This week's Agent Spotlight features Laurie McLean of Foreword Literary.
Status: Open to submissions.
“Following her stint as the CEO of a successful Silicon Valley public relations agency bearing her name, Laurie was able to switch gears in 2002 to immerse herself in writing. She penned three manuscripts before deciding that the life of a literary agent was her destiny. Laurie has been writing professionally since high school–first as a journalist, then as a public relations agent, finally as a novelist. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the State University of New York and a Master’s Degree at Syracuse University’s prestigious Newhouse School of Journalism.
“At Foreword, Laurie specializes in adult genre fiction (romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, thrillers, suspense, horror, etc.) plus middle-grade and young adult children’s books. She does not handle non-fiction, or commercial, literary or women’s fiction, nor does she handle children’s picture books or graphic novels.
“Prior to founding Foreword, Laurie was also the Dean of San Francisco Writers University and on the management team of the San Francisco Writers Conference. In 2012 Laurie co-founded two ePublishing companies with two of her client partners: JoyrideBooks.com for vintage out-of-print romance books with Linda Wisdom; and AmbushBooks.com for out-of-print classic tween and teen books with Douglas Rees.” (Link)
About the Agency:
“Foreword Literary is a full-service, hybrid literary agency based in the Silicon Valley with offices throughout the country. We blend the tried-and-true methods of traditional publishing with the brash new opportunities engendered by digital publishing, emerging technologies, and an evolving author-agent relationship.
“Foreword manages a wide variety of clients, from bestsellers to debut authors, working with fiction and non-fiction for children and adults worldwide. We combine technical efficiency with outside-the-covers creative thinking so that each individual client’s career is specifically fine-tuned for them.
“We are not an agency that sells a book and then washes our hands of the project. We realize that our ongoing success directly results from that of our clients, so we remain at their side to cultivate and strategize throughout the many lives of each book, both before and after the initial sale. Innovations, such as our FastForeword publishing program, help bridge the gaps between books, growing and maintaining the author’s fan base without lag.
“Laurie, Pam, and Gordon launched Foreword following tenures at established agencies, bringing with them experience in writing, teaching, professional editing, book marketing, blogging and social media, running high-tech companies, and marketing new technologies. A boutique, collaborative agency, Foreword provides each client with the expertise and forward vision of the group.
“We pride ourselves on our flexibility and passion for progression in an ever-changing publishing environment. We believe that the agency of the future will not just react to change but will actively create change, pushing markets and advancing formats to provide authors with the best possible outlets for their art.
“Foreword Literary, Inc. Moving Publishing Forward.” (Link)
What She's Looking For:
Genres / Specialties:
“Laurie specializes in adult genre fiction (romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, thrillers, suspense, horror, etc.) plus middle-grade and young adult children’s books.” (Link)
From an Interview (02/2012):
“…as long as the writing is stellar and the storytelling superb, pretty much anything goes. I’d like to see gritty contemporary drama, school dramas, romantic comedy, fantasy of all stripes, science fiction, literary YA, mysteries, thrillers with teen protagonists, anything dark and compelling that I can’t put down.” (Link)
From an Interview (08/2010):
“If you want to drill down to get granular, I am especially eager to find excellent steampunk, new weird fantasy, cyberpunk, space opera science fiction, dark fantasy, urban fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction, non-traditional westerns that are more like the television show The Wild Wild West than Zane Grey, and anything with zombies in it. I am also looking for romance manuscripts in the following subgenres: Regency historicals, Scottish historicals, medieval historicals, paranormal (especially vampires and shape-shifters with a new twist), futuristic and military (especially yummy special-ops heroes), romantic suspense and contemporary if it’s not chick lit. And for the YA and middle-grade markets I am searching high and low for YA romance, anything post-apocalyptic or vampiric, dark fantasy (no sweet fairy tales), dark reality (dealing with contemporary issues) and anything interesting. YA is super hot right now and I love the teen voice!” (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
“She does not handle non-fiction, or commercial, literary or women’s fiction, nor does she handle children’s picture books or graphic novels.” (Link)
“She is also not too keen on WWII stories.” (Link)
“I DO NOT represent authors of picture books, board books, easy readers, chapter books, memoir, non-fiction, commercial, literary or women’s fiction. I also do not handle novels about serial killers, cozy mysteries unless the protagonist is unique and truly compelling, Louis L’Amour rehashed westerns, true crime dramas, biblical or religious-themed books, role-playing fan fiction, superhero fantasy, erotica, erotic romance, inspirational romance or books with talking animal protagonists. (Pshew!)” (Link)
“I have been an editor most of my professional career, so I believe I can always help an author make a book even better.” (Link)
“I consider myself the business side of the creative-business partnership with an author. I mentor, guide, critique, negotiate, advise, help develop an author’s career, brainstorm marketing ideas, etc. I want a partner who is as strong and committed to developing their talents as I am. I want a book a year, minimum, for 5 years at least, from my clients. I want a civilized, respectful relationship. I want my clients to learn about and understand the publishing process. And finally, I want clients who embrace and actively use social media tools and techniques for promoting their author brand. The days of being a writer and that’s it are over. You need to market your work or you will not rise about the noise level.” (Link)
A list of current clients is available at Ms. McLean’s blog.
