the following article is reprinted from

NEW SALES: Harper (Again), The Wylie Agency and Others Vie for the Big Frankfurt Book PJ MARK: Foreign publishers are eating up narrative nonfiction about geology and geography. Dutton seems to be changing its editorial profile slightly and going for bigger and edgier stuff. Hoffman was also the winner of three-day auction for The Seashell on the Mountaintop: How a Humble 17th Century Genius Solved the Greatest Geological Riddle of His Time and Forever Changed the World by Alan Cutler. Agent Jody Rein sold the work in a North American rights only deal for $265,000. The book is about Nicolaus Steno, a scientist turned Catholic priest, one of the most brilliant minds of the 17th century, who wrote about finding fossils — like seashells — on mountains, and was the first to posit that the earth is probably much older than originally thought. Agnes Krup handles UK and translation rights, and is comparing the author’s writing to that of Simon Winchester and Dava Sobel; German rights have already sold to Karl Blessing.
Reprinted from

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: “Hot Deals” column


The publisher’s Beardstown Ladies franchise lost some credibility last week, what with the revelation that their investment returns are less than claimed, but editor-in-chief Martha Levin is perhaps hoping to find another Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, with her $250,000, two-book deal with agent Jody Rein to acquire Lost & Found, a self-published title by John A. Jenson. This Dale Carnegie-trained speaker’s motivational musings on how every loss in life has a silver lining has sold 900 copies to date just via word of mouth that began in Jenson’s hometown, Wahpeton, N.D.
–Judy Quinn


Colorado-based agent Jody Rein, a former Dell and Avon executive editor, had a nice, if not hair-pulling, bidding frenzy last week for Beethoven’s Hair, a proposed work of nonfiction by Russell Martin (formerly repped by Barney Karpfinger) that, yes, follows some 582 strands of the master’s tresses throughout the ages. A hank of hair, yanked out with roots and all, by a young Jewish musician at the time of Beethoven’s death, was eventually passed on to some Danes who helped the musician’s descendants escape Nazi Germany.

In recent years, the hair was auctioned at Sotheby’s; it was purchased by Beethoven fanatics Alfredo Guevara and Ira Brilliant—who has his own web site, where you can click on a picture of the hair—and is now undergoing extensive DNA analysis. Broadway editor-in-chief John Sterling ended up buying world rights to the book with what is rumored to be a just over mid-six-figure bid; a fall 2000 publication is planned.
–Judy Quinn

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: “Hot Deals” column

Migratory editors in search of higher earnings should take heart from a new title just bought by Roger Scholl at Doubleday. It’s called, quite boldly,Quit Your Job Often and Get Big Raises, and its author, Denver salesman Gordon Miller, claims to have done just that, quadrupling his starting salary of $40,000 by means of four moves in five years. He originally self-published the book, peddled it himself to local stores, including the chains Tattered Cover, and in six weeks had sold thousands of copies. He then latched on to local agent Jody Rein, who sold the book in New York in a week, after a duel between two would-be pre-empting publishers, for “a solid six figures.” This is a two-book deal for U.S. rights only, and includes a follow-up book that will probably be called, after its author’s nickname,The Career Coach. Meanwhile, Miller, who already has local radio and TV shows, is busy developing a national platform of seminars and lectures. The book will be out just in time for job-changing New Year’s resolutions to be made.
–John F. Baker


Reprinted from Publishers Weekly (hot deals column), March 19, 2001:
“Denver-based agent Jody Rein made a substantial six-figure sale to Mitch Hoffman at Dutton of a book about Picasso’s painting Guernica and the little Spanish town, bombed in the Civil War, that inspired it. The author is Russell Martin, who did last year’s Beethoven’s Hair(Broadway). The North American rights sale followed an auction; Agnes Krup is selling foreign rights.”
Reprinted from Publishers Lunch (community deals), April 9, 2001:
“Dean King’s Skeletons on the Zahara, about a group of American merchant sailors “who involuntarily became the first Western explorers of the Sahara desert after being shipwrecked off the coast of Africa in 1815, enslaved for months, and who then escaped, in large part due to the heroism of the ship’s captain” [sold] to Geoff Shandler at Little, Brown, in a major deal, by Jody Rein (NA). Foreign rights are being sold by Agnes Krup.”
From Publishers Lunch, July 2, 2001
Star of the PBS series “The ImaginationStation,” Mark Kistler’s series of single subject children’s cartooning books, to Maria Barbo at Scholastic, in a “darn close to good” deal, by Jody Rein (World English).

