Meet Agent/Author Tamela Hancock Murray

- by BlogMistress

Welcome industry guest Tamela Hancock Murray, an agent with Hartline Literary Agency and the author of numerous published books.

Tell us about your agency and yourself.

I live in Northern Virginia with my awesome husband of 24 years. We have been blessed with two beautiful daughters. I like to say I have the best clients in the world! Find out more at: www.tamelahancockmurray.com

Hartline Literary Agency has several agents. Joyce Hart, our CEO, has been with CBA since 1978. Terry Burns, Diana Flegal, and Erik Schmidgal are my other colleagues. I have been with Hartline since 2001. I love Hartline because we are the agency with a heart. We give our clients personal attention and the agents enjoy working together. Find out more at: www.hartlineliterary.com

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

I like to see a professional proposal that shows me the author has an idea that fills a need in the current marketplace, and that the author can partner with the publisher to bring the book to the public. I don’t limit myself on what topics I’ll consider in material geared to the Christian market. However, I do have to bring balance to my list so sometimes I am forced to turn down proposals I wish I could accept. Timing is often a factor because publishing is fluid, so I am constantly reviewing submissions.

What makes you a good choice for a writer?

My writers appreciate the fact that I understand what they are going through because I am also an author. I am not writing as many books now as I did in the past because I enjoy being an agent, but I understand firsthand the effort it takes to fill a blank page with words worth reading, and the happy problem of balancing a number of contracts with a fulfilling personal life.

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

This depends on the client. I talk to my clients and see what their expectations and needs are and I work accordingly.

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

Yes, I do. I could give many examples but I’ll focus on two:

Kim Vogel Sawyer had self-published a couple of novels to great reader acclaim when she signed with me. I knew her gentle stories of hope were—and are—outstanding and I marketed her work to publishers until she found homes with both Barbour Publishing and Bethany House.

Today Kim’s books consistently appear on important bestseller lists and her work receives many industry accolades. Learn more about Kim at: http://www.kimvogelsawyer.com/

I had met Trish Perry through Capital Christian Writers. However, I didn’t realize the extent of her talent until I judged a contest for them. She had me hooked from the first sentence! I wasn’t surprised when her chick lit stories sold to Harvest House.

Today, she is one of the premiere voices in this genre and her future is bright. Learn more about Trish at: http://www.trishperry.com

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

I advise them that it’s almost like starting over because, for example, if your audience expects light comedic romance, they won’t necessarily want to read hard core science fiction from you. However, I am open to authors trying new directions and I advise the author that we can work with the publisher on how to market a new type of work.

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

My clients know I’m there for them no matter what. I assist authors and help them be more successful rather than dictating to them what their level of productivity should be. Some authors can be happy writing several books a year while others prefer to write one. I work with authors and editors on pacing output to enhance authors’ careers and publishers’ schedules.

How would you handle a new mid-career client?

I try to build on their previous success while opening new doors.

Kathi Macias signed on with me as a mid-career author and together, we have watched her career grow. Her latest accolade is being awarded Member of the Year by Advanced Writers and Speakers Association at the 2008 Golden Scroll banquet. Kathi’s latest release is BEYOND ME from New Hope Publishers, which was named “top pick” in the Christian Living category by Christian Retailing magazine.

Two other authors who signed on with me in mid-career are Debby Mayne and Sandra Bricker. Both of these authors continue to be successful, with books soon to be released by Summerside Press. Although she signed with me as a new author rather than at mid-career, another one of my clients, Miralee Ferrell writes for this publisher. I am also pleased that I am writing a book for them on Maiden, North Carolina. This publisher has a wonderful blog at http://lovefindsyou.wordpress.com/.

What are your thoughts about pseudonyms?

I think they can be useful for authors going in a new direction. In some cases, they might be necessary for authors writing about sensitive topics. I deal with pseudonyms on a case-by-case basis.

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

I try to cover everything when I first discuss representation with an author, including our contract terms, which are industry standard. So far I’ve had very few misunderstandings with authors because I do my best to keep communication open. I make answering emails a priority, and I am available to talk to authors when they need me.

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

I am always open to proposals as suggested by our guidelines on Hartline’s site www.hartlineliterary.com. I especially like client referrals but they aren’t necessary to gain you consideration. My roster stays pretty full so sometimes I’m not able to answer as quickly as I would like regarding new queries. However, if you don’t hear from me in about a month, please email me asking for a status because sometimes cyberspace isn’t perfect.

