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Andrea Hurst and Associates - Authornomics Blog
by:  Andrea Hurst, Andrea Hurst and Associates; Andrea Hurst Literary Management
Interviews with those in-the-know about what an author needs to know.
August 28, 2014

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with Taryn Fagerness

Taryn Fagerness is the founder and owner of Taryn Fagerness Agency which specializes in representing foreign rights on behalf of North American literary agents and publishers. The Agency also represents a select number of authors domestically. Before opening her own agency in March 2009, Taryn Fagerness spent five years as the Subsidiary Rights Manager and an Agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency in Del Mar, CA.

Can you explain what being a foreign rights agent entails? What does the process involve?

As a foreign rights agent, it’s my job to sell the rights to books into foreign markets. I primarily work with other agents. They find the authors and sell the books to US publishers, and if they retain foreign rights (in some cases the US publisher takes the foreign rights, in which case I’m not involved), I work to sell the books all around the world. For example, I will sell a book into Japan, Germany, and Brazil. The publishers in these territories will pay an advance for the book, translate the book, put a new cover on it, market it locally, and sell the book there. A book can have a whole new and different life in a foreign country. In order to sell books to these foreign countries I work with co-agents all around the world who know their markets inside and out and submit the book locally. I also attend international book fairs where I meet with my co-agents, foreign publishers, and foreign scouts. And I’m on email hours a day, communicating with people, submitting my books, sending out praise and reviews for my books, etc.

What does your average workday look like? How much time do you spend traveling out of the country? How many countries do you work with around the world?

My average work day involves A LOT of email! I submit my books via email, and send out praise, reviews, good news, etc. to get people around the world to pay attention to my projects. I also process payments, review contracts, negotiate deals, work on my catalogs, answer endless questions from foreign publishers, mail books, work on foreign tax forms, and create pitch materials for the books I handle. After all that’s done I read! Each year I usually attend the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and the Frankfurt Book Fair. Each of those is a week long. I also like to visit foreign publishers in their offices, and I’ve visited publishers in Munich, Amsterdam, and Tokyo. I’d say it’s three to four weeks of travel per year. I’ve never actually counted the number of countries I work with around the world. I’d say there are around 20 that are sort of the core territories that are more active, but then there are many smaller territories that crop up now and then. For example, I recently did my first Mongolian deal and Tagalog deal.

What made you decide to open up your own agency in 2009? What were some of the biggest challenges of going out on your own? Benefits?

In 2008 I was at a writer’s conference, and an agent I met there asked me if I had ever thought about doing foreign rights freelance (at the time I was an in-house foreign rights manager). At that time I hadn’t, but the idea percolated for a year. I knew I wanted to move back to Washington State (from San Diego) and opening up my own shop would allow me to do that. I had several agents tell me they would use my foreign rights services, and the next thing you know Taryn Fagerness Agency was born! The biggest challenges are simply juggling everything involved with owning your own business. I joke that I’m the janitor and the president. I have to make important decisions every day, and I also have to take out the trash. I’m also not a huge fan of dealing with more complicated taxes, dealing with foreign tax forms, and processing payments that come in foreign currencies. But the benefits are great! I do work long hours, but I can also go to the grocery store in the middle of the day. I can pick my clients (and I think my clients are the best!), and I love the relationships I’ve been able to develop with my foreign colleagues. I also love helping a book sell well into the foreign.

Can authors work directly with a foreign rights agent or only through a publisher or literary agent?

Authors can work directly with a foreign rights agent, if they can find one who works directly. While I do handle a few authors directly, I’ve learned that I prefer handling foreign rights on behalf of other agents. By doing this I can reach many authors through the “portal” of one agent client, and I don’t have to deal directly with umpteen different people. In other words, via my 20 or so clients I handle hundreds of books, without having to answer questions and email directly with 100s of authors. I have also found that authors often want an agent to help them make decisions about more than just foreign rights. They want career guidance. I’m not in a position to give that, as I only sell foreign rights. This is why many self-published authors still have agents. For guidance and foreign rights (and film rights) services.

Why do some publishers retain foreign rights rather than use a foreign rights agency? What is the benefit either way to an author?