Reprinted from
Thursday, Nov. 29, 2001

“Zahara” Saga Sold
Intermedia options shipwreck tale of 1800s
by Jonathan Bing

In a deal worth mid-six figures, Intermedia has optioned “Skeletons on the Zahara,” true story of American sailors shipwrecked in Africa in the 19th century. Baltimore/Spring Creek producers Barry Levinson and Paula Weinstein will produce.

The project is based on a book that Dean H. King is writing for Little, Brown. Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard who wrote “The Great Raid” a pic John Dahl is directing for Miramax, are adapting. “Skeletons” concerns a group of sailors kidnapped and sold into slavery by Berber tribesman while attempting to cross the Sahara after their ship ran aground off the African Coast. Book explores the relationship of the white slaves and their Muslim captors.

Historic shipwrecks have lately become a popular book and film genre. Two separate pics based on Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic odyssey are now playing in arthouse and giant-screen theaters.
Little, Brown editor Geoff Shandler outbid several publishers for North American rights to “Skeletons” in the spring. Literary Agency Jody Rein Books brokered the high six figure deal.

King, an expert in naval history, is also writing about the shipwreck and his own recent trek to Africa for National Geographic.

Levinson and Weinstein have a first look deal with Intermedia.

They’re repped by United Talent Agency, as are Miro, Bernard and King. Miro and Bernard are also repped by Circle of Confusion.

Reprinted from
Wed., Dec. 19, 2001

Potential fall ’02 series includes laffer ‘Eight Simple Rules’
By Josef Adalian

Former NBC programming exec Flody Suarez has set up shop at Touchstone Television, inking a two-year overall deal with the studio under his FlodyCo. Banner. Suarez — who as head of TV for helmer Barry Sonnenfeld’s production company developed and produces Fox laffer “The Tick” — will develop and serve as non-writing producer on comedy and drama programming for Touchstone. He also may come on board as producer on skeins already in the works at the studio. Caitlin Mauney will be manager of development for Suarez’s company.

FlodyCo. has lined up a slew of potential series for fall 2002-03, including a laffer from helmer Tom Shadyac (“Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”) dubbed “Eight Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter”. Touchstone prexy Steve McPherson praised Suarez for “his really great taste” and said the deal for FlodyCo., along with similar production pacts, repped “a fruitful way for us to build our business.” “It allows us more tentacles into the industry,” McPherson said. “(Suarez) taps into creative talent that a lot of times goes unnoticed. ‘The Tick’ is a great example of taking an almost unnoticed animated property and turning it into a very funny primetime show.”

Suarez said he wanted to come to Touchstone because of its successful track record, pointing to skeins such as “Scrubs,” “The Amazing Race” and “Alias.” “They’re not cookie-cutter shows at all,” Suarez said. “Touchstone is willing to take chances, and for a producer, that’s the best scenario.” New type of producer Suarez reps a growing breed in the TV biz: the non-writing exec producer. With nets cutting staff and trimming scribes, Suarez says “there’s a greater need” for execs like himself. “In my case, I have both a marketing and a network background, as well as a few years’ experience producing shows,” he said. “So what I bring is experience.”

As for projects in the works at FlodyCo., “Eight Simple Rules” is a half-hour family laffer about a father and his two teen daughters, based on a book by Bruce Cameron. Tracy Gamble (“According to Jim”) will write the pilot, with Shadyac on board as exec producer for his Shady Acres Prods. ABC has made a script commitment to the project; Shadyac may direct the pilot. Deal for Suarez and FlodyCo. was brokered by UTA and Bob Myman.
the following article is reprinted from Denver’s
Rocky Mountain News
Sunday, November 8, 1998


Denver Mom Doubles as Super-Agent for Colorado Authors
by Alan Dumas

There have been numerous stories in trade magazines in recent years about Colorado writers receiving huge book contracts.

