Nathan Bransford, Author


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Guest Blogger: Katherine Fausset on Her Literary Utopia

Katherine Fausset is an agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd., New York.

Dear Lucky Readers of the Nathan Bransford’s Blog,

Why are you lucky? Because every time you visit this blog you are getting—for free, I might add—a hot cup of freshly brewed, anti-oxidant rich, organically-grown publishing wisdom from a superb blend of literary agent and reality tv connoisseur. In my fantasy world, writers who are just starting out would have all read Nathan’s informative and entertaining posts about the best ways to query an agent, craft a cover letter, and navigate their way in the early stages of the publishing process, before submitting work to agents.

Also in my fantasy world (since we’re on the subject):

-Chain bookstores would invent a device that could scan customers’ souls to determine which books they would find most meaningful (including, but not limited to, all the wonderful midlist, backlist, barely-made-it-onto-any list titles which don’t necessarily appear on front-of-store display titles.)

-The number of calories burned per minute from reading would be equivalent to swimming against a fast-moving current in ankle weights and a too-large flannel shirt.

-A new episode of The Office would air every night of the week.

-A series of industry-wide discussions on the current and future state of the e-book would result in an e-book royalty rate that would make everyone on all sides of the table feel warm and fuzzy inside.

-One could actually go to Mel’s Diner, order a short stack, and be told by a certain sassy redhead to “kiss her grits.”

-There would be enough time in the day for agents (at least this agent) to send back thoughtful, useful, in-depth comments to every single writer who submits his or her work.

-Women’s magazines would publish short fiction.

-New writers seeking publication would join a writers’ group, and/or enroll in a writing class or workshop, and/or seek some kind of critical feedback from a trusted source (i.e. not someone related to you or who owes you money) before submitting their work to agents.

-I wouldn’t have yet read Nathan Englander, David Mitchell, Donna Tart, Brady Udall, Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novels, Frederic Tuten’s short stories, or Matthew Stadler’s Allan Stein (to name just a very few) so I could experience reading them again for the first time. (I’m not including my own clients here because if I hadn’t yet read them then I wouldn’t be an agent, Nathan wouldn’t have invited me to write this blog, and I wouldn’t have been able to create this fantasy world in the first place. Otherwise, I would want to read all of my authors’ books for the first time, too.)
Alternatively, there would be a law requiring everyone, once a year, to take a day off to re-read a beloved book.

-Every person on earth would give or receive a book as a gift this year.


My blog was going to be about e-books, in which I was going to ask people when and where they tend to use their e-book readers, but then I got carried away with—and delighted by—my book-centric, nerdy utopia. So thank you for indulging me.

Lastly, I wonder, what does a certain literary agent blogger take with him to read on a long vacation?






40 comments:

Josephine Damian said...

If Nathan's on his honeymoon, I'm guessing reading ain't a priority ;-)

Anonymous said...

One to add to your utopia: Curtis Brown would actually have its own website so readers could find out about its agents.

You, my friend, are hilarious. You should have your own blog.

BarbS. said...

Betcha he's got the Kindle with him!

Marilyn Peake said...

Hi, Katherine,

I feel very lucky to have discovered this Blog. And I absolutely LOVE your Utopia. If I could buy tickets, I would take a vacation there. It sounds so thoughtful, so creative, and so wonderfully steeped in books.

Melanie Avila said...

I agree - I LOVE this post! I wish I could live in your utopia, although I might have to substitute french toast for the pancakes. ;)

Thanks for helping Nathan!

Kristan said...

Ah, all good thoughts and questions. I particularly agree with the idea that everyone should get a day off to re-read a beloved book.

Thanks for the guest post!

Susan said...

Oh, I want to live in your world! LOL The soul-scanner would be bliss.

Women's magazines do include short fiction, lots of it, in the UK. They pay well too, but don't often have websites. One of my favourite blogs, womagwriter.blogspot.com has tips.

I love your last point -- We're having an all-book literary Christmas this year in our family, and I can't wait! I'm not sure if the kids agree...(but there's a nice surprise in it for them too)

BarbS. said...

