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Lit Agent Helen Zimmerman Says Digital Tech Can Be "Pretty Darn Cool"

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Owner and Agency President Helen Zimmerman thinks that authors should look to digital technologies for publishing as hope for their books, not a threat. In this interview, she explains how her industry background helps her clients, and why proposals are tremendously helped by digital tech.

What title do you use? And why are you a great agent?
I am the owner and president of my agency. I think I serve my clients well because of my background; having spent many years at a large publishing house and then working at an independent bookstore gives me a very well-rounded view of the industry.

First of all, can you tell us something personal about yourself?
I am an EMT with my local fire department. So I drive large trucks and do CPR on a regular basis - always handy in the publishing world!

What are editors all looking for right now?
Honestly, I think editors are looking for the same thing they always have been: a smart, innovative, project that has a definite market.

How should a writer try to contact you? And do you have any "pet peeves" about author submissions?
Email is definitely best to contact me. Only pet peeve is when people send attachments before I ask for them. I won't even open an email with an attachment.

How are you coping with the economic downturn in the publishing industry? And what can writers do to weather this time?
I stopped buying ridiculously expensive coffee. Authors, for their part, can tune into the digital world for their projects. Figure out a way that the digital world can help promote their book. And submit proposals that are truly dazzling (in content and graphics).

What's your opinion on ebooks, new digital tech, and what they mean for the future of publishing?
I think we need to embrace them wholeheartedly! They make our industry and our products more exciting to consumers than ever before. If you can get the phone app that goes along with your book, well, that's pretty darn cool.