Wednesday, April 18, 2007
FEATURED AGENT INTERVIEW: Lisa Bankoff - Agent, International Creative Management (ICM)
Lisa Bankoff has been with ICM for more than twenty five years. Her background in publicity, marketing, promotion and editorial gives her a unique insight, and a solid foundation for the agency business. Actually her first dream was to be a journalist. Instead she chose a career path that would bring her closer to her love of writing working in both with fiction and nonfiction.
Ms. Bankoff worked with the late Jed Mattes. He was a highly regarded literary agent, who is remembered for nurturing the careers of well-known gay writers such as Armistead Maupin, Michelangelo Signorile, and Urvashi Vaid. Mr. Mattes also represented the best-selling author Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel), and playwright Michael Frayn.
Many of Lisa Bankoff’s clients have written best-selling books. Of those many are clients she nurtured from day one of their writing careers. Loyalty and commitment along with her passion for the business are the keys to her success as an agent. Her client list reads something like a who’s who: Elizabeth Berg, Doug Brinkley, Claire Cook, John Colapinto, Chris Hedges, Laura Kasischke, J. Robert Lennon, David Lipsky, Ann Patchett, Mike Perry, Anne Roiphe, and Anne Ursu.
E. I. Ms. Bankoff, thank you for stopping by. Would you please explain what combination of literary factors make an author successful in terms of book sales? Is it setting, dramatic premise, or great wordsmithing?
Lisa Bankoff: Brilliant writing. Compelling characters. A unique dramatic premise. A perceptive, gung-ho editor. Marketing muscle. Enthusiastic blurbs. Irresistible book jacket. A media-savvy author. Plentiful review attention. Much hard work and collective effort has gone into the details attending publication. Why isn't the book selling? Luck is a four letter word. There's good luck, the sort that takes your breath away, rare and thrilling; the phone call (Oprah!); or the award (Barnes & Noble Discover winner!); or the film deal (Uma!). I've experienced all of those and then there's the other side of luck, the bad-timing, can't catch-a-break, is-anyone-out-there, does-anyone-still-even-read-variety. It's important to bear in mind that the publishing gods can be fickle and then just ignore them, do your very best and don't stop.