Children’s/YA clients include: Marni Bates, H. Scott Beazley, Shea Berkley, Eldritch Black, Karice Bolton, Rhonda Helms, Julie Kagawa, Alex Kahler, Bobby McDowell, Douglas Rees, Tori Scott, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, and Cecily White.
E-mail: Yes (only).
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
“My assistant and I will consider queries in all types of science fiction,
fantasy, horror, romance, mystery, thrillers, children’s middle grade, and
young adult fiction if you email query us with the equivalent of the first
10 double-spaced pages (no prologues) and a very brief synopsis (1-2 pages)
in the body of your email at firstname.lastname@example.org. No
attachments, please. (Link)
Writers who follow Ms. McLean’s submission guidelines will receive a response within 4-6 weeks (info via e-mail).
What's the Buzz?
Anyone who reads even a fraction of the interviews and posts listed below can see that Ms. McLean is an extremely knowledgeable, passionate, and proactive literary agent. Her clients seem happy with her representation and she is actively making deals with a variety of large, midsize, and e-publishers. She has proven mindful of conflicts of interest in the structuring of her two epub companies and is keeping a careful eye on the evolving publishing landscape.
Worth Your Time:
First Five Frenzy with Laurie McLean of Larsen Pomada Literary Agents at Chasing the Crazies (02/2013).
Laurie McLean: Literary Agents in the New Publishing Era at The Fictorian Era (06/2012).
Agent Laurie McLean Answers Key Questions About Authors and Agents at The Indie Book Writers Blog (04/2012).
Agent Laurie McLean Answers MORE Key Questions About Authors and Agents at The Indie Book Writers Blog (04/2012).
Interview with Laurie McLean at Winningedits (2012).
Interview with Literary Agent Laurie McLean at Stacey O’Neil’s site (02/2012).
The AUTHORNOMICS Interview Series with Laurie McLean at the Andrea Hurst & Associates blog (06/2011).
INTERVIEW WITH LAURIE McLEAN at Victoria Scott’s blog (03/2011).
Q&A with Agent Laurie McLean at Scribe (03/2011).
The Indie Publishing Option, an interview with Laurie McLean at Ask the Agent (03/2011).
Interview with Laurie McLean, Literary Agent at Wanna Be Lit Agent (03/2011).
Interview with Literary Agent Laurie McLean at Kay Em Evan’s blog (08/2010).
Laurie McLean on Genre Fiction at Ask the Agent (02/2010).
The 7 Question Interview with Laurie McLean at Writing Raw.
Read the archives and subscribe to Ms. McLean’s blog, Agent Savant.
Agent Secrets–Do Writers Need an Agent in the New Publishing Paradigm? at Kristen Lamb’s blog (01/2013).
Laurie McLean’s Crystal Ball, guest post at Anne R. Allen’s blog (11/2012).
Guest Post By My Agent, The Magnificent Laurie McLean at Kait Nolan’s blog (03/2011).
Agents in the Age of Digital Publishing by Laurie McLean at novelists, inc. (08/2010).
Podcast / Video:
Friday Interview with Laurie McLean via YARebels (04/2012).
Isle of the Arts – Broadcast of Laurie McLean on epublishing (02/2012).
Laurie McLean - Young Adult Fiction: Breaking Down the Market via Author Learning Center (11/2011).
Laurie McLean - Agent Communication via Author Learning Center (09/2011).
Literary Agent Laurie McLean Tells All! (08/2010).
Poscast Interview with Agent Laurie McLean at Tale Chasing (12/2009).
Around the Web:
See the “Conferences” page on the Foreword Literary website for upcoming conferences and events.
Subscription to the Foreword Literary Newsletter can be found here.
What Agents Hate, article with quotes at Writer’s Digest (09/2008).
Agent Appreciation Day post by client Julie Kagawa at her blog (12/2009).
Last updated: 5/23/13.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 1/24/13.
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 and/or teen 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.