Thriller 101

Finding Your Perfect Literary Agent with Kimberly Brower of Brower Literary & Management

September 13, 2022 David Season 2 Episode 24
Finding Your Perfect Literary Agent with Kimberly Brower of Brower Literary & Management
Thriller 101
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Thriller 101
Finding Your Perfect Literary Agent with Kimberly Brower of Brower Literary & Management
Sep 13, 2022 Season 2 Episode 24

Send me a Text Message!

5 Minute Writer Newsletter (Grab Your 1st Edition Here)
Brower Literary & Management
Connect with Kimberly on Twitter!
Connect with David on Twitter


  1. How to edit your book
  2. Intangibles that will help you find an agent
  3. What agents are looking for in debut authors

In today's episode, Kimberly and I discuss finding the RIGHT literary agent for you. What agents are looking for in a writer. Plus, she shares some of the editing advice she gives her own clients.
Last time on the interview series I talked to book coach, Megan Clancy about how to edit your own work. Don't miss it! 

Kimberly fell in love with reading when she picked up her first Babysitter’s Club book at the age of seven (Super Special editions were her favorites) and hasn’t been able to get her nose out of a book since. She holds a BS in Business Administration from California State University, Northridge and received her JD from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. After spending a decade in the business world, it was kismet that she found herself in publishing. She previously worked for over two years at a boutique literary agency before starting her own. When not providing individual attention to her clients, Kimberly manages all of the day-to-day operations of the agency. This includes overseeing the management of the foreign, audio and all other subsidiary rights for all the authors in the agency. 

Tweet me @DavidRGwyn

Show Notes Transcript

Send me a Text Message!

5 Minute Writer Newsletter (Grab Your 1st Edition Here)
Brower Literary & Management
Connect with Kimberly on Twitter!
Connect with David on Twitter


  1. How to edit your book
  2. Intangibles that will help you find an agent
  3. What agents are looking for in debut authors

In today's episode, Kimberly and I discuss finding the RIGHT literary agent for you. What agents are looking for in a writer. Plus, she shares some of the editing advice she gives her own clients.
Last time on the interview series I talked to book coach, Megan Clancy about how to edit your own work. Don't miss it! 

Kimberly fell in love with reading when she picked up her first Babysitter’s Club book at the age of seven (Super Special editions were her favorites) and hasn’t been able to get her nose out of a book since. She holds a BS in Business Administration from California State University, Northridge and received her JD from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. After spending a decade in the business world, it was kismet that she found herself in publishing. She previously worked for over two years at a boutique literary agency before starting her own. When not providing individual attention to her clients, Kimberly manages all of the day-to-day operations of the agency. This includes overseeing the management of the foreign, audio and all other subsidiary rights for all the authors in the agency. 

Tweet me @DavidRGwyn


David Gwyn: [00:00:00] Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Writerly lifestyle podcast. Have you ever wanted a peak behind the scenes of a literary agency today? I'll be talking to Kimberly Brower, founder of Brower, literary and management. We're gonna talk about what to look for in a literary agent and what a literary agent will be looking for in you.

So if you're planning on querying at some point, don't miss this episode. So about five weeks ago, I made a snap decision to take some time away from the podcast to work on my last round of edits on my manuscript. I wanted to dive in completely and really just immerse myself in the work I needed to do.

I'm happy to report I'm officially a querying author. So I guess you could say that time paid. So if you're listening to this and you're querying to be sure to reach out on Twitter so we can support each other through this very long process. I'm David GN, a writer with a recently finished manuscript, wondering how to traditionally publish during this season of the podcast.

I'm asking agents, book, coaches, editors, and authors, how they suggest [00:01:00] writers go from the end on a first. To signing a publishing deal. Last time on the podcast, I talked to book, coach Megan Clancy in an insightful interview about how to edit your own work. The link for that episode is in the description.

Let me tell you a little bit about Kimberly Brower. She fell in love with reading when she picked up her first babysitter's club book at the age of seven, and hasn't been able to get her nose out of a book since she holds a BS in business administration from California state university Northridge and received her JD from Loyola law school in Los Angeles.

after spending a decade in the business world, it was Kiwit that she found herself in publishing let's dive into the interview. 

 Kimberly, thanks so much for being a part of this interview series. I'm really excited to chat with you. Let's start right at the beginning and talk about how you got interested in the publishing world. 

