December 10 – 16: “Why do agents attend writer’s conferences?”

This week, we join Paige Wheeler and Josh Getzler to get the inside scoop on why literary agents attend writer’s conferences. You won’t want to miss it!


As a founding partner of Folio Literary Management, LLC., Paige Wheeler has artfully merged her creativity and business savvy to create an agency that is dedicated to maximizing author potential. Prior to forming Folio in 2006, Paige founded Creative Media Agency (CMA) in 1997 and served as its President for nine years. With an entrepreneurial spirit ignited by the thrill of discovery, Paige ventured to support her clients and their unique voices in an unprecedented way. Through Folio she is now able to provide the ability to manage intellectual property rights of authors by selling both domestic and foreign rights, co-agenting film and audio rights, as well as offering the services of a speakers bureau and licensing agency..

Josh Getzler left Harcourt in 1993 to get an MBA from Columbia Business School. After Business School, Josh spent 11 years owning and operating a minor league baseball team (the Staten Island Yankees). He left baseball in late 2006 and rejoined the book world on the agent side. Josh worked at Writers House until November 2009, building a list of novelists, YA and children’s book authors, and the occasional nonfiction writer; then joined Russell and Volkening. Josh represents fiction and nonfiction (mostly fiction, much of which is crime-related (mystery, thriller, creepy…)), adult and YA/middle-grade books (though not picture books). He is particularly into foreign and historical thrillers and mysteries, so send your ruthless doges and impious cardinals…and your farmhouse cozies! Give him atmosphere, let him learn something about another time or another place (or both), and kill off nasty Uncle Mortimer in the process—Josh will be yours! For more information on Josh’s most recent sales, please see his Publishers Marketplace profile. Josh also tweets under @jgetzler.

  1. This is a good question! I attend writer’s conferences for a number of reasons. My first reason, of course, is to discover promising new writers. I also appreciate the opportunity to get together with editors on a more casual basis and to further develop those relationships. Finally, I often travel to conference to meet with authors who are already my clients. I find that having a one-on-one with a client is often very helpful in career planning and further cementing our relationship. I’m also pretty passionate about sharing industry information through workshops and panels and appreciate all of the terrific feedback from other agents, editors and even authors themselves!

  2. I’ve been going to writers conferences since my second year as an agent, in 2008. At that point, as a newer agent, I attended some of the smaller, more regional conferences, with a general mandate to talk to writers and hear What’s Happening Out There. As time passed, and I began to specialize more—particularly when I started to take on a number of mystery and thriller writers, I began to attend genre-specific conferences; Sleuthfest, Crime Bake, Love Is Murder, Thrillerfest, Bouchercon. Some of those were more regional (many I-95 strip-joint and Key West houseboat thrillers at Sleuthfest; more Irish Cop procedurals at Crime Bake). Thrillerfest and Bouchercon, on the other hand, are more like trade shows with panel discussions, rather than workshops. Fans come to those; writers go to the regionals.

    And that’s one of the terrific things about attending both kinds of shows. At the regionals, I’m talking mostly to authors who haven’t yet been published, or are thinking about writing their first books. It gives me an opportunity to gauge what I might be seeing next (which becomes very stark, incidentally, at the Agentfest speed-dating session at Thrillerfest, where one year I’ll see ten WW2 spy novels and the next year medical thrillers), and get feedback as to writers’ hopes and fears about the industry. At the national conferences, I get a chance to have a kind of one-stop shopping weekend of industry friends, where I might have ten meetings in two days with editors whose offices are not more than a half-mile of my office—but where we need to meet in, say, San Francisco in order to see each other. I also can get many of my own authors together, where they can say all the bad things about me that they want! And go bowling, where we lose to Stacia Decker’s team.

    Ultimately, I go to conferences because I like to geek-out with like-minded people about publishing and books, often in a city I don’t know well but get an opportunity to explore. I used to say I was only truly satisfied with my attendance at a conference if I scored a new client or furthered a deal toward completion. Now it’s more about cementing relationships and understanding industry trends. And bowling.

  3. Thanks for the information about the genre-specific conferences (&the names of some)
    I appreciate it. I’ll follow U on Twitter- I’m @CityCastles will look for your tweets.
    I write children’s books & mysteries.

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