Publishers want to make money. Exploiting foreign rights is a way to do that. Some publishers have an in-house team who works to sell foreign rights. Some use an outside agent (like myself—I handle foreign rights for Patagonia Books, for example). And most use foreign co-agents just like I do. Everyone is actually operating in pretty much the same way to sell foreign rights. The benefit comes in the numbers and the control the author has. If the author’s agent retains foreign rights, the money made from sales will go into the author’s pocket (with a better split). If the publisher holds foreign right, any money made from sales will be applied to the unearned advance (and the split the author receives isn’t as good). Plus, by using me, authors can have closer access to their foreign publishers. For example, I get author approval all foreign deals. When a publisher has rights, they often just accept the deal and tell you later.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at

August 11, 2014

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with author and editor Renni Browne

Renni Browne has been an editor for over fifty years. Before Scribner's hired her in 1966, she was a copy editor for Time-Life Books and assistant fiction editor for Woman's Day. When she left Scribner's she worked part-time for a paperback publisher and a literary agent while reviewing books for Kirkus and Library Journal. In 1968 she became senior editor at Stein & Day, where she stayed seven years until she became a senior editor at William Morrow.

In 1980 she founded The Editorial Department. In 1991 she and Dave King wrote Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, the bestselling title on editing, now in its second edition from HarperCollins. She has written book reviews and magazine articles, appeared on NPR, and given workshops and seminars around the country on topics of interest to writers. She's originally from Charlotte, N.C, and now lives in Asheville with three cats. Hobbies include old-time music festivals, walks in the mountains, and reading fiction.

When did you first decide you wanted to be an editor? What steps did you take to hone your editing skills early on?

I typed my friends' papers in college and made changes and suggestions they thanked me for. My first job, in New York after graduation, was writing and editing promotion copy for a national magazine. My boss fired me--because, he said, "You're a born editor. Take any editorial job you can get, then quit as soon as you've learned everything you can there and take another one." I followed his advice, honing my skills every place I worked, and when Scribner's hired me as an book editor five years later I'd had nineteen jobs!

You founded The Editorial Department in 1980. Can you tell our readers a little bit about your inspiration for starting The Editorial Department?

Most publishers were no longer placing a high priority on the kind of editing I'd been doing for twenty years--my boss at the time told me he paid me too much for me to spend a month editing a bestselling author's novel. As senior editor my job was to cultivate literary agents and acquire books, not edit them in depth. This state of affairs caused some highly skilled editors to drop out of mainstream publishing. I saw an opportunity.

Your book, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, covers a wide range of editing techniques that you developed during your impressive career as an editor in mainstream publishing. What is the greatest benefit a writer can expect to take away from your book?

A manuscript that reads as if it's been written by a pro rather than an amateur.

At what point during the writing process should a writer consider self-editing? Are there times at which you should turn off your “self editor”?

It's a good idea to be aware of self-editing principles from the get-go, but writers shouldn't focus on them when writing a first draft. Let the story flow and the characters go--then self-edit your style and mechanics.

What are some common misconceptions about editing that aspiring authors should be aware of?

Many writers assume editors correct punctuation, typos, word repetitions, etc.--that's actually copyediting, the last stage of editing. Developmental editing comes first: you're likely to get suggestions about plot, characterization, scene construction, architecture, and your literary style in general.

Is it still necessary for writers to hire a different set of eyes before a project’s complete?

Your book is your child--and we simply can't be totally objective about our children. So yes, hire an editor. Many of The Editorial Department's clients have published one or more highly successful books. Their latest book is their latest child, so they hire us again.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at

July 21, 2014

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with Indie Reader Founder Amy Edelman

Amy Holman Edelman, whose background is in Public Relations/Marketing, founded IndieReader in 2009 as a resource for consumers looking for great self-published books. Since that time the brand has expanded to include the IR Discovery Awards (IRDAs), IR Publishing Services (IRPS), IR Publishing, IR Reviews and the just-launched IndieReader In-Store (IRIS), a distribution service for indie (authors) to indie (booksellers).

Can you tell our readers a little bit about, “the essential guide to self-published books and the people who write them”? What inspired you to embark on such a lofty endeavor?

Back at the end of 2008 I read a piece in the book section in The New York Times about self-published authors being signed by traditional publishers. A few weeks later I read the same type of story by Lev Grossman in Time magazine. Then I sat down at my computer thinking there must be a place for readers to find great indie books. To my surprise there wasn’t. This was back in early ’09. So I started IndieReader mostly as a hobby (no aspirations to a “lofty endeavor”!).

What are the benefits of participating in the IndieReader Discovery Awards and what types of industry professionals are involved? Are more established professionals eager to judge the IRDAs for up-and-coming indie authors?

