Books, Lynne Patrick, Writing  Comments Off
Oct 012014

As Lynne is unfortunately preoccupied this week, she asked me to step in once more, so forgive the intrusion.

A few years ago, authors never needed to worry about publicity (well, so I believe). The publisher would handle that side of things. These days, of course, the paradigm has changed, and even most of those published by the big houses have to handle their own publicity, unless you’re a major name.

As a writer, I’m very active on social media. Twitter and Facebook are my friends, and I also have a Facebook author page. Of course I have a website, and I tend to blog a couple of times a week. I do author events, libraries and wherever I can. For my most recent book I had bookmarks printed up to give away at events. Cheap but effective, and definitely useful.

But I’m in search of other ideas. It goes without saying (I hope) that most of my Twitter and Facebook activity is interaction rather than blatant promotion. That’s just sensible. Social media is about building a community, and communities need interaction to grow. Become a real person to others and they’ll be interested in you and what you do.

A readership is built one person at a time, and word of mouth is still one of the most powerful tools. People like your book and recommend it to others. As you build a back catalogue, people will search out the books, especially in a series.

Of course, there are some big breaks. An interview in a prestigious magazine, a review by an influential blogger, things like that. They all help in circulating the name.

What I’m curious to learn is what you think are good promotion techniques. There must be many I haven’t considered, and I’m eager to hear. Especially if they cost little or nothing.

Right, the ball’s in your court.

Oct 012014

Josh Getzler


Thanks to everyone for your good wishes while I was out with the shoulder surgery. Still barking a bit after two weeks, and I've got an I-Can't-Shave beard going and am still sleeping upright on the couch. But getting there. Thanks to Danielle Burby and Todd Moss for posting the past two weeks.


One of the more exciting things that happened in the past month is that Book Culture, an independent bookstore that lost its lease uptown, announced that it was reopening in one of the retail spaces below my apartment building. And instead of putting up the usual brown butcher's paper to cover the windows during renovation, they put up a happy sign telling the story of the return of a bookstore to the former site of an older store, Endicott Books, which was one of the inspirations for You've Got Mail.


This weekend, my wife and I were taking a walk and saw that there were a bunch of brightly colored stickies on the window of the store. Turns out that an anonymous Upper West Sider decided to create an Old School Pinterest board and put out a bunch of sticky pads and Sharpies and asked the neighbors to write notes about the new store, take photos, and post on Twitter with #BOOKCULTURE. And they did. And the neighborhood is truly giddy. More next week, but here are a couple of very happy pictures.


Bookstore stickies (2)


Bookstore sign (2)

Sep 292014

Jeff Cohen

Seriously: Have I ever given you any indication that I know how to get thousands of people to look at a blog piece? On a good day, I get 200 people to visit here.

You're a little ticked off now, right?

But marketing is a necessity to the author. (Don't ask, "The author of what?" Just go with it.) It's not about trickery and it's not about lying to the reader. Do those things and you might get someone to take a look. Once. What are you going to do now that you've annoyed them? What have you accomplished?

I can't claim to have the magical formula that will bring the thundering hordes to your blog post, your Facebook page, your web site or your front door. Anyone who tells you they know for sure is lying or mistaken. But I can tell you what certain DOESN'T work, and I can say so with confidence, since I have tried each one and watched it fail in a spectacular fashion.

