Wicked Wednesday — Thankful To Our Agent


This is the last day of our Thankful To Our Readers giveaways! Thanks for sticking with us this month

Leave a comment for a chance to win Eggnog Murder with holiday novellas by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis and Barbara Ross AND a book by Liz Mugavero! (And it’s Liz’s birthday today, too, so leave lots of comments. Ssshh, don’t tell her I said so…)


It’s unusual for a group of writers who blog together to have the same agent but we Wickeds do. It’s John Talbot of the Talbot Fortune Agency. Today we are sharing stories about working with John.

Liz: We all pretty much share the same story, so here goes. Back in 2011, John reached out to Sheila Connolly, then-president of Sisters in Crime New England, and asked her if she could refer some writers who might want to work on cozy mystery proposals with him. Not wanting to pick and choose, Sheila put the word out to the whole chapter, and a bunch of us answered the call. I emailed John and he got back to me right away. Within a few days we were on the phone discussing how my interests might fit into something he could sell. We brainstormed and came up with the gourmet pet food idea, and the rest, as they say, is history! Thanks, John, for being such a great partner in this crazy business.

john-talbotJulie: There are three things I appreciate about John. First, he helps me think about my career arc. What is a good next step, what should I be thinking about. Like Liz, I feel like he’s a partner on this journey. Second, he has opinions, and shares them. You don’t just hand him a proposal–he works with you on it until he feels like it is ready to send out. Third, he’s a good guy. This is too crazy a business to be on a ride where you don’t like the other person in the car with you.

Edith: Same story as Liz’s, except with me he sold the Local Foods Mysteries. I’ve now sold four series via John Talbot, and I agree with everything Julie says about him. Another thing he helps with is understanding the nearly undecipherable royalty statements from one of my publishers. The statements come twice a year in tiny print. After Barb alerted us to read them very, very carefully, I found an mistake in one of mine, which John got straightened out with the press. It was their error, of course, not his (see  Barb’s first item below). But I wouldn’t even know what to look at without his help. He also picks up every time I call. I don’t phone unless I really need to talk to him, and he realizes that.

Barb: Here are four things I treasure about John.

  • He’s as honest as they come. I never worry, ever, about the publisher sending him my money and him passing it to me. I have been in other relationships (never with a literary agent, but in my past professional life) where that wasn’t the case, and I can tell you it stinks.
  • He’s approachable. I was terrified of my first literary agent. I’m sure that was a lot more about where I was at during that time in my life than it was about her, but it does not make for an easy relationship.
  • He shares. John goes considerably out of his way several times a year to update us on trends in the publishing industry and how they might affect us. Some agents are of the “mushroom” school of managing clients (keep them in the dark and spread manure). I can’t say how much I appreciate being treated like a grownup and having this important information.
  • He’s committed. Many readers know there has been upheaval in the mystery publishing world over the last couple of years. Watching John work his tail off to keep his clients in print has been a wonder.
This is a picture from Crime Bake a few years ago.
This is a picture from Crime Bake a few years ago.

Sherry: John became my agent when Barb told me he was looking for someone to write a garage sales series — that’s the short version! And ditto to everything Barb said (except the first agent business — I’ve never had another agent). As a first time author John walked me through the process and answered all of my anxiety-ridden questions. I’m thankful for John because he makes me laugh when I’m down about something or frustrated. Like Julie said he wants us to have long and fruitful careers and goes out of his way to help make that happen. He is frank with his thoughts about ideas for new series. His advice has been invaluable and I feel blessed to be part of his team.

Jessie: Considering the business we are in, it delights me that John is a great storyteller. I won’t be a bit surprised if one day he writes a book of his own. I also appreciate his enthusiasm.  I always know when he feels I have handed him a sure thing because of his response. He doesn’t hold back about how much he likes what he sees and how well it will fit with an editor he has in mind.

Readers: Who has helped you either personally or professionally?




70 Thoughts

  1. What a great interview and comments about your literary agent. Its nice to know the backgrounds of the authors we read and enjoy.

  2. My parents have helped me in so many ways I don’t know how I could ever begin to repay them for how they have helped. P.S.– Happy Birthday, Liz! 🎂🎈

  3. Happy birthday Liz!!🎂
    John sounds like a great guy and fortunate to work with all of you. When I feel adrift, I remember how much my parents believed in me.

  4. Wonderful “back story” for all of you. Thank you for sharing another insight into the authorship business. And thank you, John! Without your work, the wonderful writing of all the authors of this blog might not have made it into my hands.
    Liz, wishing you a fabulous birthday, and a marvelous year!

