“A vintage red sign in Ropley” by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

My literary agency, a one-man shop, is currently open to submissions, meaning anyone can send me their work. And about 350 people do so every month. That’s neither bragging nor complaining. I have no idea how that lines up with other agents, it’s just part of my job. I’ve found wonderful clients this way, once quaintly called “over the transom,” which literally means someone tossed a manuscript through one of those little old-fashioned windows above a door. Apparently that window is where art and commerce meet.

When I entered the industry a century ago as an editorial assistant, there was…


5 Quick Tips to Prevent Being a Sloth in Pajamas

Shoes, yes. Couch, no. Photo by Dillon Shook on Unsplash

Whether you’re starting your own business or surviving a pandemic, working from home is a logical option. Just remember that despite occupying the same space, “work” and “home” still need to be separated. I came up with these five tips years ago and they have only gotten more annoying, which means they may help.

1. Shower and dress first

There’s something appealing about sliding out of bed, making a cup of coffee and opening the computer before you’re fully awake. If you gain momentum, it feels like you’ve done a day’s work before other people start — and sometimes that’s the case, so congratulations! Please…


How I went from mixtapes to CDs to Scrooge

Ripley the Christmas Samoyed endured a lot during her cover photo shoots

Not to brag but I invented the mixtape. It happened in my bedroom in February 1980, the day I conquered “drop the needle on the vinyl” vs. “unpause the tape deck” so deftly that no space could be detected from Elvis Costello & the Attractions’ “Mystery Dance” to Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass’s “Spanish Flea” to Martha & the Muffins’ “Echo Beach.” That was also the day I learned to draw a freehand ampersand in order to write out the track listing. …


Author photo copyright © 2010 by Augusten Burroughs

This is not an online quiz (“I’m a Mr. Darcy!”) or a rumination on life imitating art. My husband is the memoirist Augusten Burroughs, and I appear in some of his books. I am literally literary. If his publisher is running a promotion, several of my most intimate details can be had for as little as $1.99.

Augusten and I met when I became his agent in 1999. We had a writer-manager relationship for a decade, upgraded it to a romance, got married in 2013 and I’m still his agent. I’ve read the earliest drafts of all his work, published…


My first boyfriend died before the Google Age, so there’s not a lot about him online. Today would have been his 75th birthday, so I’m celebrating with a list of things the world should know about him.

  1. Harvey Steven Mayes was born in Brooklyn on June 7, 1944, raised in the Bronx, the eldest of two children (he had a sister, Sara).
  2. His formidable mother was named Bertha, and she had an equally daunting sister named Mildred, known publicly as Aunt Mil, privately as Aunt Dread.

“A room filled with huge stacks of books” by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

During the summer after I barely graduated from college, I moved to New York and interviewed with a few publishers. I loved books and I knew a little about the industry, plus a school acquaintance was an assistant at a literary agency and helped me land the first interview. Of course, she also said, “WHY?!? You can’t make any money doing that! It’s a lot of work and there’s no payoff!” She couldn’t have been clearer yet I did not heed her passionate advice. No one was going to stop me from being crushed under the heel of a soulless…

Christopher Schelling

Founder of Selectric Artists Literary & Talent Management www.selectricartists.com

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