Authors who enter the IRDAs are looking for different things. Some are staunchly indie, so for them we offer the opportunity to be read by bloggers and publicists and media exposure via the winner’s coverage (resulting, of course, in more readers!). But most overwhelmingly, what authors want is an agent to pitch their books to a traditional publisher. For those we offer publishers from the Big 5, in addition to our first-look arrangement with the amazing Dystal & Goderich Literary Agents.

The industry professionals involved include publishers from the Big 5 (so far we have three signed up for the 2015 IRDAs), publicists, bloggers and reviewers. For a full list go to

As far as the second part of your question, yes, they are totally eager since no one—not even the lit agents—know where the next bestselling author is coming from. We offer them the chance to read and discover a book before anyone else does

The site recently announced the IndieReader Discovery Award winners. How difficult was the judging process this year?

The winners are totally based on the final ratings numbers. But in the three plus years we’ve been doing the IRDAs, we’ve discovered some great books which has led to a brand new (no charge!) curation program for books that have received a 4+ star review. Right now we’re working with Scribd (, the new subscription-based book site (like Netflix for books!) but we plan to expand to other services once we’re established there.

What other services does IndieReader offer to authors?

Lots! IndieReader started its Publishing Services (IRPS) shortly after IR was launched because we had authors asking for help with formatting, editing, etc. Next came paid-for reviews, because we were getting inundated with books that we didn’t have time to review.

We recently created an App for finding curated books (in addition to other indie titles for sale), followed by a whole (no fee) curation program for books to which we’ve given 4+ star reviews.

And then there’s IndieReader In-Store (IRIS)…more info here……the first-ever indie (author) to indie (bookstore) distribution service.

What are some effective things an indie author can do to ensure that his or her book can be “discovered”?

To tell the truth, there’s really no way an author—indie or trad pubbed–can “ensure” that their book is discovered and, if it is discovered, that it will do well.

Crown published my novel, Manless in Montclair in ’07. I was a guest on The Today Show and People magazine did a positive, almost full-page review. You would have thought that would have been enough to get me on The New York Times bestseller list, but it was not. Fact is, there is really little correlation— especially these days—between cause and effect, particularly when it comes to something “lightning in a bottle” like a book.

That said, an author can help…putting their contact info on their website (you have no idea how many don’t!), submitting their book to the IRDAs and purchasing reviews. They can schedule on-line media tours, reach out to BookBub, do give-aways. They can make sure that their book is distributed everywhere, not just via Amazon’s KDP (nothing against Amazon, but why would you limit where your books are sold?).

Authors can also think beyond ebooks, putting their titles in the IndieReader In-Store program, the only service that gets indie books in front of indie booksellers (more info on that here…

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at

July 2, 2014

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with best-selling author M.L. Gardner

M.L. Gardner is a best selling author currently living in Northern Utah after spending a decade in the Pacific Northwest. Having grown up a Navy brat, she’s lived everywhere and considers no one place home. Gardner is the author of The 1929 Series and currently blogs about her homecrafting adventures on her website. She collects cats and dreams of opening a no kill shelter in her backyard where she can be surrounded by her feline friends all the time, despite their love of sitting on her keyboard. She is married with three kids and three cats and writes full time, living on cheese and Bing energy drinks.

M.L. Gardner can be found on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.

You are probably best known for your multi-book series, 1929. What attracts you to the historical fiction genre?

Historical fiction is my favorite to read, and having a love of the depression era for many years, it felt the most natural to write.

What drew you to focus on the 1929-1939 Stock Market Crash & Great Depression?

I didn’t so much decide to write in that era, it chose me. When our own market crashed in 2008, ideas started swirling. Originally, 1929 started out as a modern “how to” book for surviving hard times based on the lessons from the Great Depression. It evolved from there, wanting to be something more.

Writing historical fiction takes a lot of research. What are some of your strategies for compiling and organizing your research?

I started with what I already knew, stopping to research what I needed to know. Probably the most helpful books were Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1940 by David E. Kyvig and Rainbows End by Maury Klein. They were very helpful with the technical side of things.

How long of a process is it to sketch out, research, and write a book in the 1929 Series? Can you walk us through your creative process?

My best friend, Lisa is a large part of the creative process. While I do all of the actual writing, I cannot take credit alone for the books. Lisa and I spend a lot of time working on book and plot ideas. She contributes some great ideas that either stand alone or blend perfectly with mine.