  5. My husband. He always thinks I can do anything I want. And then takes it for granted when I do it! That is more affirming than amazement.

  6. For me… its my parents who still help me in so many ways.. and also the woman that owns the dog training center where I train in various sports and activities with my service dog… and there’s my service dog Cooley who is there faithfully for me 24/7 and without whom, life would be hard.

  7. Happy Birthday Liz!!! It’s nice to know that there are still great people in the world, especially in areas that have fallen on hard times.

  8. If I had “fulfilled the destiny” others had proscribed I would not have celebrated my silver jubilee last week of my ordination! I’d still be cooking in a restaurant….to those who supported me and have joined the cloud of witnesses I tip my hat: Rev. Dr. Kathleen Henry, Rev. Dr. Gene Jaberg, Rev. Dr. James Nelson, Elanie B-C,Ms. Grace Jessop, Ms. SPG, and my spouse. Never coulda done it without you!

  9. Happy Birthday Liz! Thank you all for sharing about John! It was nice to hear about how helpful an agent can be. Thank you John! It is nice to hear how helpful agents can be.

  10. I’ve just started working with John (thanks, Sherry!) so I don’t have a lot of success stories to share about how amazing he is to work with but I will say that our first discussion was the result of my pitch blurb being shared with him (thanks again, Sherry!) and I was so impressed by how much he cared about who I was as a person – half the call was about the book/series and the other half was about me, as a person. And that was even BEFORE he read any of the book. It was obvious that was part of his decision-making process to see if we were a good fit.

  11. Happy birthday, Liz! 🍰

    Congrats to all of you for finding John. What a blessing.

    I’ve had a lot of great people support and encourage me all of my (long) life, but my husband has been my biggest cheerleader (and goader) for 43 years.

  12. I’m thankful for John, too, since it lead to all your books being published. I smile any time I see his name pop up in acknowledgements of the books I read. (Yes, I carefully read the acknowledgements every time.)

    And happy birthday, Liz!

  13. I’ve been in book jail, so I just saw this. John is indeed a treasure! I’m thankful for his guidance as I start voyaging into this crazy world of publishing, and I remain thankful for all the help from family, friends, Sisters in Crime, and the wonderful Wickeds. Big happy birthday to Liz! I hope it’s a wonderful day.

  14. Happy Birthday Liz! And congrats to you all for having such a wonderful agent! I always find my work colleagues to be tremendously supportive, which makes me lucky indeed.

  15. John is everything you could want in an agent (although I’ll give mine–Jessica Faust of BookEnds–top honors). He follows through and he gets the deals done. And he’s a nice guy. A great combination!

  16. My Dad always helped me personally and professionally — he was my biggest cheerleader. After working in Washington, D.C. for several years, I moved back to Texas to work for his oil company and learn the oil business. He taught me almost everything, but also stepped back many times so I could learn how to do things myself. He called problems opportunities ~

  17. Having a really good agent is definitely something to be grateful for!.I’m grateful to my late mother,an avid reader who shared her love of books with me and her granddaughter. Happy Holidays and thanks for your terrific books!

  18. Happy Birthday Liz! It’s great that your agent is so hardworking, ethical, and dependable. I’m not on a career track at the moment…situations in my family life derailed that train…but I have had some great mentors, many of them in school, both in elementary school and in college. Just having people say, “Hey, you can do this, I believe in you” at the right time is often what I’ve needed the most.

  19. Happy Birthday to you and thank you for the chance to win.
    I admire this man who is so much a role model for others.
    I never had a Dad or a male role model so I admire those men that step up to be a example . Well Done.

  20. Ladies, I have so enjoyed your month of thanksgiving—many thanks to all of you for sharing it with us! Love, love, love this post—every word true.

    And happy birthday Liz! <3

  21. Happy birthday Liz!!! I hope you did or do something fabulous today!! I’m stopping by to say a big thank you to the Wickeds for a month of fun! You guys are great! Looking forward to more greats posts. We appreciate you all so very much!

  22. Wow, John sounds like a great guy and a very hardworking agent who has worked tirelessly to help all of the Wickeds! Happy Birthday, Liz!!

  23. Great information from everyone! HappyBirthday- no one told me to say that. I just know things. hehe Thanks for the chance to win on the last day of Thankful month!

  24. Happy, happy birthday, Liz. Many, many more! Love your books. Sounds like all of you are very lucky to have John as your agent. My Dad was the person who helped me to believe in my self and believed that I could do whatever I wanted to do. Both my sister and I followed him in the transportation industry and succeed because of what we learned from him. He was a great Dad and role model.

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