Agent Savant

The musings of literary agent Laurie McLean

Hello, I’m now at Foreword Literary!

Written By: laurie - Mar• 09•13

I have taken a big step forward into the unknown. With partners Pam van Hylckama Vlieg and Gordon Warnock I have formed a brand new type of literary agency. One that blends the best of traditional publishing with the opportunities and technologies of digital publishing. Please, say hello to our new company: Foreword Literary, Inc.

Foreword Literary


Before I became a literary agent in 2005, I had previously spent 25 years in high tech marketing working with clients such as Apple Computer, Adobe Systems, Intuit, Hotmail and hundreds of other companies. It was a heady time in our culture with technological advances occurring at the speed of light. It also proved to me that technology can transform an industry, big or small, creating chaos, opportunity and excitement in its wake.

This was an important consideration for the formation of Foreword Literary, Inc.

I thought I’d left the crazy pace of the tech realm behind me for a more sedentary life in the slow-moving world of publishing. In fact, the agonizing pace of 18-24 months from contract to bookshelf was the most difficult part of the job for me. Then Smashwords, and Amazon’s Kindle eReader and KDP self-publishing service, debuted in 2008, and my dormant virtual tech-antennae sprang out of my head. I knew that publishing would never be the same again.

I spent thousands of hours over the years studying these new technologies. I could not prepare a conference presentation on this subject more than a day in advance because change was happening at such a rapid pace. It was (and still is) exciting. My passion was engaged. I started incorporating eBooks and self-publishing and new technologies into all my clients’ writing career plans.

And in the back of my mind I kept envisioning how a literary agency could emerge from this chaotic transition to embrace this change and use it to a writer’s best advantage.

It was very difficult to leave behind an agency with the longevity (40 years) and heart of Larsen Pomada Literary Agents. But I needed to blaze a previously undiscovered path if I was to build something entirely new.

I also knew that I needed amazing partners to make this company work. Pam van Hylckama Vlieg started off as my assistant and within 3 months it was crystal clear to me that she was destined to become a super literary agent. She became an agent after 3 months of rigorous training and in her first year sold 21 books. This is astounding success. And her love of technology and social media marketing rivals my own…perhaps even surpasses it! So Pam was the first person I approached once I’d made the decision to leave Larsen Pomada. Thankfully she saw the potential of my vision, and amped it up several megawatts with her own creative ideas. Pam is pure awesome. On steroids!

Gordon Warnock and I have known each other for 5 years. I am always encouraged by his thoughtful consideration, wonderful eye for nonfiction, droll sense of humor and the solid name he’s created for himself in the publishing industry in such a short time. Plus he is a culinary explorer par excellence. And that is an understatement. When I heard that Gordon might be looking to start the next chapter of his professional life, the timing was perfect, and we had to have him on board.

Together we are a triumvirate ready to take on the world. I can’t even imagine what we can accomplish together with our intelligence, experience and energy.

So what is Foreword Literary? We are a brand new type of author representative. Sure, we’ll sell books to publishers and sell subsidiary rights to movie studios, foreign publishers, magazines, audiobook companies, etc. But we’ll also work with a network of affiliates such as self-publishers, cover designers, app creators, web series developers, comic book producers, social media marketers, publicity experts, teachers, game designers, speaker bureaus, and many, many others to offer our clients a fully-fleshed world of possibilities for their creativity.

We would be lying if we said we know everything. We’re learning new technology, new procedures, new ways of doing business every single day. And that’s what keeps this fresh and exciting for us. Foreword Literary, as the name implies, is an endorsement of our talented clients and the direction in which our industry is moving. We applaud the pioneers who are revolutionizing publishing. Gutenberg would be proud. So would Steve Jobs. is moving publishing Forward. Watch. This. Space.

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