Todd Siler of Englewood received a $450,000 advance from Bantam for his book Think Like a Genius, including a guaranteed publicity budget of $200,000.

John Jenson of Broomfield received $250,000 up front from Hyperion for his slim inspirational volume Lost & Found.

Denver’s Gordon Miller earned $225,000 from Doubleday for Quit Your Job Often and Get Big Raises.

Russell Martin of Delores won’t say how much he got in advance for the rights to the unwritten Beethoven’s Hair. He promised Broadway Books he’d keep it a secret, but industry rumors put the figure at around $500,000.

All these authors are clients of Denver agent Jody Rein. She has traded the fast lane of an editing career in New York for life in bucolic Colorado.

Between phone conferences with publishers, she feeds applesauce to her sons Peter, 3, and Jake, 1. They sing songs and tell stories. She calls it juggling books and babies.

“Because I have to juggle my family and my business, I can’t have 5,000 clients,” she explains. “I have a very small, select list of clients, and I have to sell their books for a lot of money in order to stay in business.”


Jody Rein A former executive editor for Dell and Avon, Rein carved out a reputation as someone who knows a hot commercial property. Since becoming an agent, she’s worked to keep that reputation. That means she honestly believes every book she submits to a publisher is a potential hit.”
A book has to appeal to me personally and give me the sense it’s going to appeal to a great number of people,” she says. “I strive for excellence in everything I sell. I have to have that reputation so editors will look at my books quickly and seriously. That way the top people at the publishing company can give them the attention they deserve.”

Rein rejects 99 percent of the material she reviews from prospective clients. But if you’re one of the few she represents, it’s “welcome to the big time.” She promises that if she takes you on, she’ll sell your work.

“I don’t take no for an answer,” she says.

Rein and her husband, Irvin, live in a comfortable, rambling house in suburban Denver filled with her kids’ toys. Theoretically, the playrooms end at the top of the basement stairs. Rein has remodeled her basement into an office suite she shares with her office manager. A nanny stays with the kids upstairs during working hours.

Still, nothing short of shackles can control a 3-year-old, and a visit from Peter to show off his drumming or singing skills isn’t unusual.

“This situation can be great, and it can be hard,” Rein admits. “We’re lucky we can spend as much time with the family as we do, but with kids there’s no perfect answer. While I’m working I’m always still aware of what’s going on with the kids. It’s very stressful to have the two worlds intersect so dramatically, but for me I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Rein is upbeat and appears happy even in crisis. She seems open and warm, which is a little misleading. The publishing world is full of secrets, rumors and gossip; its language is often one of misdirection and obfuscation.

Rein is very circumspect in conversation, considering what she says carefully. In a business where information is power, she’s not likely to give too much away.

Rein got a degree in English literature from the University of Michigan, which qualified her for a waitressing job in Chicago. After a year at that she answered a newspaper ad from Chicago’s Contemporary Books. They wanted an editorial assistant.

“They hired me, and I loved it,” says Rein. “They let me talk to authors, negotiate contracts. I couldn’t believe they let me do that stuff.”

In five years Rein moved from editorial assistant to senior editor. When Contemporary opened a New York office, they made Rein head of acquisitions.

“Then I was wooed away by Dell Books,” she says. “I was promoted to executive editor. I loved being an editor. I’m a collaborator by nature. I love seeing something wrong in writing and fixing it. I’m a fixer. I’m a meddler.”

Rein moved to an executive editor’s position at Avon, doing the whole New York publishing thing: author meetings at lunch, dinner, cocktails; fighting over potential hot properties; looking for unknown writers. Acquiring quality new properties was her specialty.

Rein married around this time, and her husband had a job opportunity in Denver. With mixed feelings, she came to Colorado and started a family.

“But I couldn’t stop thinking about books,” she says. “I love the book business. I know how publishers think, and I eventually realized the only way I could be part of it and stay in Denver was to become an agent.”

“But I really resisted the idea-for years agents had been the enemy. Then a friend asked me to help negotiate a contract with the publisher, and it was fun. I found I really enjoyed being on the other side of the negotiation. Still, I couldn’t come right out and say I was an agent. My first cards said ‘Editorial Consultant and Author Representative.'”