Kimberly Brower: No one knows what publishing is? I feel like it's like this cloak, like, it's like the wizard of Oz. You don't never know what's behind the, the, the, so I went to law [00:02:00] school and I. Realized very early on. I didn't wanna be a lawyer. But I had debt and I didn't wanna quit.

And I had to finish. I actually realized too late into law school that I didn't wanna be a lawyer. So I finished took the bar. I did what I had to do. And then from there I kind of. I started my own business. I just kind of helped a friend open his business. And because of that, I had a lot of free time.

And this was right when Kindle started coming out like 2011, 2010-2011. So Kindle started and I started just reading a ton of books. Like I said, I had a lot of free time cause I was just. I was very computer work and I started connecting with authors online, through social media, the power of social media.

And I just, it was very much in a friend way. And then it got to a point where some authors asked me to beta read for them. So I did so all like, just me as a reader, like no money, nothing just very like, I'm a fan, I'm gonna read your [00:03:00] book. And that started happening. And then an agent who owned her own agency in Los Angeles, she owned a boutique agency in Los Angeles.

She had reached out to me and she said, oh, I've heard about you. Will you read one of my author's books? And I was like, sure, because I was just doing it for fun. It wasn't like a job. And so I did. And then she's like, can you tell me a little bit about your background, what you're doing?

Like I sent it back to her and she was like, yeah. And I was like, yeah, I'm a lawyer. I have my own business. I'm in the process of selling my bus. I lived in California at the time and I was like, I'm gonna try to move back to New York. And she was like, well, what are you gonna do when you're in New York?

I'm like, I don't know. And she's like, are you gonna get a job and publishing? And I was like, thanks for like gonna get a job in publishing. And I. Like, that'd be great. Like if she was like, making me think about things I didn't wanna think about. And I was like, I was, and I, I was honest. I was like, I have massive student loans.

I cannot be an intern. I just can't. And from what I read, like, you have to start. As an [00:04:00] intern and you work your way up to it. I was like, I just can't do that. And she was like, well, would you consider being an agent? I will teach you everything. I know. I will introduce you to the people. I know you know, things I may not be familiar with.

Like, you're a lawyer. You can do contracts, you can do negotiation. Yeah. Those are things that I can't teach that you just know already. So we started working together and that was in 2014 and then I moved back to New York in 2015, and I just started working for her and it was great. And I just started building up my list.

And most of the people that were on my list were those, those authors that I was just reading early on. So props to them for like having faith in me and being like, Hey. This lady knows what she's doing, so sure. Let's try it. blind faith on their part, and then in 2016, I branched off and started my own agency.

David Gwyn: It's so funny. I remember reading your bio before this interview and I, I got through the first, like three sentences and it was all about how you were like a bookish kid growing up and reading. I was like, oh, you're gonna be the [00:05:00] classic, like English major intern. And then you just took a left turn and like business.

Kimberly Brower: Well, it's funny because I have people that work for me that are just getting out of college and I kind of tell them, and I have sisters that are 21 and I'm kind of like, I went the way you're supposed to go. I did what I was supposed to do. I went to college a four year college.

 I got a job in corporate America because that's what you're supposed. You need a paycheck, you need health insurance. That's what I did. I was like, I wasn't happy. So then I went to law school because if you're not happy, you just go back to school. Right. I do that. Like I did everything that we were, I was told that that was like the key to success.

And then I realized. Yeah, that wasn't really what I wanted to do, but I, if I didn't do all the things, if I didn't go to law school, I don't think I could be an agent. You know, like I don't know where I would be. But I had a very different entry point into publishing, which I think gives me.

A different outlook on publishing [00:06:00] because I don't really operate on in a way of like, oh, things are always just done this way. I that's never my answer. I always think outside the box, I always like working with editors or when it comes to structuring deals. I always trying to find, because I look at it from a business perspective, as opposed to like, this is like the publishing way we do it.

David Gwyn: Yeah. That's really interesting. Is that why you decided to branch out? I mean, you're working this, this boutique agency for a few years, and then you kind of started your own agency. Is it just cuz you saw a different way of things that, that things could be.

Kimberly Brower: No, I think it was, this is just a type, a personality thing. I know a lot of people, a lot of agents are like books. That's like my love, my love is business mm-hmm so that's so I love books, but like business, like I always loved helping businesses grow.

And so I wanted to ha start with my business. And essentially, I, I look at each author as a business, essentially like each author is a business, so I'm like essentially helping little businesses grow. And [00:07:00] that has, that's really kind of how I look at it. Of course I love books. I have a passion for books.

