Literary Scout

Literary Scout

LiteraryScout

New York, NY

Female, 0

Literary scouts work with foreign publishers to help determine which American books they should acquire. We spend our days (and nights!) reading manuscripts, writing reports, meeting with agents and publishers, and speaking with clients to keep them apprised of developments. Scouts don’t make much money, but the perks and fun help make up for that.

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Last Answer on April 11, 2013

Best Rated

Why is teen fiction - hunger games, twilight, harry potter - so popular all of a sudden?

Asked by mrx over 5 years ago

Publishing houses tend to pay giant advances for the next "it" adult fiction novel these days. As a result they are very careful about what they purchase. Things tend to be safe and follow pretty specific formulas. There's more room for creativity in Young Adult writing and so that's one possible reason there's such an influx of attention to these series. The other possibility is that American adults aren't super smart and are overwhelmed by real literature. I don't mean there's anything wrong with reading YA stuff as part of a mix of books. The issue is when the books that make millions of dollars are primarily YA rather than adult novels.

Are you evaluated on anything other than the commercial success of the books you get published?

Asked by Hutch over 5 years ago

I would say that a successful scout needs good taste, an understanding of what makes a manuscript commercially viable, a nose for tracking down sources for the next big thing, and the ability to form strong, long-lasting bonds with clients. When clients are in town it's the scouts who typically arrange their schedules, go to some meetings with them, and meet with them frequently throughout the day. During books fairs we spend days with each other, going out for drinks, dinners, more drinks, etc. That friendship is what keeps clients with scouts for years and may cause them to follow a scout who leaves an agency.

What recent best-sellers do you think are TOTALLY overrated??

Asked by Tried and Trudy over 5 years ago

I have to say that I really, really disliked Sarah's Key. The Tiger's Wife was pretty good, but didn't blow me away. A Visit from the Goon Squad was terrific, but the last few chapters really disappointed.

Do scouts look only at book manuscripts, or does your coverage extend to other stuff like journalism, blogs, editorials, etc?

Asked by MadMax over 5 years ago

Scouts are only reading book manuscripts, but if there is a really notable piece of media that is preceding a likely book (like Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture video or the Dragon Mother’s media buzz), that’s certainly important to be aware of as well. Scouts need to be plugged into what topics are hot and what people are hungry for more of.

To what extent have blogs become a sourcing ground for literary scouts?

Asked by Skeener over 5 years ago

They have certainly become a sourcing ground for agents, but as scouts receive manuscripts only after they are already out on submission to US publishers or after they have been accepted for publication, we’re mostly interested in how big of a following the blog has. If a book has a built-in audience that’s certainly something our clients should know.

Do you have to run checks for plagarism on manuscripts you review?

Asked by SaltairLA over 5 years ago

Nope. That's the responsibility of the American publishers working directly with the authors.

Can a novelist achieve success through self-publishing, or is a traditional publisher required to really make things happen?

Asked by Mark over 5 years ago

There is the very rare story of a breakout self-publishing hit like The Shack, but it’s atypical. There are so many self-published books out there that it is almost pointless to spend time trying to weed out the good from the bad. This is why we really only work with agents and publishers. For example, scouts started reading The Shack only after it had been acquired by a large publishing house.