I started with the base characters. I got to know them and their personalities. I like to have a road map for a book. Working together from half way around the world, Lisa and I tried to hash out a storyline to follow which proved difficult. We ended up just flying by the seat of our pants and realized that there would be more books. When it came to something I needed to research I would stop, learn, take notes and write it in. So the writing and researching happened simultaneously. It took six months to finish the first book. With all the books since 1929 I have a road map. We start with a basic idea, write a blurb summary with beginning middle and end, then an expanded two page summary catching more details. After that we sit down and do a scene breakdown that is somewhere from five to six pages long. I make a note of all the things I’ll need to research along the way.

Some people think we are vulnerable to another major financial crisis like 1929 here in the USA, or possibly even worldwide. What do you think?

Based on research and history, everything is cyclic. I do believe we will, at some point, see another devastating crash. While I don’t think we will be thrust back to loincloths and starting fires with sticks, I expect it will bring hardships similar to the depression that most are not accustomed to. The better one can prepare for a dramatic economic shift through alternative incomes, homecraft skills and a circle of good friends, the better off they will be.

Is this part of why you went to the country in Northern Utah and practice homesteading?

We moved to Northern Utah for the economy. (We were on a path to complete homesteading in Alaska and realized we were not ready.) There is a lower cost of living here and it is very family friendly. Honestly, everywhere you go people are so nice! We pseudo-homestead. I garden, decorate on a shoestring, use oil lamps, build my own rustic furniture and cook a lot from scratch. In all honesty I have to say these are skills I keep up on, rather than live daily. When I’m compulsively writing, they take a backseat to modern conveniences that allow me to be more productive.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at

A R C H I V E / H I G H L I G H T S

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with author Tracey Garvis Graves
originally posted: April 30, 2014

Tracey Garvis Graves lives in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa with her husband, two children, and hyper dog Chloe. She is the author of On the Island, Uncharted, and Covet. She blogs at using colorful language and a snarky sense of humor to write about pop culture, silly television shows, and her suburban neighborhood. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. She is hard at work on her next book.

For readers new to your books and author career, can you give us a quick overview of the biggest challenges and successes you went through trying to get On the Island published before choosing to self-publish your novel?

I queried fourteen agents and received fourteen form rejections for my debut novel, On the Island. I was devastated because I couldn’t even get an agent to agree to read part of the manuscript. Six months after deciding to self-publish the book, it hit the New York Times bestseller list, made it as high as #7 on Amazon, and was optioned for a feature film by MGM. To date, there have been over half a million copies sold.

What kinds of changes did your debut novel, On the Island, go through once Penguin picked it up?

Penguin puts any books they acquire through a light copyedit. There were no other changes made.

Do you have any updates on where MGM would like to go with the film rights?
A script is currently near completion. I’ll have much more to share on this front in July. My fingers are crossed.

How has your life changed since becoming a best-selling author? In what ways has it affected you as a writer?

When I wrote On the Island I was working full-time. Now I’m a full-time writer. This means a lot more flexibility for me (and a little more sleep). It’s actually been wonderful for our household. Mom is no longer burning the candle at both ends!

What draws you to write contemporary-romance in particular? Have you ever thought about dabbling into other genres?

I am drawn to love stories and anything I write will have a romantic element. However, my latest novel – Covet – is women’s fiction and the book I just finished writing will probably be categorized as romantic suspense. The one I’ve just started outlining is part coming-of-age and part romantic women’s fiction. I’ve always said that I will never write the same book twice. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, because my readers may never know what to expect from me

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with voice talent J. Christopher Dunn
originally posted: April 16, 2014

J. Christopher (Chris) Dunn is a voice actor living and working on Whidbey Island, WA who enjoys early morning walks, trying new and interesting foods, and photographing the natural beauty around the Salish Sea. He's an audiobook narrator and producer with titles available on and also spends time in his studio recording voiceovers for commercials, web videos, podcasts, product demonstrations, on-hold messaging and documentaries. When not in the studio, he creates character voices for radio dramas and can occasionally be spotted in stage performances.

His voice is described as friendly, warm and trustworthy - the guy next door or the voice of high-profile corporate presentations. He delivers voiceovers that sound authentic, confident and experienced. Chris excels at understanding client needs and welcomes direction. Comfortable creating voiceovers for a wide variety of audiences, he is capable of quickly evaluating scripts and creating a voiceover that gives life to any project. Follow him on Twitter @JCDunnVOX and visit him at or

Can you give us an overview of the ever-expanding voiceover field?