It may have taken Rein a while to admit she was a literary agent, but the publishers knew it right away. Mark Gompertz was her boss at Avon, and now is a vice president at Simon & Schuster. “She’s the same as ever, strong and forthright, but now she’s working the other side, trying to get the best deal for her client,” he says. “It’s good to work with someone from the publishing side. She knows the language, and she pushes without making you so angry you’ll never work with her again. When one of her envelopes comes across my desk, I know it will be a good author with a clever, professional proposal. It’s like having one of my own editors bring me a book, except I know I’ll have to negotiate with her.”

Does it matter that she’s based in Denver and not in Manhattan?

“If that ever mattered, it doesn’t anymore,” says Gompertz. “Having a local agent gives authors the attention and hand-holding they need, and with e-mail and overnight it really doesn’t matter where you are.”

Elisa Petrini is an executive editor at Dutton.

“Jody’s proposals are always viable,” she says. “Lots of times we’ll read a proposal and wonder what book is supposed to be there, but that never happens with Jody. And she talks like a colleague. She’ll say, ‘Come on, you know you can make a lot of money with this.'”

Rein agrees the secret of her success is the quality of her book proposals. She’ll make one of her authors work six months to a year refining ideas and rewriting proposals until everything is perfect.

“I make people crazy, but I’d never let a proposal go out of my office that didn’t have everything a publisher wants to see,” she says. “It takes a long time. In the past five months I’ve only sold three or four books.”

But one of those books was Beethoven’s Hair, and Rein admits the advance money for that was “enormous.” As an agent, she collects 15 percent.

Beethoven’s Hair is a project she developed with Colorado writer Russell Martin. It tells what happens after a lock of hair is removed from the composer’s corpse and travels through Nazi Germany, gets auctioned at Sotheby’s and ends up with a couple rich guys in Arizona. Parallel to that tale will be Beethoven’s own biography.

“It’s about the resilience of the human spirit,” says Rein. “You could see from the proposal what a great book it’s going to be. The level of interest was so high, we had to auction it after it had been on submission for only a week.”

Rein’s authors all concur that she’s a taskmaster, but they all appreciate her thoroughness. Todd Siler had self-published a book called Think Like a Genius that was popular with businessmen. Rein thought the book could find a much wider audience.

“Her editorial eye was critical,” says Siler. “She made me recraft it and think carefully about every component. She has a real insider’s eye about how to position a book. She’s very frank. She pushes with a lot of feedback and it really made me refine my work. When it was finally ready, she sent out 20 proposals to all the main publishing houses. After two hours, there was a bidding war happening, and Jody had instigated it.”

And Siler was nearly a half million dollars richer.

Denver writer Gordon Miller saw an article in the paper about Beethoven’s Hair, and brought his book Quit Your Job Often and Get Big Raisesto Rein.

“It’s not a literary classic, just some good information,” says Miller. “But it’s fun and timely. She sold it to Doubleday for $225,000. I can’t take any credit, it was all her, she’s terrific. When I talked to the people at Doubleday they told me she’s in an elite class of literary agents, and we’re lucky to have her here in Denver.”

Rein’s day begins about 6:45 a.m. She’ll walk the dog, dress the kids and make breakfast. The nanny arrives around 8 a.m., and she’ll get to work. On this morning, she has a quote from Ralph Nader praising one of her authors and sends it off to a publisher. Then she sorts through faxes and clears her e-mail.

There’s a new publisher at Holt who is also an old friend. They have a long conversation. A client working on a celebrity biography (the subject is a secret) calls and says the London Daily Telegraph has dug up lots of the same information he’s discovered.

They decide to do a story for New York magazine to show that Rein’s client had the information first.

At lunch time, the boys decide they are bears today, so Rein becomes a bear, too. The three growl at each other and eat honey. Then they play in the yard until it’s time for Jake’s nap.

Back in the office, there’s another crisis. A company making a product designed to complement a client’s book has gotten cold feet. She has to convince them everything’s going to be great and get them back on board. Another client’s book doesn’t feel quite finished to her, it’s not quite focused, so she brokers a deal between the client and an outside editor to work one more draft.

She sorts through the mail; there are 15 unsolicited submissions from authors to read through. A client calls and says the publisher is late with a check. She calls the publisher and finds they’ve misplaced the contract. Eventually everything gets straightened out.

