Literary Agents Scout Amazon for New Writers

Sloan Harris, ICM literary agent - peoplewhowrite

Sloan Harris

The Hollywood Reporter has posted an insightful roundtable discussion between six powerful literary agents that you should read. In the sit-down, Eric Simonoff (William Morris Endeavor), Sloan Harris (ICM), Kimberly Witherspoon (InkWell), Robert Gottleib (Trident, Christy Fletcher (Fletcher & Co), and Jodi Reamer (Writers House) talk everything from memorable query letters to celebrity authors to where they scout new talent. Regarding the latter, Harris noted that authors who can rise on the Amazon bestseller list — in other words, self-published authors — are quick to catch an agent’s eye.

“Our younger colleagues are reading blogs, are watching Amazon bestseller lists for books that may be unrepresented but are starting to pop,” Harris, who is 50, explains. He suggests self-publishing is how some new authors can hone their craft. “It’s encouraging to see the business learning how to create new places where writers can actually develop their voice and make money while they’re growing enough of a fan base to potentially jump over and join the commercial trade publishing side.”

Gottlieb added, “Amazon has created an opportunity for authors to be published who under normal circumstances would never be published because of the bottleneck of traditional publishing. We represent a book called The Abbey, a story of a Midwest homicide detective who’s a Muslim American. If I went out with that book to a traditional publisher, I would have a very hard time selling it. The book sold 1 million copies on Amazon, 350,000 copies on Barnes and Noble, and suddenly publishers start to notice.”