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Agent Spotlight: Bill Contardi

This week's Agent Spotlight features Bill Contardi of Brandt and Hochman Literary Agents, Inc. 

Bill-Contardi 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)

(QueryTracker has him listed with even more genres here.)

From AgentQuery:

"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.

Quotables:

"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)

Editorial Agent?

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.

Web Presence:

No website.

AAR member.

AgentQuery, QueryTracker, & AuthorAdvance.

Clients:

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.

Sales:

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.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (preferred).

Snail-Mail: Yes.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

E-mail:  Query only.

Snail-mail:  Query and SASE.

Query tips: 

"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)

Response Times:

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:

Interviews:

Agent Perspectives: Bill Contardi at Class of 2k10 (06/2010).

Interview with Bill Contardi by client Cindy Pon (10/2008).

Podcast interview with Bill Contardi and Lolly Winston (11/2006).

Ask An Agent: Reader Q&A with William Contardi (2002).

Around the Web:

Brandt & Hochman Literary on P&E.

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.

Contact:

Please see Mr. Contardi's AAR page or one of the query databases above for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

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.

19 comments:

  1. I queried him at the beginning of the summer season, and haven't heard. Maybe I'll try again at the three month mark. Is that a respectable amount of time? :)

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  2. I think three months is perfectly respectable, Elana, especially given his normal speed. Good luck!

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  3. I think you found my dream agent. Did you say MOVIES?? LOL.

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  4. Slim chance at film rights, Aimee, even with an agent involved in them. Though, I imagine chances are slightly better, given connections.

    : )

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  5. I know, but a girl can DREAM. (This girl does all the time)

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  6. Thanks for another great profile, Casey!

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  7. Another great write up. You answered a lot of questions I had about him. I also like it when you find pictures of these agents. It's nice to see a face to a name.

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  8. Thanks for the heads up; I sent him a query letter.

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  9. You know what's always so disappointing....comments like "slim chance at film rights" Really? Have you read her manuscript? Did the film industry completely stop making movies based on books? How about trying "Who knows?" or something positive. We face enough discouragement as writers don't we?

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  10. @Anonymous , April 27th: Casey was just being realistic. More writers need to try that. Everybody (especially female writers) think they're going to scribble maybe a vampire romance, for example, and suddenly become the next Stephenie Meyer, making millions of bucks. No. Truth is Aimee will be lucky to get an agent. It's okay to dream but to turn the dream into a reality the first thing you need to do is wake up. I think Bill Cosby said that. Yes, the writing biz is full of discouragement, so here's some more: if you don't like the writing biz then quit; no one is making you stay.

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    Replies
    1. I'm sure Ms. Myers, James, and Rowling were told the same thing.

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  11. I am so excited to have just signed with Bill this week. I found him to be lightning fast in his communication (from query to call was about a month and he was on vacation in the middle of it.) He is smart, savvy, funny, and most of all, has fantastic enthusiasm and vision. I couldn't be more excited to work with him.

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  12. He doesn't do picture books, by the way.

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  13. I queried him at 9:30 last night and received a response by 10:15. It was a rejection, but still, that’s service!

    While I’m at it, I’ve been meaning to thank you, Casey, for all the work you do. I’ve been using your site for a month, and I’ve got a couple nibbles from agents I’ve found here. So thank you!

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    1. You're welcome, Joshua! Glad to hear you're finding Agent Spotlight useful. Good luck with the agents you're out with. Let me know if you get good news. : )

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  14. Hi Casey,
    Thank you so much for this spotlight. I'm about ten (very long) days into the agent hunt and already feeling burned out. Bill's agency has no website, which always makes me a little weary, and your webpage, so fabulously laid out, was such an amazing end of week treat for my (very very shattered) nerves.
    Thank you for your hard work.
    Phiroozeh

    phiroozeh.blogspot.com

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    1. You're very welcome, Phiroozeh. Good luck with Bill. I hope your agent hunt isn't a long one. Do let me know when you find an agent!

      Casey

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  15. First, just FYI they appear to have a website now: http://brandthochman.com/

    Second, I've been using your site as one of the top resources for my agent search; it's FABULOUS. Thanks for putting in all this hard work for the benefit of fellow writers. <3

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