Voiceover is anything that deals with spoken word audio. Commercials, web videos, product demonstrations, corporate presentations, documentaries, trailers, and audiobooks are a few of the genres where spoken word audio is used.

We are surrounded by voiceover work. Besides the obvious movies, radio and TV, every telephone voice tree, every prerecorded announcement at airports, and even SIRI on Apple mobile devices…they are all produced by voiceover talent.

How did you first get into voice work?

I started out working in a number of radio stations in Washington and Montana, first as a Production Assistant then an on-air personality and Production Director. The job included producing hundreds of commercials and radio promotions. Part of the production process was reading scripts, either written by a salesperson or me.

What’s one thing people incorrectly assume about your line of work?

So many things come to mind. The biggie is that there are buckets of easy money to be made. The work is not easy! There’s more to it than connecting a microphone to a computer and reading. I’m not only the voiceover talent; I’m also the audio engineer, contract negotiator, marketer, and my own business partner. I find my own work and make sure I’m paid.

There are many spinning plates. It’s hard to make a living when just starting out. The first year or two I didn’t break even. The constant rejection can be a huge downer and drag on the creative process: and not at all fun to deal with. That alone, is difficult for many people entering into voiceovers. There is money to be made. Easy money? Nope. Clearly not

In the voiceover business, how important is having a regional accent? The ability to do accents?

Many of my clients are not on the West Coast or even-Midwest. Most are on the East Coast or in other countries. My accent is neutral, although I’ve been accused of sounding “too American”.

Most often, I’m hired for the lack of accent as it has a wide audience appeal. If a client is looking for a regional accent, they’ll hire somebody from that region.

Audiobooks are different. A narrator can be the voice of several different characters, all with a different ‘sound’. It takes practice to be able to switch convincingly between them. Toss in an accent, and the challenge increases. Some talents are very good at accents. They can adjust their read and delivery to the tastes of the copywriter. Accents don’t have to be spot on; they do have to be convincing, though.

What are some characteristics of your speaking voice that make clients choose you for their projects?

The tonal qualities of my voice match well to long form narration, such as corporate presentations, documentaries, e-learning and audiobooks. It sounds confident, smooth and warm. The registry of my voice is baritone and is flexible enough to handle projects that target a variety of demographics.

Are there particular things clients look for in a voiceover professional?

Clients like talents who listen and ask questions and are willing to bring words to life. Clients rely on voiceover talent to take the script and interpret it in a believable, listenable way. Being able to take direction well is also important.

Sometimes a client doesn’t know what they are looking for and finding a talent that can provide options will improve the chances of the client finally hearing their ‘right’ voice. This also increases the chances of the talent landing the next gig.

What is the most challenging part of being a voice talent? What’s the most rewarding?

The challenge is to bring the listener into the theater of their mind. Voiceover is acting without being physical so a voice talent needs to find ways to emote with their voice instead of relying on body movement or facial expression to portray what’s being said. Apart from an occasional sound effect, there are no props. A voice talent needs to set the stage, act appropriately (or inappropriately!), and engage the listener into believing what’s being said.

For me, the most rewarding part is working with interesting clients and fulfilling their voiceover needs. A close second is having my client return with more projects. It’s a good indicator that I’ve done what they were looking for or gone beyond their expectations. I like happy clients.

Is there a recommended training that a person should go through in order to become a successful voice talent?

Success could depend on a number of elements in voiceover. What makes one successful may not make another as successful. What is success, really? The meaning can be quite different from one talent to the next. Is success measured by income? Does an amazing client list make a talent successful? It’s hard enough breaking into the business that even a talent’s first client could be the definition of success.

Now, with the philosophical part out of the way, before training come the basics. Reading is the primary function of a voice talent. Add to that, the skill of acting. One of the most beneficial things a voice talent can do is continue to learn. Working with a voiceover coach, taking workshops and participating in theater are helpful in developing as a voiceover talent. It might even make success more tangible.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at

A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R

Andrea Hurst, President, has over 25 years experience as a published author, developmental editor for publishers, and skilled literary agent. In addition to our work with high-profile authors and mainstream publishers, our team of industry professionals now offers assistance to writers we do not represent, but who are in need of expert literary guidance in their quest for publication. Whether you need help polishing a query letter or evaluating your manuscript, are curious about custom publishing or on the hunt for a top ghostwriter, we provide the tools and the expertise to succeed in today’s marketplace.