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Manager, Dr. James Schiavone Believes that "Hard Times Require Hard Work"

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Manager James Schiavone founded a family-owned management corporation that he is confident in for the foreseeable future. He explains in this interview why ebooks make life easier for every part of the publishing industry, what kinds of books editors are always looking for, and how to send the best possible mailed query letter.

What is your job title? And why would you consider yourself the best manager there is?
I founded my corporation and designated myself as CEO, my daughter, Jennifer DuVall as President, and my grand nephew, Kevin McAdams as Executive Vice President. We are all agents with our corporate offices in Florida and branch offices in New York City. We are positioned to function well into the 21st Century. We are a family owned corporation and we work together as a management team to represent the best authors we can find. We work with the best editors and publishers in the industry, making us the best in the business.

What kinds of books do well with editors these days? And what are you on the look out for, what kinds of books would you like to see more of?
Editors are always on the lookout for timely, well written books of commercial or literary merit, as well as current affairs and issues, and narrative nonfiction. I'm especially interested in celebrity biography and memoirs with emphasis on celebrity. I would like to hear from authors with powerful platforms and professionally prepared proposals on most subjects of current interest. I've been getting too many vampire and werewolf stories and would like to see more fast paced action, adventure, and psychological suspense novels.

How should a writer reach you and your agency? Any pet peeves about poorly-handled queries?
The best way to my agency is via the query letter. I welcome a thoughtful carefully written query letter. Authors can get a lot of help in writing the query letter by checking out the many publications that offer suggestions on writing them. Recommendations from others who have been successful, as well as my own clients, are sure to get my full attention. I'm always open to authors at the conferences I attend. Making a cold call to my office is a waste of time, as I can only advise the caller to send a query. Finally, I'm always open to established authors. Email queries are best for me - no attachments. Of course I welcome letters by post.

Pet peeves? I like to get a one page letter in a #10 envelope with SASE. That's all. I'm not interested in oversized envelopes and unsolicited manuscripts and proposals

How is your agency surviving in this economic climate? What do your writers need to do to protect their careers?
Like everyone else I roll with the punches. These are indeed tough times in which too many dedicated editors received pink slips as publishers downsized and reorganized to trim their budgets. Some editors served as many as 15 to 20 years on the job. My reaction is to follow up on every viable query that comes into my office to ensure the future of my company, and the excellence of my carefully selected submissions. Hard times require hard work and authors need to keep at their craft of writing. Giving up creates problems, not solutions.

What is digital publishing going to do to publishing in general?
In the final analysis a book is a book. How that book is delivered and the preferences of consumers who buy them, dictates the direction of the industry. Technology marches on. Look at the film and music industries. Initially you had to go to a theater to watch a movie, then came television, then Beta and VHS, then DVD and Blu-Ray. The presentation of films now gets to us in a variety of ways. This leaves the consumer with multiple choices. Ditto for music. From the recorded cylinder to flat vinyl records to tapes and CD's, to iPods, etc., music is delivered in a variety of media. With all of this technology we can still enjoy going to a theater or a concert. Technology brings us virtually unlimited entertainment.

As a kid (many current readers weren't around then) I saw books change in shape and size. One could go to the five and dime store to buy a new book format then called "pocket books." And yes, they did fit into your pocket. Here was a previously published hard cover book now in a smaller paperback pocket version for just 25 cents! Today this format is known as the eponymous "mass market paperback," and retails at $7.99. Thanks to digital technology, we now have choices in how we read content. No longer must a book be confined to ink and paper. Thanks to my SONY personal ebook reader, I can download dozens of books and take them with me on board public conveyances, the beach, etc. And as a literary agent I have eliminated tons of paper coming into my office, piling up, and getting messed up and misplaced. For the past couple of years I now only accept electronic file email attachments - and publishers accept agency submissions via email. With the new ebook readers, one doesn't have to read from a computer screen. The reader fits comfortably in your hands like a traditional book. The growing demand for ebooks has enormous implications for the publishing industry. Just think: no ink, no paper, no warehousing, no shipping, no shelf space, and no returns! What a boon to publishers, authors, agents, and the book buying public. Technology continues to brighten our future. Indeed, the marketplace for publishing has changed and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

Before we go, could you tell us a personal fact?
I have harbored a life-long love of cars.