  1. Promising a visitor something you can't deliver. This is especially good at getting people mad at you. Because the intelligent ones will realize immediately that you're a fraud, and the less intelligent ones will try what you advocate, fail, and blame you.
  2. Making general statements based only on your experience. If you want to blog about yourself, that's fine. I do it sometimes, and posts about my daughter, my dog and my wife have attracted some of the larger audiences I've gotten here. But don't try to extrapolate your experience and make the reader think it will definitely apply under any circumstance. You don't know, because your experience is just that--yours.
  3. Stating something without doing the research. If you want to make a statement, make it. But be sure you're right. I have gone off on a tear at times here and made statements that, when I was typing them, felt great--only to find out I was astonishingly wrong. Colossally wrong. I mean, wrong. Check first.
  4. Politics, religion--what could go wrong? Everything. Write about the "forbidden" topics if you want. That's your right. But go in knowing for sure that your opinions are definitely going to piss some people off. And maybe you know in your heart they're just wrong, and what the hell--maybe they are. It won't convince them of anything and it won't make them less mad. It's fine to do if that's the kind of blog you want, but don't be naive about it--you're going to annoy. Be prepared to deal with the consequences.
  5. Making your post a flat-out sales pitch for your book. I have done this one (see two weeks ago, sort of) and I promise you I will do so again. That's perfectly fine--this is a forum about crime fiction and I write crime fiction. The reader is always free to click elsewhere. But doing nothing BUT hawking your book is just going to bore and irritate. The fiction you write isn't the only place you have to worry about entertaining an audience. And by the way, I have a Question of Missing Headbook coming out in exactly 16 days.

This week's reminder: The MISSING HEAD CHALLENGE is scheduled for--waddaya know!--16 days from today, on October 8! Buy a copy of THE QUESTION OF THE MISSING HEAD by E.J. Copperman/Jeff Cohen and take a photo of yourself with the book (or title page of the ebook). Post said picture on Facebook or Twitter for all (especially me) to see. For everyone who does that on Pub Day (which you might have heard is October 8), I will donate $3 to ASPEN, the Autism SPectrum Education Network, and our own Josh Getzler's HSG Agency will match the donation. That pledge is good for the first 100 people to post--be one of them! 

Sep 292014

Jeff Cohen

For those of you who've been asking, yes, Question of Missing HeadTHE QUESTION OF THE MISSING HEAD is indeed going to be available as an ebook for virtually any reader you own. The big e-book sites should now have it listed. Sorry for the delay.

Also: The MISSING HEAD CHALLENGE is growing! Take a picture of yourself with your copy (or the title page on your e-reader) and post it on Twitter or Facebook. For the first 100 people who do so on publication day October 8, I'll donate $3--to be matched by Josh's HSG Agency--to the Autism SPectrum Education Network (ASPEN). A little over a week to go!

And I'm told that our very own Terri's Midnight Ink, which is publishing THE QUESTION OF THE MISSING HEAD will also match the donation, so make sure you get a book on October 8 and post that picture--you'll be donating $9 to ASPEN without spending an extra dime!

An Author's Journey

  1. Trying to get an idea: Why didn't I get a REGULAR job?
  2. Not trying to get an idea--the idea comes! I LOVE this! I have to write it immediately!
  3. Sitting down to write: Um... I know where I want to go... how do I START?
  4. Starting: I'll fix this later.
  5. Procrastinate.
  6. Naming characters: Where are phone books when you need them?
  7. Plot begins: Okay, this time be careful about the timeline.
  8. First third: This is all exposition! I can't write!
  9. Procrastinate.
  10. Middle: I'm adding plot twists just to get to the end of a chapter. I can't write!
  11. Exact midpoint in word count: You mean this thing isn't over yet?
  12. Beginning second half: There is no way this is going to stretch over 80,000 words.
  13. Wake up at 3 a.m.: Now I know who the murderer is! Go back to sleep, honey.
  14. Plod through to 2/3rds point: Do I remember everything about my story?
  15. Forget a story point from p. 23 and have to fix it: I can't write!
  16. Notice you're on p. 186 and one of your characters hasn't been seen since p. 17: Cut or rewrite? CUT!
  17. Having cut, you are now 1000 words lower than yesterday: I could double up today or...
  18. Procrastinate.
  19. Kick into gear to drive toward an ending: Wait! Now the day I'm writing has to be 75 hours long!
  20. Visualize the ending: I'm going to sleep for a week.
  21. Write the climactic scene: I was trying to AVOID the killer explaining it all! Oh, well...
  22. Write the aftermath: Favorite part. Get the Haagen Dazs softened.
  23. Type in THE END: I am a genius author! Except for all those rough parts.
  24. Do a "quick" read-through before submission. This will take a week! How could I write THAT?
  25. Submit manuscript to author. Now I really WILL sleep for a week.
  26. Wake up at 3 a.m.: Wait! This one plot point negates the whole story!
  27. Contact editor with instructions not to read previously submitted manuscript. I'm an idiot.
  28. Read through book AGAIN, fixing problems. If I have to look at p. 1 again, I'm going to throw up.
  29. Wait months. I have forgotten how to write.
  30. Get editorial letter. The whole thing is a disaster! I have to rewrite from p. 1!
  31. Re-read editorial letter the next day: Actually, this shouldn't be too bad.
  32. Procrastinate.
  33. Do all rewrites in two days: I'm a fireman, putting out fires...
  34. Receive questions for editor: Timeline problems??? Can't someone else solve this? 
  35. Get approved for publication: Finally done with this one!
  36. Get first-pass pages: This thing again? Wasn't this published two years ago?
  37. Return first pass pages: I am king of the world! This book is finally done!
  38. Get questions from production editor: I HATE THIS BOOK!
  39. Publication day: This is the best thing I've ever done.
Sep 282014