Then she calls her neighborhood organization to complain about the inadequacies of her local playground.
The family eats together at 6 p.m., then she plays with the kids, cleans the house, does some laundry, gives the kids a bath, puts them to bed and then collapses.

“I’m dead on my feet by 9 o’clock,” she says.

Rein still reads for fun, mainstream literary fiction such as John Irving and Anne Tyler. She’ll do that until she falls asleep.

“Most of my day is spent cleaning up garbage, talking to people, fixing problems, getting people to do what they say they’ll do, which can be a royal pain,” she says. “There are always problems in the business, and I’m often the mediator. It just takes so much time.”

What clients she does represent, Rein finds in several ways. A few come “over the transom,” sending her unsolicited books or book ideas that she likes. Sometimes she’ll have an idea for a book, and recruit an author to write it. The book Technostress, about the psychology of the modern office, came about that way. Early in her career as an agent she realized she was missing human contact.

“I was very lonely,” she says. “All my contact with people seemed to be e-mail and fax. I was in touch with everyone and in touch with no one. I thought about the psychology of the situation and thought it would make a good book.”

She found a pair of psychologists, Larry Rosen and Michelle Weil, that wrote a column on the Internet about this very topic. They got together and developed a proposal. Since Technostress was published, the authors have enjoyed a lot of media attention, appearing on Nightline and Good Morning America. The book is selling nicely.

Sometimes Rein finds a self-published book she believes needs wider circulation, and offers to represent it.

“My biggest lesson was learning to say ‘no’ to people,” says Rein. “This job could take 18 hours a day. I try to work a four-day week. I’ve learned it doesn’t matter if I miss the next best seller. It just matters that the things I do represent work.”

Rein admits she misses the New York literary lunches and the camaraderie of the publishing world, but living in Denver and raising a family more than compensates. And she still travels to New York regularly.

“You have to work with publishers to understand their language,” she explains. “It seems indirect, but it’s very direct and honest in a strange way. ‘I love it, I love it, I just have to take it to my editorial board next week,’ probably means ‘Forget it.’ When someone says, ‘We discussed it at the editorial meeting, and we’re going to show it to the people in marketing, I’ll call back tomorrow’ means ‘Hang on to your socks, you’re going to get a big offer.'”

Not all agents admire Rein’s style and philosophy. Jodi Jill has run Boulder’s Eden Literary Agency for almost nine years.

“Jody Rein does what she does best, but I have a totally different philosophy,” says Jill. “We try to get beginners published as well as experienced authors, and we try to get books published regardless of how much money we make. Advances aren’t the be all and end all. I just sold a children’s book and my agent’s fee was just $150, but I was delighted too, and that’s more important than money. I like to think our main job is to help people. I wish her the best, but no one at this agency uses her philosophy.”

Jeff Herman runs a New York literary agency, and wrote the industry bible The Writer’s Guide to Book Editors, Publishers and Literary Agents.

“Bottom line is this,” he says. “An agent’s job is to serve the client-to get books published. But the motive isn’t altruism. It’s profit. Writers have their own motives, but publishers and agents are in the business to make a profit. The way to judge a good agent is how they perform. If they sell lots of books for a lot of money, it doesn’t matter if they live in New York or Denver or Antarctica.”

Rein says she’s proud of being so selective about what she represents. “I don’t believe in wasting trees,” she says. “I don’t think everything should be published. I believe in excellence.”

Herman says that here Rein might be too idealistic.

“An agent has to know the market, has to know what will sell,” he explains. “I think it’s possible to represent a book with passion and professionalism, and whether or not I like it on a personal level doesn’t enter into it.”

Of course, any talk of quality or excellence is purely subjective, and Rein knows it.

“In all my rejection letters I always tell writers to bear in mind I’m just one person, and strongly encourage them to elicit the opinions of other agents. I’ve been in the business 20 years, and picking a book has become second nature to me. It’s a mixture of intuition and knowing the market. You never know for sure if something will sell, but I’ve learned to trust my instincts.”

Broomfield Writer Merges Lost and Found
by Alan Dumas

John Jenson is an ordinary guy. It’s going to make him a fortune.