Do you accept electronic submissions?

Yes! In fact, I much prefer them over hard copy.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

A big thank-you goes out to my client, Robin Bayne for recommending me for this interview.

I appreciate the time I have spent with you today, and hope readers have found my interview helpful and informative. I wish I could have mentioned each author I represent by name, but couldn’t because of space constraints. Please visit the agency link on my web site to learn about these wonderful writers!

Thanks to Tamela Hancock Murray for filling in at the last minute, and to Elaine Isaak for preparing the questions for this and upcoming interviews with industry guests.

We’ll give away at least one book a week. All you have to do is comment to be eligible.

Patricia Rosemoor, BlogMistress

12 comments

  1. Interesting post. I enjoy learning about the way books are chosen for publication.

  2. thanks so much for the insight.. as someone who is working on their first work, its always helpful to read how things work.

  3. Great to see you here, Tamela, and get a “behind the scenes peek” at agenting. I’m glad you’re there for me! Take care.

  4. As one of Tamela’s many clients, may I offer a hearty “amen” to her comment about offering personal attention. Having been in this industry for years/decades, I’ve worked with several outstanding agents, but none who has given me the personal time and career-building attention that I have received from this lady. Besides, every agency (and author career) “needs a blonde”! Love you, Tamela!

  5. Not that I want Tamela overwhelmed with proposal submissions, but I can’t recommend her highly enough. When she says Hartline is the agency with a heart, she’s not kidding. And Tamela demonstrates that patient kindness every time I have a question or express a concern to her.

    Tamela is a total blessing, and it was fun reading about her. Thanks for the interview!

  6. The thing I appreciate most about Tamela … and she’s much too humble to say it herself … is that she has a true gift for communication. I’ve especially appreciated her open door (or open cell phone) policy. She’s honest and straightforward, and very willing to hear beyond the topical. She wants to hear what motivates another person’s actions. This is something that you don’t find often in our business. She is a very patient person, and I’ve benefited from that more than once.

    Tamela, let me just take the opportunity in this very public forum to thank you for your kindness, professionalism, humor and PATIENCE. :-)

    And P.S. – thanks for mentioning me in your blog!

  7. Tamela is a wonderful agent because she understands what her authors are going through, since she’s also an author. It’s fun working with her; she’s enthusiastic about what she does, and she knows the market so well.

  8. I so enjoyed this interview and the excellent overview of how Tamela conducts her business. She’s been my agent for a little over two years, and I know without a doubt that the Lord led me to the exact agent I needed at the time.

    I was blessed recently when she shared that she’d been praying for me on a particular issue. I’m not sure why it hadn’t occurred to me that she might pray….but hearing that she had, touched me deeply. God is indeed good for giving each of the author’s she serves a wonderful agent like Tamela!

  9. As the manuscript coordinator for an ECPA Christian publisher, I work with Tamela frequently. And at the risk of sounding biased, I have to say that Tamela is one of the sweetest, most hardworking agents in the biz. She sets the bar with her uncompromising professionalism and consistent quality of material she represents. Any author would be truly fortunate to have her in their corner.

    Thanks for caring enough to bring us the best of new and established writers in an industry that has become more competitive than ever before. Tamela, you are appreciated!

  10. Let me add my thanks to Tamela for all the hard work she does! I was tickled to pieces when she decided to represent my work. Everything she’s said has added to the quality of my stories, and I’m greatly blessed to have her working with me.

  11. Well I’m not yet a “mid-career” writer – I’m an EMERGING author, so I can’t get the attention yet of someone like Tamela or even be a member of this blog. But I’m paying my dues and staying in contact with this blog and community of writers/readers because one day you will recognize the name of author Marvin D Wilson.

    Peace and Truth, Y’all,

    http://www.owenfiddler.com
    BBAW Award-Winning blog, Free Spirit, at: http://inspiritandtruths.blogspot.com/
    Eye Twitter 2 – http://twitter.com/Paize_Fiddler

  12. DiAnn Mills highly recommended you as an agent.

    Hi Tamela,

    I have submitted a binge eating nonfiction book proposal to three editors at publishing houses who requested it during this years Christian Writer’s Guild Conference.

    I’d love to meet you. Please contact me at cgeerdts@comcast.net, 303-841-1723 (h), 303-250-7964 (c).

    Blessings, Cherrie Geerdts