Jessy Randall

Did you know that the author of the first detective novel was a woman, Anna Katharine Green?

No, I'm not saying the first woman author of a detective novel was Anna Katharine Green. I'm saying that the first author of a detective novel was Anna Katharine Green, a woman.


Shouldn't we have heard of her before? Why haven't we heard of her?! Is it because of the patriarchy? Is it because her books aren't widely read any more? Bit of both, I'm guessing, but let's look into it.

She was born in 1846 and published The Leavenworth Case, the first detective novel EVER by ANYONE, in 1878. You can download the full text of the novel from the Gutenberg Project for free.

More next week.


Sep 242014

Lynne Patrick

I sort of drifted into freelancing when my daughter was very small, as a way of fitting work around motherhood, and after that it kind of... grew. Sometimes.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write, but as all writers know, at least in the early stages it’s something you do as well as earning a living, running the home, being part of a family and network of friends etc etc – i.e. real life. It took me a decade or three – just over three, in fact – to realize that being able to put words together in a readable way was a marketable skill, and a while longer to convince other people that they should pay me for exercising it. Like most freelance and creative pursuits, success is relative, and can be as much a matter of making the right contacts as having the right ability.

But this isn’t the story of my life: just a lead-in to the situation I’ve found myself in over the past few weeks. Not that it only applies to the last few weeks; it’s the way things have been ever since I became established. Though, like success, that’s a relative term too.

I’ve returned to the freelance life since I came back from the dark side. Not that I abandoned it completely; running a small indie publishing house took up 90% of my time for seven years, but the remaining ten percent kept a few things ticking over, and actually generated another strand. And I soon discovered that a key factor of freelancing was still very much the case – it’s famine or feast, and there’s rarely a middle ground. I’ve never really minded, apart from the money factor; the famine times allow me to spend some time writing what I love best but sell least – fiction.

Before I went on holiday it was famine, and seemed set fair to become more so. The theatre reviewing which had been a cornerstone almost since I set out along the freelance road has almost come to an end; policy changes, budget cuts, whatever, at the local paper have taken care of that. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and similar advertising media (and that’s exactly what they are, whether or not they choose to admit it) seem to be the way to promote a freelance service these days, but for reasons more associated with human nature than technology they scare me to death and I refuse to use them, so my editorial consultancy only gathers clients by word of mouth, and is therefore thinner than it used to be.

Six weeks ago I was beginning to wonder if someone up there was telling me it was time to buckle down and get on with the novel-in-progress. There’s always a novel-in-progress. It was moving quite well a month ago.