“I’ve got nothing, no big qualifications. I was going to subtitle my book Impressions of an Ordinary Guy.”

The book is Jenson’s modest little volume titled Lost and Found. It’s an inspirational book that Hyperion is betting will be the next Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Jenson isn’t being modest. He is ordinary. He lives in Broomfield. He grew up in North Dakota. He studied speech at Mankato State College in Minnesota. He came to Colorado as a software salesman. Lately, he’s been working as a Dale Carnegie trainer in communications.
“I’ve always kept a good journal,” he says. “All the stuff I write comes from everyday experiences.”

His book’s origins go back to a neighbor in North Dakota who lost her daughter in a plane crash.

“Later she told me, ‘We lost our daughter, but we found what a good friend we had in your mother,” says Jenson. “I was amazed she could find anything good in that tragedy.”

That started Jenson thinking. No matter what happens, there is always a silver lining, he mused.

“Sometimes you have to look pretty hard,” he admits. “If you lose your wallet, it just sucks. But I think almost everything happens for a reason.”

Lost and Found has a simple, symmetrical format. Each left hand page has a lost and found message such as: “I Lost my courage to sit by the swimming pool when I wasn’t pleased with my body. I Found myself sitting next to a guy who was missing part of his.”

Each right hand page has a very short meditation such as “We have to stop beating ourselves up for temporary lapses in strength, remembering that failure is a short-lived event and not a person.”

It’s all very nice and comforting, and when Jenson self-published a few hundred copies of the book, he meant it for friends and family back in his hometown.

“It became a best seller in my little home town, and my dad said ‘People seem to really like the book, why don’t you try and sell it?'”

So Jenson sent the book to 17 agents, including Jody Rein. Rein loved it.

There are a lot of inspirational books. It’s a market that’s full but it’s a market that’s still happening,” she says. “I thought the content in this book was very fresh. It’s about combating loss, and it’s uplifting without being maudlin, simple but not simplistic. And different enough to fill a niche.”

Jenson said he hired Rein because she seemed to really love the book and said she could sell it.

And sell it she did. After a short bidding war between publishers, Hyperion offered Jenson $250,000 and a contract for another book, a Christmas version of Lost and Found.

“I take no credit,” says Jenson. “It’s good karma and a good agent.”

Rein takes very little credit beyond saying her “book sense” allows her to spot a potential hit faster than most.

“But there’s a saying,” she says. “And it’s true. The best agent in the world can’t sell a bad book.”


1. To get published, you have to eventually write a book. You can have a great idea, talk about a great idea, even sometimes sell a great idea. But at some point, you have to devote probably a year of your life to solitary, difficult work. Think about it before you take the plunge.

2. No agent or publisher is obligated to read your work just because you’ve written it. Agents and publishers respect writers who have done their homework-who understand how the publishing world works and how to best present their ideas.

3. Finding answers is easier than you think. Research on your competition is as close as a well-stocked bookstore. Books that purport to tell the inside story on publishing really do. Try How to Get Happily Published by Judith Applebaum or The Shortest Distance Between You and a Published Book by Susan Page or any others on writing book proposals.

4. If you want to be taken seriously by a major house, you should have a literary agent.

5. One great way to find an agent who represents books like yours is by reading the acknowledgements section of a book like yours. Good agents often get thanked.

6. Whom you know is important. But know is a relative word. Any agent will move a query to the top of the pile if it mentions a mutual acquaintance. You don’t have to be bosom buddies with the person who refers you, just get his OK.

7. Most agents prefer one-page query letters for both fiction and nonfiction, while publishers want proposals for nonfiction and full manuscripts for fiction.

8. Publishers and agents are eager to accept you, not reject you. They get paid for publishing books, not rejecting them.

9. When you receive your $1 million advance, you should sock away a chunk for an independent publicist. Publishers do their best, but no one loves your book like you.

10. The book is often the end, not the beginning. When you sit down to write your query letter ask yourself: Am I ready to write this book? For fiction: Have I published my short stories in literary magazines? Do I have the appropriate training to write a novel? For nonfiction: Have I truly established my expertise in the field?

Bonus: Check out the agents you’re considering. Are they members of the Association of Authors Representatives? Not all good agents are, but all agents in the association agree to abide by a canon of ethics.


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