A true bastion of the book-agenting business, Sterling Lord, is the founder of Sterling Lord Literistics. His agency is always among the leaders each year in titles placed, with well over one hundred. And anyone checking out the Sterling Lord Literistics Web site will find a dozen or so agents with awe-inspiring credentials.
As of 2016, Sterling Lord, who is in his 90s, remains active in the business. At it for 60-plus years, he started his agency after being fired as an editor at Cosmopolitan. One of Mr. Lord’s early clients include Jack Kerouac, and he later became professionally involved with a number of “Beat Generation” writers.
I mention Jack Kerouac because anyone taking a contemporary lit course in college will come across ON THE ROAD. Like it or hate, the book’s a staple and has sold millions. But here’s the reason for my going through all this: It required four years before Mr. Lord found a publisher (Viking) for Jack Kerouac’s book. Four years! At a time when there weren’t a zillion books or a plethora of agents. I bring up this for obvious reasons, as I want to continue to stress not turning the agent search into a speed contest.
I’ve said time and again. Before a major imprint publishes a debut writer, he or she has written six books and twelve years have passed. I personally know several authors who fit this timetable perfectly. This is why no one should quit a day job to write unless that person is of independent means. This chronology also indicates how very special it is to become published by a legitimate royalty publisher. And why we should all be proud of any of our colleagues who have made this grade. The club is a special one that requires a lot of time, immense skill, and incredible patience.