Robert Mackwood is the owner and principal agent of the BC-based Seventh Avenue Literary Agency — one of Canada’s leading non-fiction agencies. Catch him in person at the Book Publishing Boot Camp on March 6, where he’ll discuss what agents look for on a panel about the business of publishing.
I have been in book publishing for 35 years and as a literary agent for the past 20. I evolved from a broadcaster turned book publicist working for large and small publishers. Every day feels like a new challenge and adventure.
As an agent, my job is to find good projects and good authors that I think might be of interest to publishers. There are no short cuts or quick solutions in the process of writing, editing, defining, marketing, and selling books. It is hard work but the rewards are endless.
What kinds of books and authors do you represent?
We only represent nonfiction projects, which makes our agency unique. And within that genre there are many categories we work well in, including business, memoir, health, some self-help, food/cooking, travel and what I call “thinking” books. We generally represent authors who have some kind of platform to help sell and position a book.
What advice can you offer a new author seeking representation for their nonfiction book?
Have realistic goals from the outset. Don’t get caught up in the success of others nor people heaping praise on you. Understand and get used to rejection. It comes at you in many forms — from agents, from publishers and from the public. Navigating this publishing process requires a thick skin. I tell many clients that publishing is a marathon, not a sprint.