Survey Blog Blog



1. Late July, 2014...

1. UNBROKEN, by Laura Hillenbrand; AGENT: Tina Bennett sold this in 2004when she was at Janklow Nesbit. She's now a full partner in the literary department at Wm Morris Endeavor. And this work of narrative non-fiction - long Bennett's specialty - has a renewed bestseller life because of its e-book publication. (And oh, yes, a movie...)

2. BLOOD FEUD, by Edward Klein; AGENT: Ryan Harbage at Fischer-Harbage. Klein's agent was Dan Strone at Trident until sometime after 2009.

3. THE MOCKINGBIRD NEXT DOOR, by Marja Mills; AGENT: Miriam Altshuler. Lawyer's leters from Harper Lee crying foul did not, in this case, cause the publisher or author to withdraw. They obviously believe in their side of the story. And Altshuler has had a long career in which she's always been known as a straight shooter.

4. HARD CHOICES, by Hillary Rodham Clinton; AGENT: Robert Barnett an attorney at Williams & Connolly in DC has sold all the Clintons'literary output. Barnett takes a one-time very hefty price for the negotiation, but not an agent's 15%+ piece of all the ongoing action. And see Daniel Silva in the fiction list to prove that for the right writers, Barnett does as well with fiction as non-fiction.

5. FLASH BOYS, by Michael Lewis; AGENT: Al Zuckerman. Founder of Writers House and technically retired. Not necessarily so you'd notice.

6.NO PLACE TO HIDE, by Glenn Greenwald ; AGENT: Dan Conaway at Writers House.

7. THE ROMANOV SISTERS, by Helen Rappaport; AGENT: Charlie Viney in London. This one originally sold in 2012. Rappaport now seems to have moved with her latest to Caroline Michel at PFD in London. US sales by the UK agents in both cases.

8. OUTLIERS, by Malcolm Gladwell; AGENT: Tina Bennett at Wm Morris Endeavor. And see the first entry above. This one originally published in 2008 is bumped up by Gladwell's latest release, and of course the e-book.

9. ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, by Piper Kerman; AGENT: Stuart Krichevsky. Much more in keeping with the Krichevsky list then his novelist client's entry in the fiction list below.

10. SPECIAL HEART, by Bret Baier with Jim Mills; AGENT: Claudia Cross at Folio Literary Management and Larry Kramer of Kramer Talent Management (Baier is a Fox News anchor, so the involvement of a talent agent isn't a surprise.)


1. THE BOOK OF LIFE, by Deborah Harkness; AGENT: Sam Stoloff at Frances Goldin Literary Agency. When non-fiction expert Stoloff sold the first of this Yale professor's witch/vampire trilogy it catapulted him into fiction and he's done a LOT more since. Been doing graphic novels of late as well.

2. THE GOLDFINCH, by Donna Tartt; AGENT: Amanda Urban at ICM. Now in its 39th week on the NYTimes combined E and Print list, but surprisingly didn't make the Booker longlist in this first year when US authors are being considered.

3.THE HEIST, by Daniel Silva; AGENT: Robert Barnett an attorney at Williams & Connolly in DC. Barnett sells a lot of books despite not being an agent. Takes a one-time very hefty price for the negotiation, but not an agent's 15%+ piece of all the ongoing action. If you're a boldface name - writer or otherwise - this often makes a lot of sense.

4. ACT OF WAR, by Brad Thor; AGENT: Heide Lange at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Lange's been an agent for many years, but taking on Dan Brown's DaVinci Code (whose previous books had gone nowhere)catapulted her into the role of Agent-who-sells-bestsellers, not to mention what it did for Brown...

5. ORPHAN TRAIN, by Christina Baker Kline; AGENT: Beth Vesel when the book was originally sold to Morrow in 2009. Kline is now represented by Geri Thoma at Writers House. Another case of a pairing that opened a whole new world. Big breakthrough novel for Kline.

6. WAYFARING STRANGER, by James Lee Burke; AGENT: Lukas Ortiz at Philp G. Spitzer. This one's right in character for both. Burke does classy, well-written mystery and that's frequently what Ortiz takes on and sells. In keeping for the agency profile as well. Michael Connelly was a Spitzer client when Ortiz began as an assistant at the agency in 2000.

7. THE SILKWORM, by Robert Galbraith; AGENT: Don't be ridiculous. Galbraith is J.K. Rowling, n'uff said.

8. ADDICTED, by Tracy Wolff; AGENT: Emily Sylvan Kim at Prospect Literary Agency. E-books put this agent and her client on the NYTimes list. Nice for both - and obviously appreciated by many readers.

9. TOP SECRET TWENTY-ONE, by Janet Evanovich; AGENT Evanovich was a client of Robert Gottlieb first at then Wm Morris (now Wm Morris Endeavor), and then Trident for decades and countless bestsellers. These days her son Peter Evanovich is her agent and mom is his only client.

10. POWER PLAY, by Catherine Coulter; AGENT: Robert Gottlieb at Trident. And just to make it interesting, Mark Gottlieb sells the audio rights and was new at Trident in 2013.

MORAL OF THE STORY? There's a fair amount of shape-shifting in the agent and agency world, but things shake out. And underlying sensibilities pretty much remain intact over a career. Agents respond to what they like to read, and that's what most writers also write - what they like to read - most of the time.

Click on Bestseller Archive to step back in time.