That's the bonus, but. It's really stemming from my love of business and business development. 

David Gwyn: I, I think that's awesome. I, I talked to Paula Munier, who's a literary agent. I talked to her a few weeks ago and we had kind of a similar conversation about how like, authors really need to think of themselves like entrepreneurs, like what we own our own little business.

And I think that business mind Aspect is so important. And it's something I think to your point is sometimes lost, you know, in the, in the love of, of books, which obviously everyone in this industry has a love of books, but like that idea of that, the way of thinking about yourself as a business or as an entrepreneur and, and the ways in which you can.

Market yourself and, and create a product. I mean, that's essentially what you're doing. So I think that's really interesting and I, I love that background. In business I feel like is so important. Is there, is there anything that you learned from that boutique agency that you were like, I'm [00:08:00] definitely doing that.

And what were, was there anything that you were like, I'm definitely doing things differently? Like where was that balance? 

Kimberly Brower: No, I, I, I have to give a lot of credit to the boutique agency that I was at because I think she taught me all of the cornerstones to what it was to be an agent. and by doing so, and this is what?

I will praise her so much for, she allowed me to, to think outside the box. She allowed me to be like, when I would ask questions, she'd be like, that's a good question. I don't, why don't, why not? Why are we doing it this way? Like, so she, it. Where I I've heard some other more of the old guard agencies are more like, this is how we do it, and this is how you're doing it.

And they have a lot of success doing it. So I'm not gonna knock that, but she allowed me room to grow and think. So. I think that in of itself helped me see, like, okay, there's more, this can be bigger then [00:09:00] or different then, and that's okay. Yeah. 

David Gwyn: No, that makes a lot of sense. So a as I, we talked about before I had Jessica Payne on here, one of your authors a few weeks ago, and the one thing that really stuck with me from that conversation Of her talking about working with you is that she talked about your like editorial style as an agent, at least specifically with her. Can you talk a little bit about like, what that means and, and why it's your style with her? Or is that your style with all of your, your authors or is it kind of a mix? 

Kimberly Brower: I think it's a mix I think because every author needs and, or wants something different from me, I have authors that are kind of like, I want your feedback, but.

I won't make any changes until I get the editor's feedback. Cause I wanna do it all at once. So, so if I. Sign a new author, like for, I'll just talk about how I did with Jessica, cuz it's all how I do with a lot of what we did is I signed her. I told her we had a lot of edits to make, she was on board. We went through a couple rounds of edits and then we went on [00:10:00] submission and even with her second book, We did still did edit edits before she turned it in.

Cuz my goal is always for my author to hand in the best possible book they could hand in cuz I want my authors to like rock stars to their editors to be like hands done. This, this author knows her stuff. It's not a complete hot mess. It is good. Yeah, that's my goal. So my it, but it's different for each person.

 But normally what I do is I'll read through the full first. I don't read in pieces. I only read a full manuscript, so I'll read through the first ring and as I go, I will make stream of consciousness notes. So they'll see like what I'm thinking. So if like something was surprising or I loved something or I will comment it so they know what like a reader reaction is.

And then when I'm done, I go back and I do write an editorial letter and it depends on what I think needs work. I'm not one of those people that fix things just to. Just to like earn my commission. I like fix it only if I think it needs fixing, I've [00:11:00] read manuscripts where I'm like, I love this, but here are a few things, right.

We can do to make a change. And I've read manuscripts where I'm like, this is great, but the entire first hundred pages , have to go. And this is why. So. For me, I guess my style is being very communicative, being very transparent being very honest and also not in a way where it's like my way or the highway I'm like here are suggest for me, it's more about pointing out a problem, giving a few solutions, but maybe that solution is not the one the author wants, but it at least helped their train of thought go.

So for me, it's more of just pointing out the problem. Like here's why I think this needs to change. This is what's going on. And I think. Because I do know some of my authors do use beta readers and some do not. So sometimes I am the first read. 

David Gwyn: Oh, interesting. Do you see a lot of your new clients? So anyone, you know, the ones that you're signing, the ones that your, your debut clients are, a lot of them coming to you, having done beta readers, [00:12:00] editors a mix of critique partners.

Like, is it a little bit of everything. 

Kimberly Brower: Yes. Not many people have come to me or at least that I know of with paid editors, like, but I definitely are many beta readers critique partners for sure. Especially my newer clients that are come to me, which I think is great. But then I think sometimes I think that's up to the, in terms of giving advice.

