidelines at www.hartlineliterary.com – I accept them as a single word file attachment to an email and do not accept hard copy submissions. I try to run a paperless office as much as I can.

Anything else you would like to say?

Regardless whether they are applying to agents or editors writers should always check the submission guidelines and adhere to them exactly. They should know exactly the agent or editor they are applying to and why they feel it is the appropriate person for them.

Thanks to Laurie Alice Eakes for inviting Terry to blog for us today and to Elaine Isaaks for the interview questions.

One comments

  1. Thanks for the wonderful interview with Terry Burns.