Then, as it has so often in the past, everything changed, and our fortnight in France proved something of a watershed. I don’t take a laptop on holiday, don’t even possess any of the dinky little devices that let you borrow someone else’s wifi to check your e-mail, but my daughter can’t bear to be parted from hers, so for reasons unrelated to work I found myself checking mine a few times while we were away.

Three times, to be precise.

The first time, there was a request to write a series of weekly features for a newspaper. The second time, an editorial consultancy client (word of mouth recommendation still works) who had gone underground for a few months resurfaced. And the third time, a small publishing company I’ve dealt with several times asked me to edit the new book by one of my favourite authors.

Then, a couple of days after I arrived home, another newspaper put in a request for another series of features. And the editorial consultancy client submitted a hefty chunk of first-draft manuscript for early feedback. And there were three theatres for review in the diary, though they may prove to be the last. And the novel for editing was waiting.

So too is my own novel. I’ve had to put a couple of non-paying jobs on hold: an author profile I promised the editor of a small e-zine, and reading a friend’s short story. I will get to it, all of it; if I’ve learned one thing about the freelance life, it’s that you never turn work down and you always deliver. OK, two things.

And there’s always time for reading crime fiction. And blog posts.

Sep 232014

Todd Moss


This week I’m very pleased to welcome as guest Tuesday Dead Guy author Todd Moss, whose Golden Hour (Putnam) is available at all the usual outlets, plus airports, train stations, Costco, and think tanks everywhere. Todd has been let loose the past few weeks, following publication; but his experiences may have been slightly different from what either he or you might have expected.

TMoss Cover (2)

I had no idea what to expect from the book tour for my debut thriller THE GOLDEN HOUR, released September 4th. I’d written several nonfiction books and had spoken in front of groups about foreign policy hundreds of times, but this was my first foray into fiction and certainly my first book tour. It’s been strange, nerve-wracking, and pretty cool all at the same time.  Here’s what I think I’ve learned so far.

  Todd sitting (2)

It’s okay to be excited. After all the hours alone in the office and alone in my head, the novel is now, finally, out there. And people who’ve heard about it, want to meet the author. I’ve been really struck at the number of friends (some I haven’t seen since high school!) who are both giddy and gracious about my first novel. Most haven’t even read it yet, yet it’s been tremendously gratifying and humbling to receive the flood of emails, Facebook messages, and even knocks on my front door. I’m a guy who normally shirks away from being the center of attention, so I’ve had to force myself to soak it all in, to take a few moments to just enjoy it. And even at 44 years old, it feels good to make your parents proud. 

  Housto airport 2

Yeah, no one knows you… yet. While friends and family have been pouring it on thick, no debut author has a fan base. This means any “book tour” sounds like a grand affair… but it’s not. I’d assumed that book signings would be at big box bookshops in cities like New York, Los Angeles, perhaps Atlanta and Chicago. Nope. After two launch events in my hometown of Washington DC, my publisher sent me to independent shops in Arizona and Texas. At first, I didn’t quite get it either. Then it was patiently explained what should have been obvious:  “No one knows you yet. No one will show up, especially in the big crowded markets.”  So instead, my stops have been specialty crime and thriller bookshops. Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale organized an intimate discussion about my book and, in an age of ISIS and Ebola, the role of America around the world. Murder by the Book in Houston hosted a reading and Q&A with around forty thriller fans.  Just as importantly as these in-person events, both shops provided a marvelous platform for tapping into their enthusiastic reader networks. Even if you aren’t generating lines around the block, it’s still exhilarating to sign a tall stack of your own books! (Note from JG--This was the best photo we had--it was after Todd had already signed the tall stack, and folks were carrying their own copies to him by then. Because even better than signing the tall stack is SELLING OUT the tall stack...)