I think it's up to the author, cuz there might be a new author. That's like all these people are in my head and I don't know what to listen to. So I think it's also like, don't do it just because. Everyone's telling you, you have to do it. Do what's gonna work for you because like for example, Jessica, she's really great about taking different people's feedback and kind of like, I'll use this.

I don't agree with this. I agree with this. But some people don't operate that way. 

David Gwyn: Yeah, no, that makes total sense. So speaking, speaking of clients, what draws you to a project? What are you looking for now? 

Kimberly Brower: The voice 

I shouldn't say this, but I'm going to, I will know within the first five pages, if I like a manuscript Plot can [00:13:00] change. So for me, plot can change. Cuz there's a lot of manuscripts that I read where like the first couple pages or the beginning might need to be redone or it's a little slow to start, but that's not what I look for.

Because I'm saying plot can easily be changed and edited it for me. It's the voice. And then, , am I connecting with that voice? Is there something about that voice that's like, I wanna keep. Even if it's like their grocery list, I wanna keep reading your grocery list because there's something about your voice.

So for me, it's, it's it's voice. But in terms of when I I'll tell you, like, when I get a query, a couple things going through my head, I do read what the plot is in the summary. And I'm like, oh, that sounds interesting. That's when I'll read the pages. But if the plot off the bat does not, I kind of just.

 And you're you kind of ask, like, what am I looking for? I feel like I'm giving the answer that editors give me, so I don't feel too bad. like I'll and it's really awful. So I know how awful it is when editors tell me this. So I [00:14:00] know for authors, how awful this is gonna sound. It's like, I'll know it when I read it.

It's kind one of those things and it's horrible. And I'm so sorry. But I also think in a good. Now's the time where editors, where a lot of people are open-minded to a lot of different genres and topics. Whereas I feel like two years ago they were very rigid. It was very like, I only want this. I only, I don't want this.

I don't want cross genre. I don't, but now I feel like people are a little open-minded if the story's good. Oh, interesting. And I think so that's. Hearing that sounds very like, oh, that's not helpful, but in a way it's like, I feel like it should be hopeful because it means that just because you're writing a story that kind of crossed genre or something that maybe isn't traditional.

That there's hope because people are open minded to a lot of things right now in a ways they weren't before. And I think that's, what's [00:15:00] great. 

David Gwyn: Yeah. It really sounds to me like, it's like your book, like whatever your book is, pitch your book and like it'll, if it's good enough, it'll find a home and, and, and you just gotta find the right home for, I mean, that's, I mean, that's probably the best that people can ask for in a lot of ways.

Kimberly Brower: Yeah. I mean, it was a really hard time in publishing. I wanna say a couple years ago when it was very, they were very specific and that was because retailers were very specific on what they wanted to put on their shelves. So we only want psychological thrillers. We only want this, we only want this.

And so it, it became very limited. And so you had to fit into one of these boxes, but now we don't really have to do that anymore. And that. That's exciting. 

David Gwyn: So when you're thinking about signing an author or you, you like a manuscript, are, are there any like intangibles that you look for in a client?

Like something that you either see in a bio or, you know, it sounds like the manuscript you're really voice driven. You really like the, the voice part, but is there even anything on like a phone call with an author that makes [00:16:00] you really wanna represent them? 

Kimberly Brower: Yeah. I feel like the on the phone call, because separate from liking the manuscript.

You have to be able to work with somebody. And I feel like, and granted, it's kind of like a blind date. Right? You meet someone and whether you have a phone call or a zoom, a zoom appointment, you're kind of, you're kind of like, okay, I'm gonna, cause we're all presenting our best selves. Right. It's the first date it's, which is fine, but like, If the conversation flows I'm also someone that's very transparent.

So if I think there needs to be edits, even though I love it, I will shower you with praise, but I will also be like, this is what you can expect from me. So I don't, I don't hide some, if I don't do bait in switches, I try to be as transparent as possible. So someone will know what they're getting when they get me.

And I respect that in return. So when that comes from me, it's more just. Do I think we can get along. Do I think we can work together? Like in terms of the editorial process, like if we're talking about something, do I think we [00:17:00] will be able to figure that out? I think you just know, I feel like you've, you've probably been on, you don't have to name names, but you've probably been on interviews where like, can this be over?

