Monday, December 1, 2008

GumboWriters Interview with Literary Manager, Fredrica S. Friedman with Fredrica S. Friedman & Co., Inc.

How long have you been an agent, and how did you get started?

I opened my own literary management firm in 2002, after having worked with authors "on the other side of the table," as the Editorial Director and Associate Publisher at Little, Brown. I liked not only acquiring a writer's current book, and working with that author editorially to make it the best book, but also strategizing for her career and how the subjects of her next books could contribute to her larger aims. By the time I left that side of publishing, the continuing relationship with an author was represented best between author and agent, not any longer with her editor, because of the changing nature of the publishing process. Authors whom I brought to Little, Brown ranged from James Patterson and Victoria Glendinning for fiction to Alan Dershowitz, Henry Kissinger, and George Stephanopoulos for nonfiction.

At Fredrica S. Friedman & Co., Inc., we represent prizewinning and bestselling authors including David Smick, Patrick J. Buchanan, Barnett Rubin, Barton Biggs, Nina DiSesa, and other nationally recognized business, political, and issue-directed experts.

Recent bestsellers include:

THE WORLD IS CURVED: Hidden Dangers to the Global Economy by David Smick

THE GIRL FROM FOREIGN: A Search for Shipwrecked Ancestors, Forgotten Histories, and a Sense of Home by Sadia Shepard

LIFE WITH MY SISTER MADONNA by Christopher Ciccone with Wendy Leigh

DAY OF RECKONING: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed are Tearing America Apart and CHURCHILL, HITLER, AND THE UNNECESSARY WAR: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World by Patrick J. Buchanan

SEDUCING THE BOYS CLUB: Uncensored Tactics from a Woman at the Top by Nina DiSesa

My work in the book publishing business led to authors I know recommending me to their peers, the best way to find talented writers.

What makes your agency different than any others?

Our agency is different from others because I have had direct and highly placed, long experience with a prestigious publishing house before I opened my firm. As an expert editor who has seen literally thousands of proposals, I know what a first-rate proposal must encompass, and how to target the editors and their colleagues who make the decisions at the many imprints and publishers. Thus, I am able to be a hands-on help to my authors in preparing their work for market, and, from the day their manuscript is accepted for delivery, to begin enacting the 10-step process to successful publication (patent pending!). Our authors hold Pulitzer Prizes, Polk Awards, National Book Awards, Matrix Awards, and produce books that are national bestsellers and New York Times bestsellers. As The New York Times wrote in a profile, "Ms. Friedman takes nothing for granted and she leaves no page unturned in her approach to publishing."

What are you looking for specifically that you wish you would see more of?

More first-rate fiction that is commercial, with a distinctive voice, and a story that you wish would not end when you reach the last page; also, more narrative nonfiction that is important, urgent, and written by an expert with all the bonafides in the area.

How can a writer get your attention in a good way?

A new writer needs to know how to present his "pitch" letter so that it is interesting, intriguing, and well-written – suggestive of the book he is writing, along with his persuasive credentials. He also needs to know his competition in the marketplace and differentiate his book from others out there.

How can a signed writer stay in your radar without driving you insane?

We are in frequent communication with all the authors on our list, and I appreciate receiving their queries, points, and other matters whenever they need our help. It is important that a writer order his matters for discussion so they can be accomplished in one phone call, or email, and not send an email a day: that's too much communication for any writer and agent!

What do you wish more writers understood about you as an agent, Fredrica, that they don't seem to?

Most writers go to our website, and from that they can judge the book subjects we respond to, and the quality of work we represent.

What's the best way for a writer to reach you?

The best way for writers to approach us is to send a query letter to As our website notes, it will take us several weeks to respond, and we do not return any hardcopy materials. But we are always eager to have the opportunity to consider new and talented authors and their books for representation. We are a full-service firm, handling translation rights and rights for TV/film.