  Todd signing (3)


Todd and stock of books

A modern tour is much more than bookshops. I keep hearing that the halcyon days oflarge crowds to meet authors are largely over for all but the most famous writers.  So, in addition to a handful of select bookshop appearances, I’m talking about THE GOLDEN HOUR at lots of other venues that can draw interested crowds. Since my thriller revolves around a professor who works inside the U.S. Government, I’m speaking at colleges (Columbia, Pomona, Texas A&M, Tufts, Harvard) and related professional associations (World Affairs Councils, think tanks). I’m also promoting the book through radio, newspaper opeds, social media, and even a few TV shows. Each of these hits relatively small audiences, but they accumulate. These efforts, I hope, will build fan momentum for the next book… and maybe even a more ambitious second tour?


In the end, that’s the point: lots of small steps toward a fan base who will love your book, tell their friends, and (fingers crossed!) buy the sequel. 


Todd Moss, senior fellow and COO at the Center for Global Development in Washington DC and the former top US diplomat for West Africa, is author of THE GOLDEN HOUR, the first in the Judd Ryker series from Penguin’s Putnam Books. Todd is represented by Josh Getzler. 

Sep 222014

Jeff Cohen

Let us consider for a moment Derek-Jeter-will-be-the-last-Yankee-player-to-wear-2-Image-from-MLBDerek Jeter.

Assuming you are not living on Jupiter, the news might have passed by your eyes and ears that Mr. Jeter, who is an employee of the New York Yankees, will retire, in every likelihood, late next Sunday, the 28th of September after a 20-year career with the firm. 

Non-sports fans: I promise there will be some relevance beyond baseball statistics, but you'll have to bear with me.

My daughter and I went to see him ply his trade Friday night at his office, 161st St. and River Avenue in the Bronx, New York. While not the same office in which he began his illustrious career, it bears the same name: Yankee Stadium. And don't think for a moment we were there for any reason other than to pay our respects one last time.

He was as gracious a host as ever, helping to produce a win for the home team with two hits and some nice fielding plays. And he tried his best not to notice the fact that the crowd of more than 40,000 people gathered there had done so specifically to see him and not the rest of the team, since this has been a dismal season for the home squad, and the immediate future is better not considered at all because it will be like this, except without Derek Jeter.

I'm a lifelong Yankee fan and make no apologies. In my five decades of paying attention to this team, I have not seen a player as beloved as Jeter. I saw Mickey Mantle play in person, and he was basically a god in the sport. I lived through the bleak years and saw Don Mattingly as the only bright light on the dark horizon and he was adored in the fans' eyes. But neither of them was Derek Jeter.

In five years, give or take a few months, Derek Jeter will be in Cooperstown, New York to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. That is not debatable; it will happen. And while his statistics in the sport are indeed impressive, he was never the flashiest player on the field. Many mediocre players hit more home runs. Even in his younger days there were those who questioned his fielding range. Now a group of statistics cultists explain how he's really not all that good a player. 

They're wrong, but that's beside the point. Derek Jeter is the ultimate Yankee, the face of all Major League Baseball, because of his parents insistence from a very young age that he behave like a gentleman and be responsible all his life. He has not disgraced them, ever.

Dating supermodels, actresses and anybody else who might grace the cover of Maxim? Sure, he did that. Have a little practical joke fun with teammates, acquaintances, even reporters? Yeah, that was part of the deal with Jeter. Did he ever give an Derek-Jeters-Plans-to-Retire-After-2014-MLB-Seasoninteresting interview? No. The answers were bland and information-free, and that led to zero scandals and no horrifying revelations. Did he let us in to see what the innermost Jeter was like? Sorry; that was for family and friends. Mostly family.

What Jeter gave the fans was his best effort, every single time. It's unfortunate that most players don't run as hard as they can on every ground ball, because they know they're going to be thrown out. Jeter ran every time. Every time.

In an era where sports news is a combination of police blotter, financial reporting and pharmacology, Derek Jeter (while making boatloads of money, let's be fair) has always been about the team first. He did what it took to win, and he won a lot. His statistics were secondary--the only thing that mattered was whether or not the game was a victory. A season without a World Series title was a failure. End of story.