Cuz we need to be done. like, so it's similar. It's similar. 

David Gwyn: It's so funny because I, you know, as a, a writer on the writer's side of the, of the querying process, you know, you hear all the time, people are like, I'll take any agent. And I, I feel like that's the wrong way to think about it. You, it, it really is.

It's like this partnership and it's, it's like, we've talked about like a business partnership in which you need to ensure that the person you're working with is gonna work well with you. Otherwise you're gonna put out a product. No one wants, and then that's the end of that relationship. It really needs to be something like you're saying, like there, there is a certain feel to it that is necessary in a lot of ways.

Kimberly Brower: And it's a business relationship kind of going back to what I said earlier. And like it's a business relationship. This person is like negotiating and talking about not only. Like, but it's also what your future books were gonna be like, what your option language is gonna be. Like. There's [00:18:00] a lot of things that are going in.

Are they listening to you? Are you like, and vice versa? , can you communicate effectively so we're, you're always on the same page. 

David Gwyn: Yeah. Yeah, that's so cool. I hope writers are listening to that and, and really thinking critically about, about their agent choices.

Okay. Let's pause here for just a second. Uh, I thought this was so cool and worth restating. So if you're a writer and you're looking for an agent, remember that this is a relationship that you want to last beyond just one book.

Don't be so eager to sign with someone unless you feel like it's going to be a useful working relationship. Something that will last for a long time, don't be in a rush to sign with an agent just because you feel like you need one as soon as possible. And look, I've been there and have had many of those same feelings.

The longer I talk to agents and authors in the industry, the more important it seems to me that we shouldn't rush that vital relat. 

I want to make a quick plug for the five minute writer. This is a new series I'm doing to help you save time. It's a free weekly newsletter providing five minutes summaries of [00:19:00] a longer article podcasts, videos, courses, or books. It's designed to give you the highlights without the fluff, so you can gain the knowledge without wasting time. 

So you can get back to writing. Be sure to sign up and join the more than 100 writers who have trusted writerly lifestyle with their publishing futures. Plus you get the first edition right now. It's linked below. 

In the next part of this interview, I ask Kimberly what her suggestions are for editing your manuscript. And she shares the suggestions she makes to her authors that she represents when it comes to editing.

Plus, she gives us a peak inside an agent's mindset when taking on a project and it's not something I hear often. So I found it particularly interesting to hear what goes into the decision that she makes when signing a client. Let's head back to the interview. 

So the second season O of my podcast is all about what to do from , pressing the end on that first draft to getting ready to query it. It feels like a very muddy space where people don't know what to do. Like there's a lot about how to write a manuscript and a lot about querying, 

and so you know, [00:20:00] obviously for you as like a kind of editorial hands on agent If, if writers are in that space where they're, you know, maybe on a second or third pass on their manuscript, is there something that they should be thinking about, maybe something that you talk to your writers about on their kind of second pass or on that editorial?

Like, is there something that you keep going back to or something that writers should think about as they're going through? 

Kimberly Brower: I feel like the first round of edits is where you make your major.

You're like you point out your problem areas and you're like, these need to change. Not saying that you fix it completely on the first round, but you at least know this is where. And then from there it's more like fine tuning. And then obviously there's a cause and effect from there, right? Like you change one thing that might affect something later on that you didn't change.

But you're like, oh, now that I did this, I have to change that. But I think, I think some authors don't know when to stop editing their book. So sometimes I think it's a matter of, are you still tweaking the exact same thing? On the sixth pass? Are you still working on the exact same at that point?

I think you can let it [00:21:00] go, but it, for me, it's just more of you go through your first round , and then when you're reading it through something I learned is that. Once you read through you, sometimes once all the content edits you think are done and then you read through, you're like, oh, but some, this is completely missing, like completely missing.

So I need to go back and do that. It's not a big change, but you're like, oh, because I did all these changes, this is lacking. , so it's almost like always read through because little changes in one part could affect changes later, depending on what your book's about. 

David Gwyn: Yeah, I wish we were talking about six months ago.

I feel like I'm one of those, I'm one of those people who will like come up with something in, you know, first couple chapters, I'm like, oh, this would be cool. Like, let me add this. Let me change this part. And then it just, just creates plot holes all the way down the track, if that makes sense.

And I'm like, go through that whole thing. And then I'm like, oh, but wait, that created a new thing. And like, I just, I feel like listening to you now, I'm like, oh, I wish I had thought of. [00:22:00] In a different way, you know, and just that kinda like macro to micro, as opposed to like, make a change and go all the way through, make another change, go all the way through.