O.K., now that the plumber's finished inflicting more havoc around here (Good heavens, why can't plumbers find pants to sufficiently upholster themselves???)...

Yes, that's a wonderful world you've created, Katherine! May I add "multiple translations of foreign-language books, to give readers a better idea of what the author meant to convey"?

Aside from that, yep, books and books-only gift cards are the only gifts we give around here. ;)

Roy Hayward said...

I have at least part of your Utopia/Fantasy world. In our family (even extended) Santa is old Fashioned and brings everyone a book for their stocking. (This is a practice I recommend to all those who celebrate Christmas.)

On your other topic. I have an e-book reader on my phone that reads the same format as the Kindle. So I take it everywhere I take my phone. (That leaves out the pool, and the shower.) Of the books I have read so far this year, slightly less than half were read on my phone. (I expect that number and percentage to increase next year.)

Zoe Winters said...

hehehe don't you think soul-scanning is kinda creepy though? :P

Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

in other news, Obama has boosted the publishing world with a slight mention of a book about FDR on the news yesterday...

shilohwalker said...

Sounds like my kind of utopia. One thing I'd add is that all the books I want to read would be available in ebook as well as print.

Tami said...

I concur with...anonymous, up there. Where's YOUR blog?

Secondly, I can't seem to find a "search" function on this blog, which means I can't do a search to see if Nathan's given any advice or opinions with regards to writing classes or groups. I thought that was a very interesting piece of advice (or, rather, piece of your utopia. I figure if it's in your utopia, it's probably in other agents' utopias as well. Utopiai. Utopsis. Whatever).

Great post, and I completely agree on reading a book for the first time again. Ah, the thrill of Ender's Game, and Watership Down, or being welcomed into Callahan's Bar for the first time. That would be a great thing to relive. Rereading them once a year (law or no!) will simply have to suffice.

Roy Hayward said...

tami,

I have a search field in the grey bar at the top of Nathan's blog. Look again.

I am new to this blog, (just a few weeks now) and have been doing lots of searching.

Briane P said...

Would your fantasy world include multimillion dollar advances to all authors, since you would know what readers want? Because if so, I'm moving there.

Loren Eaton said...

I wish that quality short fiction would start appearing everywhere, including in the Wall Street Journal, Reader's Digest, Forbes and (while I'm at it) every restaurant menu that I open.

Crimogenic said...

A day off to reread a favorite book would be sweet.

AC said...

"...there would be a law requiring everyone, once a year, to take a day off to re-read a beloved book."

That would be hands-down the best holiday ever.

Scott said...

I like to read long sentences that bounce with whip-smart sass and sizzle. I vote you my favorite babysitter, Katherine!*




*Ginger was mean and wouldn't let us talk, and Jeff is so four days ago.

Dana said...

Sigh... I want to live in the utopia too. :) Especially the reading burns calories part. That would be lovely.
I think a certain blogger took Heidi and Spencer's memoir with him on his vacay. ;)

lotusloq said...

I want to live in your Utopia! Especially if you will be there! You are hilarious and fun! Nathan would have to be there too. Thanks for stopping by! Your digression was so much more fun than your original idea.

Pamala Knight said...

Getting in line behind Anon 814am here, Katherine deserves her own blog so that we can start a campaign to bring her utopia to fruition.

Great post. Thanks for babysitting while Nathan's away.

Other Lisa said...

Sign me up, for the blog and the utopia!

Jeanne said...

Love this post.

If new episodes of The Office were on nightly, we would watch or record them, without fail.

I like the idea about the scan at the big chain stores, but in my Utopia, charming, individually owned bookstores would be back in vogue. Steve's Sundries in Tulsa is a great one- with an old fashioned soda fountain. But, hardly anyone goes there anymore.

Growing up in Amarillo, we had plenty of saucy waitresses willing to tell us to "kiss their ... whatevers..." but political correctness has put an end to this kind of banter. But, sometimes they'll call you "Sugar" or "Honey" if they are in a good mood.

And PLEASE let someone find a way to make reading into a fat burning excersise!!

Lastly- the agents reading list should depend upon what kind of vacation an he is on. If he is on the kind of vacation josephine suggests- I hope he isn't reading at all.

