At 92 years young, Sterling Lord is a living legend among the publishing community for his work as a New York literary agent. LORD OF PUBLISHING provides an intimate look at his work with some bestselling authors like children's writers Stan and Jan Berenstain or novelist Dick Francis.
Early in the book, he details his decision to become a literary agent saying, "The agent has to know good writing and what is a good, interesting-to-the-publisher idea not only in order to judge what he can sell and what he can't, but also because often writers tried and untried will seek his advice. And he must know what to tell them. An agent is successful if he can attract and hold effective writers; these are two different talents. You have to know and understand the lives and problems of writer and devise how to help them with their lives." (Page 40-41)
I appreciated Lord's honesty and transparency when he writes in some of the final pages, "Although I'm immersed in literature and the art of the book, and enjoyed the personal and professional rewards that came with being an agent, I recognized that the literary agency, like other businesses, has to its peaks and its valleys. Perseverance helps. While I am better known by the bestsellers I helped launch, I did not always have an easy time convincing publishers of the value of the manuscripts I was selling." (Page 288)
There are many valuable insights and lessons for writers, editors and other literary agents in the book business. I enjoyed reading LORD OF PUBLISHING.
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About the reviewer
W. Terry Whalin (terrywhalin)
I am an Acquisitions Editor at Morgan James Publishing. I have written more than 60 books for traditional publishers and for more than 50 magazines. My blog on The Writing Life has more than 1,100 searchable … more
Sterling Lord (b. 1920) is the founder and cochairman of Sterling Lord Literistic and has been representing authors such as Jack Kerouac and Ken Kesey for more than half a century. Born in the Mississippi River town of Burlington, Iowa, Lord graduated from Grinnell College in 1942. After serving in the air force in WWII, Lord worked in New York City for a number of magazines, including Cosmopolitan, before opening his literary agency in 1952. In addition to Kerouac and Kesey, he has represented such authors as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Dick Francis, Howard Fast, and Stan and Jan Berenstain. Lord was nationally ranked in the Boys Tennis Division (age fifteen and under) and the Junior Tennis Division (eighteen and under). He has played competitive tennis for seventy-eight years and competed with or against Don Budge, Helen Wills Moody, Billy Talbert, Jean Borotra, and Marcel Bernard. Lord lives in New York City.