Cause it's been, it's been a haul trying to get 

Kimberly Brower: through it. Yes, yes, no, I agree. I feel like authors are their worst critics, so you're, you're gonna be the hardest on yourself than anyone else will be on you. 

David Gwyn: Hmm. So I wanna, I wanna talk a little bit about your, your agency, cause you have a, a, a staff, you have people working with you and other agents.

Yes. And, and can you talk a little bit about your agenting team kind of holistically? What draws you to a particular agent when hiring someone and what goes into that decision? 

Kimberly Brower: Both Jess and Amy, they're both the other agents. They started with me from the beginning. Like Amy started with me as an intern and Jess.

Started very early on as well. She was working for a talent agency, and she had had previous agent experience, but she had come over. So and they were with me from right when I started the agency. So it's been great. And for me it's what am [00:23:00] I looking for?

 They don't have to like the same books. I like that's for one that's. One thing I think is a little bit misnomer. Maybe a bit about, at least from what I've heard, we don't all do the same type of books. Like that's boring. But be able to articul. Things about books, be able to talk about books and like, not just what they love about them, but what they would change, what they, what how they would pitch it.

Just look at books from an analytical view. I also say for, I also tell everybody I've had some interns and I've also said it almost can ruin your love of reading.

Like I, when I read for fun, I only listen to audio books and I love audio books, but I can't read a book be it anymore because when I do, it's hard to mentally turn off the brain So I only can listen to books when I read for fun. Oh, funny. It's it's so it's it. Changed my view, but that's also cuz I'm like on a computer all the time.

And so like when I'm on a phone, like my emails are coming through so it's kinda nice to just like when you [00:24:00] have your audio in, you can kind of like block out everything else. But I just think it's people that are also people that are always cause I to this day still learn and know that I'm not always right.

So like people that are always like looking to like learn more about the editorial books, learn more about publishing, learn more about that. That's kind of in terms of my team as a. 

David Gwyn: Nice. And so in internally, how much are you discussing projects with one another? I mean, are, are you sharing all your manuscripts?

Is it kind of a, if you get stuck on one, you, you bounce it off or are you all sharing kind of ideas about everything that comes through your agency? 

Kimberly Brower: No. So we each individually consider our own. And when we are considering a project or asking for an author call, we kind of have a meeting and where everybody, we write up a, like a reader's report essentially, so that everybody in the agency, and we can just talk it out And also, I think it helps prepare us as agents [00:25:00] for that agent call because , we have a better sense of like, this is our strategy.

This would be our pitch. This is why we think we're really good for it. This is why we think we can sell it. So it's almost like a test run more than anything. And it also I've had scenarios where some agents have brought something to us and we've been on a call. And then all of a sudden they're like, oh, I.

I don't think this book is for me anymore. Like, it's weird because the way it just makes them think about things in a different way. When you have to talk about it, rather than do I just like this book, right. Because that's another thing with agenting. There are, it's not about like, just liking a book.

You have to be able to sell a book, which is a very different. It's different than liking a book. I wish I was just about liking books. So it'd be so much easier. 

David Gwyn: no, that's such an interesting perspective that, that I don't, who really hear that often from agents and, and I'm sure is true, you know, they're, they're thinking about it as much, like a, like a business and you can like something, but is that enough to, for [00:26:00] you to spend how many.

Months and rounds of edits and, and everything you have to really be invested. It sounds like in, in a project for it to really work, there 

Kimberly Brower: have been some great projects that I've like really loved, but I had no idea how I would sell it. I was like, I don't know how I would pitch it. 

And I was like, I could try. But I kind of feel like that would be almost a disservice to the author. I don't wanna speak for any other agents, but me personally, I need to, before I offer, I have to , know how I'll sell it. That's also how I know if it's a project I wanna work on.

Cause I'm like, oh, I know how to sell. I know what the comps are. I know how to pitch it. I know what I'm gonna do. I know what my strategy would be for it. And if I don't have that, even if sitting on it for a while, that means to me that I'm, I just really just genuinely liked the book, but I just don't think I could sell it.


David Gwyn: that makes a lot of sense. So I, I love asking these questions, these two questions of agents, but I know that they're hard. So I'm, I'm prefacing that, or maybe it's [00:27:00] not, you might have an idea in your head of already for these two, but I do like to ask them, so, okay. What is the most difficult part of being a literary agent?

