Thursday, January 5, 2012

2011 was a good year by Terry Burns

I’ve been with Hartline for ten years in February (2/13/02), have been an agent there for five years of that time (10/18/2006), and have been involved in writing and publishing (primarily business oriented) for some twenty years before that time, before I turned to writing fiction and recognized the need for an agent. . Starting a new year seems like a good time to look back over the past year and see how it shook out.

Photo is me with Bonnie Calhoun at ACFW as she received the "Mentor of the Year" Award.

The numbers tell a lot of the story. I ended the year with 61 clients and have done 119 book contracts for them, 23 of them multi-book contracts. That means that 71% of my clients have published since signing with me. That is certainly no record, but it’s not a bad average. I went through over 3400 submissions to select these clients, again surely not a record, but it feels like a lot.

But the numbers don’t tell the entire story. I do work with a large number of new writers and I’m usually in the number one spot on the list of agents placing debut authors on the Publishers Marketplace website. That also means I work with more small publishers than some in helping these debut authors get their start. I get a lot of pleasure out of helping new writers get started.

I do an occasional contract with a client for a single book, but most Hartline clients sign for “all book length work.” That means we are more interested in helping them develop their career, not just sell a book. I helped Jennifer Hudson Taylor get her first book in print and now she has eight books in print or under contract. Max Elliot Anderson had a number of books in print but his publisher went out of business. We were able to find a publisher that would reissue those books and he has gone on to have 17 ‘books for (reluctant reader) boys’ in print or under contract and is still going strong. While with me Jill Williamson won a Christy with her “By Darkness Hid” and though she no longer uses an agent has gone on to win a second Christy.

I require that my clients all be in an online group that gives me an opportunity to contact all of them at once. They do have the option of being in the side of the group that can talk to one another or the side that only receives priority messages from me. The full access side have become very close to one another and have also turned out to be a group of prayer warriors that support one another, celebrate each other’s successes and support each other when projects don’t get picked up. It’s an amazing group.

Just as Joyce got me started in the business I have worked with a number of assistants and some have gone on to an expanded role in the publishing industry. Two have formed small publishing houses that are growing by leaps and bounds. Kristine Pratt founded Written World Communications, and Randall Mooney Crossover Publications. Linda Glaz went from being an assistant to becoming a Hartline agent in her own right, and two, Tammy Barley and Normandie Fischer became editors at Written World. Jennifer Hudson Taylor is now the in-house publicist at Hartline and is getting her own publicist company established as well. I have some new assistants working with me now.

What does the future hold? We have several hundred submissions out for clients and spend a huge amount of time trying to identify that editor that we feel is a good potential fit for a project. The economy may have a lot to do with the amount of success we can expect to see. Changes in the industry have a lot to do with it as well and we work hard to keep our clients positioned on the cutting edges of changes that are occurring, particularly with digital books. Change has always been the hallmark of the publishing industry, but I don’t remember a time when it was as pronounced or as fast moving as it is now.


Kathryn Elliott said...

Congratulations on a fabulous year, Terry! Wishing you many more good things to come.

Heather Marsten said...

Wow, impressive statistics. I see you really put your heart into helping new authors and making sure all you work with have support. I pray that you continue the good work you are doing. There needs to be more Christian books out on the market.
Have a blessed day.