Derek Jeter will retire universally respected throughout the world of sports. He will be given a ceremony Sunday to send him off in grand style, and he'll get it at Fenway Park, home of the Yankees' most bitter rivals. Expect the fans, who have booed Jeter for decades, to stand and cheer, and mean it.

If you are not a Yankee fan, a baseball fan or a sports fan but read this blog each week or (hopefully) each day for perspective on the publishing business, consider this: Once he retires, Derek Jeter could literally do anything he wants to do. Star in television and film? He could. He hosted Saturday Night Live some years ago and did not embarrass himself. Become a media mogul? Sure, it's possible.

Could he devote himself to charitable works? His Turn 2 Foundation has done a lot to help kids live healthy lives and turn away from drugs and gang violence in tough areas. Jeter could certainly make that his key focus.

Famous as he is, Jeter17n-1-webDerek Jeter could do all those things, and probably will do some of them. He's said he wants to travel, that he would like to start a family. He has mentioned the possibility of owning at least part of a Major League team (Josh, could you advise him on that?). At this time in his life, it is not an overstatement to say that anything he decides to do is a strong possibility, and that he will probably be successful at any or all of these things.

But the first venture that will definitely be on Jeter's agenda after the hoopla dies out next Sunday and then there is no more Derek Jeter in baseball? 

Derek Jeter is starting his own publishing company, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. You have to love a guy who likes books.

This week's reminder: Question of Missing HeadThe MISSING HEAD CHALLENGE is scheduled for--waddaya know!--16 days from today, on October 8! Buy a copy of THE QUESTION OF THE MISSING HEAD by E.J. Copperman/Jeff Cohen and take a photo of yourself with the book (or title page of the ebook). Post said picture on Facebook or Twitter for all (especially me) to see. For everyone who does that on Pub Day (which you might have heard is October 8), I will donate $3 to ASPEN, the Autism SPectrum Education Network, and our own Josh Getzler's HSG Agency will match the donation. That pledge is good for the first 100 people to post--be one of them! 

Sep 182014

At every writer's conference I am invited to, I participate in a few panels, take pitches, and do critiques. As for the panels, it is usually made up of editors and agents, but occassionally just editors. Regardless, we get some commonly asked questions. I am going to tackle a few here.

Why do I need an agent?
If you are hoping to be published by the big New York houses, you need an agent to get in the door. And for me, I no longer accept unagented submissions unless I have requested your manuscript after meeting you at a conference.

As an editor, I expect submissions from agents to be polished. Sure, I am going to ask for some revisions, but a good agent will have tightened and tweaked your manuscript. You agent should be shaping that manuscript/series and managing your writing career.

Finally, the agent deals with all the business crap that comes with publishing. He or she will negotiate the contract, which means better terms for you. And if something comes up, I can work with agent on the problem, rather than muddying my creative relationship with the author. There is much more to the author/agent/editor relationship, but to me, these are the biggest points.

Will you publish a book I have already self published? Will you pick up book three in my series (first two were self published or traditionally published)?

There is no absolute yes or no answer here. But it definitely leans toward probably not. If a book is published in print form, there will be sales numbers attached to the book. If those numbers are low, it's a risk to pick up that series. If it's only pubbed in ebook, there is no central reporting place, so the publisher may ask you to supply statements showing sales, otherwise we are blindly trusting the author. Publishers are far more comfortable with new work. BUT, this is an ever evolving situation. The answer to this might be completely different in six months from now.

Do I need a platform?

In non-fiction, yes. In fiction, no. But about six months before publication date, I want the author to at least have a clean website and a facebook page. You don't need to be hyper active online - you have to find the balance between social media, writing, and living the rest of your life which probably invovles a day job, kids, pets, family. So figure out what you are comfortable with and go from there.

What trends do you see?

Don't write to a trend, write the story that is inside you. Paranormal is waning. It will never go away though. So if your story is about Valkyries and vampires, write it!

