Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Why Nonfiction?

If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know that I've been publishing numerous entries on what we're looking for now that the firm is once again open to new queries. I've started out with nonfiction subject areas because, simply put, I want to represent more nonfiction. Nonfiction, generally speaking, is simply easier to sell, especially if the author has the right credentials and/or an existing platform. Why is it easier? Well, there's less good nonfiction out there and thus less competition for editors' reading time. It can be sold on proposal, which means it takes less time to read initially and so decisions come more quickly. If an author has the right credentials and/or platform, it's often a no-brainer. A serious scientist writing about a serious subject, e.g., global warming, and saying something new or controversial, will nearly always sell. At least one agent I know of makes his living just selling these types of books. And I'd like to put a dent in his business.

But there are other great nonfiction areas beyond science and I've outlined the ones that genuinely intrigue me in the various blog entries that have preceeded this one. And if you go to the What We Want page on my website, you can read them all in a slightly condensed version.

There are, of course, some commonalities when it comes to nonfiction and I have hammered on these in each and every entry. And I'll keep hammering on them. Think of me as the admissions director at an Ivy League university. I want the cream of the crop. Are there diamonds in the rough that might interest me? Sure. Are there authors whom I could work with if we got them a ghost writer? Of course. But, generally speaking, if you want to write nonfiction and be represented by The Zack Company, please be in the top ten percent of your field, preferably previously published (at least in magazines), and preferably with a platform that will lead publishers to feel that your platform will lead readers to the book, as opposed to the book being the base for your platform.

I apologize if this seems arrogant, my saying I want "the cream of the crop," but the reality is that getting published is a highly competitive process. Just as a producer wants to put stars in his films, I want to put stars on my list. Am I willing to introduce a "fresh, young face" to the world? Sure, but like any starlet just getting into the business, there should be real talent there and not just another pretty face (though having a pretty face never hurts).

In the next few days, I'm going to start outlining what I'm looking for in fiction (yes, I'm still repping fiction). I think you'll find some of it surprising. Be sure to tune back in here regularly to learn more.


1 comment:

Anthony S. Policastro said...

Hi Andrew,
This last post inspired me to highlight you on The Writer's Edge. Take a look at

Thanks for being so detailed in your requirements.

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