Kimberly Brower: The rejections and having to tell the authors the reject. And it's not just the rejections, it's the not finding a home. That's really hard. Cause you know how much work and time and effort they put into it. So hearing the no and having to deliver those news, that's hard. That's really hard.

Because we're working on it. We're obviously really excited about it and we are passionate about it too. So it's almost like, even though it wasn't my baby, my project, it sort of is because I'm like, no, I wanna sell it determined to sell this, not finding it is very telling. 

David Gwyn: Yeah. And are you, are you with authors?

I mean, maybe this is different or it depends on the author. Are you sharing with them, you know, who you're going out on submission to and like where it's going or are you kind of just saying like, I'll, I'll call you when it's done? [00:28:00]

Kimberly Brower: No, I, well, I think it depends. I like telling everybody what imprints and where I normally don't give out editor names.

Here's why. In the past, I've had scenarios where someone has started, like in a meant, in a nice way, but like started following those editors and like commenting a lot. And I just felt very, like, let's just not, and I don't wanna tell, and it's not my place to tell people how to behave. So I feel like, okay, I'm gonna tell you.

What imprints they are. And and when they pass, I could tell you, no, I could tell you who it is if you wanna know. Right. Or if they, you know, or if they're interested in, they're saying, yes, I'm, I'm getting second read. I'll tell you. But for the initial submission, I usually just that being said, I'm not gonna be, if someone's like, I'm I really wanna know.

I'll tell I'm not gonna be like some, like gatekeeper. Yeah. Like I we're all adults and I expect, expect everyone to be adults, but, but you never know. Cause I've had. [00:29:00] Interesting experiences. 

David Gwyn: I feel like the publishing world is, is full of that as, as I guess any industry is right. Mm-hmm okay. Part two of my, of my difficult questions for literary agents.

If you had a magic wand and could fix one part of the book publishing process or industry, what would it be? 

Kimberly Brower: Transparency in terms of. Why they're saying no to a project in terms of marketing and expenses on how much they're gonna commit to a book basically it's one thing to get an offer, which is great.

And offer is like more than like, that's like a great, but is the offer, are you gonna be like, just this low level, mid list person that they just kind of just publish and don't do anything for? That would be great to know in. and I know sometimes you don't know things change, but I would love transparency.

I feel like the author is kind of blindly deciding to go with a publisher, especially if. It's through an agent. So not only is the author blindly go it's me [00:30:00] because I chose that person to submit to. And then if that's the only offer they get, and they like what they liked talking to the editor, they like the imprint.

They like the publisher. Great. But it's still a little blind. You really, you you'll, you see what they do for other authors maybe. And that's great, but you never know what they're gonna do for your book. It's definitely a leap of faith. And I don't know if it's always. Respected that leap of faith. 

David Gwyn: Mm. Yeah.

I, I hear that. Especially from, I think authors who have. Gone through a couple of books and they think, you know, they're, they're a little bit more, it seems like they're a little more strategic about, you know, maybe the, maybe the offer that they're getting is lower, but they know that they're gonna get something else.

Right. Like there's something that makes them look at all the offers and say like, eh, this offer's the highest, but I don't want to go there for a reason. And I think that, that mm-hmm, that strategic dance. It, it sounds like it's [00:31:00] really hard to. 

Kimberly Brower: It is. Yeah. I mean, it's just because you're, you don't really know.

And I respect the fact that publishers can't tell you everything that that's just the nature of it. Like you just can't and I get that, but on some level , I wish there was a little bit more transparency. So what goes into the thought process of doing X, Y, and Z when, especially when sometimes authors have no say.

David Gwyn: Yeah, love it. Okay. Let's, let's wrap up here because I know you're busy and I'm sure you probably had 50 emails since we started talking. 

Kimberly Brower: I haven't looked, I turned it off. I took off 

David Gwyn: for you. It's I appreciate that. Probably a constant ding going on. Alright, so are there any. Books or resources that you suggest for aspiring writers, anything off the top of your head that you think is really important for writers who are hoping to kind of get over that hump of, you know, they've written, you know, manuscript or two or three or four.

And they're really just trying to make this one count. 

Kimberly Brower: I think writer's [00:32:00] digest is really great. I know they also hold, I don't know if writer's digest holds, but there's a lot of writing workshops and a lot of them since COVID are online, so it's more affordable, less travel, which is great. I think that's great because they have a really good speakers and panels and you have the opportunity to do pitches or query critiques and things like that.

