This week's Agent Spotlight features Bill Contardi of Brandt and Hochman Literary Agents, Inc.
About: "For ten years Bill Contardi worked as an editor for NAL, Berkely, Popular Library, and Avon Books. He was director of literary affairs at United Artists and then vice-president, literary affairs at Warner Bros.—in their New York offices, charged with bringing in books for the studios to develop for feature film. For eleven years Bill was a dramatic rights agent for books to film and television at William Morris in New York. Since 2002 he has been a literary agent with Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents representing authors and selling their work to publishers. In addition to building a list of new writers at Brandt & Hochman, Bill also continues to represent the dramatic rights of literary properties for some Brandt & Hochman clients and for a few other agencies as well." (Link)
Status: Open to submissions.
What He's Looking For:
Fiction: Literary Fiction, True Crime, Commercial Fiction, Historical Fiction, Thrillers/Suspense, Military/Espionage, Children’s, Young Adult, Multi-Cultural.
Non-Fiction: History, Celebrity, Biography, Religion, Politics, Multi-Cultural, Memoirs, Spirituality, Current Affairs, Pop Culture, Narrative, Nature/Ecology, Film & Entertainment, True Crime. (Link)
"I am looking for a fresh, smart voice, in control of the story which has some resonance to today. A story that hits the ground running with drama and fully developed characters and takes me to a new place. Writers, including multi-cultural, with a point of view, something to say which will appeal to an audience that enjoys wit and intelligence." (Link)
From an Interview (10/2008):
"I am pretty open to anything that seems smart and different...and saleable helps." (Link)
What He's Not Looking For:
I found the following information listed with a conference bio from late 2008:
"He is open to all kinds of books, fiction and nonfiction (except for science fiction, fantasy, children's picture books, middlegrade fiction, and self-help)." (Link)
I believe this to mean he doesn’t want sci-fi or fantasy adult fiction as he reps several YA fantasy titles.
"We don't have a website because frankly we spend professional time being agents and occasionally editors rather than maintaining a website. We have great clients and loads of talented new writers through references and reputation. And as you know Google tells the story these days, for better and sometimes for worse." (Link)
“Everything runs in cycles. Right now there is depressed market in adult fiction for high fantasy. Whereas supernatural chick lit with werewolves and vamps etc. continues to thrive. The YA high fantasy genre is more alive. And there is always a market for epic fantasy, usually for the guys and abounding with issues of honor and courage and martial arts. But over time what is labeled ‘out of fashion’ wears off and is the new bright shiny thing.” (Link)
Yes, he requests revisions and editorial changes as needed. One client, Sugar Turner, acknowledged him for acting "more as an editor than an agent," and seemed very thankful. In his podcast interview from 2007, however, he mentioned that agents generally don't have time for line-by-line edits, so I wouldn't expect that level of editorial help. Always send your best, polished work.
Jessica Brody, Bryan Chick, Leah Cypess, Kathleen Benner Duble, Shane Gericke, Mary Jane Nealon, Alyson Noel, Brooke Parkhurst, Cindy Pon, Margaret Lowrie Robertson, Charlie Stella, Curt Wendelboe, Thomas Zigal, among others.
As of 3/2011, Mr. Contardi is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 3 deals in the last 12 months, 3 six-figure+ deals, and 31 overall. Recent deals include 1 memoir, 2 young adult.
NOTE: PM is rarely a complete representation of sales.
E-mail: Yes (preferred).
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
E-mail: Query only.
Snail-mail: Query and SASE.
"I prefer email queries which allow for instant consideration if I am before the screen, which is much of the day...and night." (Link)
"When I receive a query I look immediately to the author bio. Something that seems to show evidence of that individual as a writer whether it is academic credits or professional accomplishments. Having a blog these days can be a very effective platform for a new writer." (Link)
“Yes, I am always looking for writers. I prefer an email with a plot synopsis and an author bio. Some writing experience is always helpful -- that shows dedication to honing one's craft. I am looking for really good writing, with freshness and point view and relevance.” (Link)
Mr. Contardi generally responds within minutes to a few days, occasionally taking longer. His response time on requested material seems to fall within days to a couple weeks. Despite his quick turnaround, don’t be too hasty to followup if you don’t hear back right away. Agent response times fluctuate.
What's the Buzz?
Despite his quiet Internet presence, there is a lot of praise floating around the web about Mr. Contardi. Most have very complimentary things to say, and his clients particularly seem to love him. Given his years in the publishing business (around 30!), successful clientele, and experience in the film industry, he seems like quite the catch. According to AgentQuery, he sells many debut novels, which is always a plus.
Worth Your Time:
Agent Perspectives: Bill Contardi at Class of 2k10 (06/2010).
Interview with Bill Contardi by client Cindy Pon (10/2008).
Around the Web:
Brandt & Hochman Literary thread on AbsoluteWrite.
If you have a paid membership with AvantGuild, you may be able to find more information on Mr. Contardi with this article, Pitching an Agent: Brandt & Hochman. Note, however, its from 2004.
Please see Mr. Contardi's AAR page or one of the query databases above for contact and query information.
Last updated: 3/16/11
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes
Last Reviewed by Agent: N/A
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com
Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.