Anonymous said...

Ohh. I want this utopia...

"...Chain bookstores would invent a device that could scan customers’ souls to determine which books they would find most meaningful (including, but not limited to, all the wonderful midlist, backlist, barely-made-it-onto-any list titles which don’t necessarily appear on front-of-store display titles.)..."


Every time I find joy in a midlist author I hate, hate hate it that their wonderful book gets zero publicity while some famous author gets display tables.

CathM said...

I've just stumbled on this blog... WOW!!! Lots of nuggets of wisdom! Katherine, loved your entry. Your comment: "Women’s magazines would publish short fiction" resonates massively... if only (lol)!

Gay said...

Can I live in your Utopia?

jnantz said...

[mocking the current overly litigious society]"Hey, that was my Utopia first! I want a million!"[/mocking the current overly litigious society]

What a great holiday that would be to reread my first Stephen King again, or the first Michael Crichton (sigh). And lotuslog was right...this was much more fun than an e-book discussion. So when's your blog going to be online again??? :D

Elyssa Papa said...

I love your utopia, too!

And I'm seconding or thirding or whatever the number is a request for you to start your own blog! This was such a fun blog to read today!

PAMELA ROSS said...

Hi Katherine. SO nice to see you here, Pinch Blogging for Bransford.
Homerun first time up at bat? Maybe the reason writers are having a hard time getting read is because the agents are better writers than we are.

Fondly,
Pamela Ross
(We met a few summers ago at the Backspace conference and you made a great first impression, even then.)

N W Wemmick said...

I bet he would be reading menu's and that would be all.

Nancy D'Inzillo said...

Would going to a freelance book editor potentially count as "some kind of critical feedback from a trusted source"? I imagine it would depend on the editor.

In a world where someone can have their body scanned for the perfect pair of jeans, we really should have a soul scanner already.

Linda Lou said...

I agree that new writers should join writers' groups to get critical feedback on their work. In addition, such groups can provide a sense of accountability; if I sign up to read at Monday's meeting, then dammit, I'll come up with something! It's easy to procrastinate on your creative work when you don't have a deadline. A writers' group can provide the structure to keep you moving!

abc said...

I'm buying books for Christmas this year!
And I'm on board with women's mags publishing short fiction. Remember when Sassy did that? Oh the good ole days of Sassy (1st Sassy not bad 2nd Sassy without editor Jane Pratt--let's forget that ever happened).

Devoted said...

Great post! I was smiling all the way through.

Adaora A. said...

I love your world! Might I ask that it be the British Office too? Because if you refer to the Steve Carell (sp?) version, then you haven't lived until you've watched the Ricky Gervais, Steve Merchant (two men wrote the series) and Maggie Smith. Trust me.

I bet he takes Atonement, On Chesil Beach, Moby Dick, and Drunk Monkey's Annoynmous with him on his holiday. But if it's Whisler then he takes a book on how to make his own muffler. HA!

Fox Falcon aka Bob Day said...

Please, for the love of humanity, no more laws! Mmmmm, Mel's Diner.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I would like to live in this fantasy world of yours, if only for the soul-scanning device, The Office, and the giving and receiving of books.

Anonymous said...

In my literary utopia...

All stay at home moms who wish to write a novel would have direct access to a government funded part time nanny.

All toddlers would respect spiral notebooks and refain from tearing out pages of mom's favorite, hand-written battle scene.

All little toddlers would take their hour-long nap each day so mom can transcribe handwritten scenes into the laptop.

Speaking of laptops, no toddler would ever try to kill a laptop again.

Lastly, and most importantly...

Any mom who can write a novel with a toddler jumping up and down on her back would immediately get published, make enough money for that part time nanny, and ride of into the blissful sunset to the land of toddler toys.

Bernadette Ann Marciniak said...

Katherine --

This post was fabulous! I, too, wish that a new episode of The Office was on every night. Alas, it is what makes Thursdays Thursdays. Perhaps I can use the other days of the week to finally reread a favorite book as the last one I remember rereading was one of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary.

I agree with the commenters above - you should start your own blog.

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