And I think that's really helpful. I also think from what I've heard. Facebook groups of like other writers in your same position? I think having someone to commiserate with is really helpful and share information with is really helpful. I, I don't really know too many Facebook groups I'm sure, but I know there's mom's writers club, so who.

They're not prejudiced against men, so they welcome men too. So even though it's mom's right, but they they'll welcome men. So but I'm just saying like, groups like that, where they're just about supporting other writers, I think is really helpful. Cuz I feel like writing is a very isolated activity. 

David Gwyn: Hmm.

Yeah. Books, your reading or love or wanna share and, and they can be client work. If you've [00:33:00] got something upcoming and you wanna share. 

Kimberly Brower: I just finished. This is so a big name. I just finished hotel Nantucket by Ellen Hildebrand and I loved it. Loved it. If that is not a TV show, something's wrong. Cause it's so great.

just cause it was a great beach read. It was very, it was good. What else have I loved? I'm excited to read Taylor Jenkins, read it's next upcoming book. In terms of my clients I have Jessica's the lucky one is coming out in September. That's a domestic expense, psychological thriller.

And I also have an author called Al Jian coming out in October with a love triangle romance called beautiful graves with Amazon. So those are my next two upcoming trade release. 

David Gwyn: Nice. That's great. Okay. What is one thing you hope writers take away from this conversation? 

Kimberly Brower: We're people too.

, we're not scary. We understand and we're, we just wanna help. even though it could come off harsh or like rejections and stuff, but we are, [00:34:00] we, we wanna help. We want to find the best fit we wanna, we we're we're human and we just, we want the same things.


David Gwyn: Yeah, no, I love that message. I, I hear that from agents, the, the we're humans and we're queer people and it's, it's, it's funny because it, it is one of those things. I feel like. And I, I have like a critique group that I, that I work with and, and we always say the same thing.

 You don't want an agent who doesn't want you and that's okay. It's not, it's not as much a rejection as it is. Like we're just not the right fit. I think reframing of that rejection idea, it, it just needs to happen for a lot of writers and. Because I do.

I think that they take it personally and I think you just can't, it's just, it's just not a, it's not a place for that. That part of that, of the book writing process can, can't be personal. Maybe it's the only part, but it can't be. 

Kimberly Brower: Yeah. And if someone gives you a good rejection, a good rejection is that that's enough say more, but if someone gives you beyond the [00:35:00] standard, it's not the right fit, but gives you actually constructive criticism.

I say, take it. I'm not saying you have to listen to it, but maybe that's hitting maybe. Consider it, because if they felt it, maybe someone else will feel the same way. 

David Gwyn: And my last question is where can people find you? Either online or on social media? I'm 

Kimberly Brower: the worst social media person. I am the, I am the agent that loves being in the background.

The reason I am an agent is I like being them background, but website is Brower My Twitter is at Kimberly Brower cause that's easy. And I think my Instagram's Kimberly Brower too. 

 If you go to Brower, literary, my, my handles are under my bio. 

David Gwyn: If you're listening, I'll link.

I'll link to that. So you've got you can easily find Kimberly

Kimberly Brower: I am the worst when it comes to that. Yeah. So that's okay. but at least, you know, I'm working behind the scenes, I'm working on other stuff behind the scenes. I'm just not publicly talking about it. 

David Gwyn: Yeah. There you go. Perfect. Well, Kimberly, this has been a amazing and so insightful. I [00:36:00] I'm sure people are gonna get a lot out of this.

Thank you so much for taking the time chat with me. This 

Kimberly Brower: was, so this was so fun. It was so nice to meet you. And this was so fun. 

David Gwyn: So there you have it. If you're looking for an agent this year, I'm sure you found this an insightful and useful conversation.

And if you're planning on querying, Kimberly, be sure to let her know you heard her on the writerly lifestyle interview series. Also, don't forget to grab your copy of the five minute writer. You can find that in the podcast description next week, I'll be sharing an interview with Bianca Marray. Bianca has a new book out now and is the host of the much loved podcast.

The shit no one tells you about. As always, she's an absolute joy to talk to. So be sure to subscribe. So you get notified when that interview drops in the coming weeks, I have award-winning authors and more agents headed your way. Don't miss out on getting the information you need to go from aspiring author to a published one.

I'll see you next week.