What is your day like? How many submissions do you get? What makes you reject manuscripts?

see my previous posts for that

How do you feel about indie publishing vs traditional publishing?

I think the smartest authors are ones that are following the hybrid model. There are advantages to both indie and traditional publishing. As an indie author, it's difficult to get media exposure (Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus, Library Journal, Booklist, etc.) As a traditional author, you don't get to control the process and your royalties are significantly less. So do both, and let the two paths build on each other. And if you are traditionally published, it also gives you greater security to publish with two different publishers. Putting all your eggs in one basket is risky, no matter who holds the basket.

And one last note -

If you are going to self publish, please hire an editor to make sure your manuscript is solid and clean. Pubbing a book filled with errors will do you no favors. Consider this your business - everything you put out needs to look professional and polished. This also goes for submitting to agents and editors. My time is valuable, and if you send me a manuscript filled with typos and errors, you will not get the benefit of the doubt. Your manuscript will be automatically rejected. And I will remember that if you submit again.

What other questions do you have? I would be happy to answer them in the comments section or in a future blog post. Have a happy Thursday!

Sep 162014

Danielle Burby 

When Josh asked me to take over his blog for today (because he is still recovering from shoulder surgery), I couldn't, for the life of me, decide what I wanted to write about. Foreign rights? The vote for Scottish independence and the power of the historical narrative to impact life today? Why I love stories that tackle social issues? Nah. But there is something people have been asking me about a lot recently and that I'm never sure quite how to handle. It's something I love discussing, but feel a little bit strange talking about with people who know me in my publishing life. My experience as a junior agent/playwright. 
For those who don't know, I am a produced, and agented, playwright. It's a big, crazy, adventure that I never explicitly planned to take, but that brings me some of the greatest pride and joy I've ever felt. 
Ultimately, I see my two careers as very different, but complementary, parts of my life. I strongly believe that being a writer myself makes me much more sensitive to the needs of authors, especially when it comes to communication on the editorial side. I, too, have had people tell me, "I love your work, but please tear up the entire thing and rewrite it." I have been given editorial advice I didn't agree with and stood my ground, defended my choices. On the flip side, I have also learned to hear criticism, no matter how painful it may be, and to accept when I need to make changes. I honestly don't want to tell you how many times I rewrote my first play. I actually changed the ending midway through the play's run, if you can believe it! Now, although the play has already been produced and reviewed, I know I'll have to go in and make more changes if I want it to move up in the production ranks, as I hope it does. 
What this means for the writers I work with is that I understand exactly what I 'm asking of them when I write a big fat editorial letter and say, "So look...we need to completely rework the structure here," or, "That character that we both love actually doesn't belong in this particular book," or even, "You might want to consider changing genres." I give my notes with all the empathy in the word and I have the battle scars to prove it. 
Working on the agenting side also gives me a very clear perspective as to what it's like out there for writers. It shows me how important it is to be polite and professional at all times, whether you're a writer, an editor, or an agent. I've learned the importance of email tone and how to develop relationships. I think every writer should make a real effort to understand the business side of the industry because sometimes, when wrapped up in the creative side, it can be hard to remember that that's just what this is: a business. 
However, it is a business that revolves around creativity. One of my favorite parts of my job is looking into the heart of a narrative and figuring out, with the author, how to bring it to the surface. I love talking to authors about their visions and working as a team to strengthen their ideas and take the book another step forward. As a writer, I know that there's only so far you can bring a story on your own. As a publishing professional, I like to be the person, or one of the people, who helps someone take their novel one step farther. 
Ultimately, I'm a fiction junkie and I love being part of the conversation, whether as a reader, a writer, or a junior agent/assistant. So yes, I am both a person who writes and a person who works with writers. I love those dual roles because they give me a broader perspective, and by understanding both sides of the same coin, my love for each is cemented and my ability in each is strengthened. I wouldn't have it any other way.