Friday, May 9, 2008

Interview with Paige Wheeler

I’d like to welcome our guest agent today, Paige Wheeler. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

Can you please give us a little information about your publishing background? How many clients do you have? How many agents? And how many of those agents represent romance? What other genres do you represent?

I started working in publishing in London for a financial publishing company called Euromoney. I then moved on to NYC to work in the editorial department for Harlequin/Silhouette. After a number of years there I decided that I really wanted to represent the authors rather than the publisher, so I joined an agency called Artists Agency. In 1997 I decided to hang out my own shingle and I started Creative Media Agency. After 10 years of running CMA, I was approached by two people and asked to start a new company. We started FOLIO in 2006 and have been doing tremendously well ever since. We have 7 agents (including a foreign rights agent) as well as a marketing director and a speakers bureau agent. Only two of us represent a sizeable chunk of romance but almost all of us have worked on a women’s fiction or romance project at one time. Although I represent a lot of romance and women’s fiction, I also represent mysteries and thrillers as well as literary fiction and all types of nonfiction.

What fees (if any) does your agency charge? What is your agency’s commission rate?

We charge the standard 15% commission for domestic and 20% for foreign and film.

What’s your response time for queries, partials and full manuscripts?

Well, I’m just coming back from maternity leave, so I’m a little behind. (congratulations! KW) Normally, I’ll respond to queries within two weeks, 4 weeks for partials and 6 weeks for manuscripts.

What new author have you recently signed?

I recently signed this fabulous writer who has written a beautiful work of narrative nonfiction. I’m super excited about his writing.

What new project made you grab for that hidden piece of chocolate in your pencil drawer?

How do you know about that piece of chocolate! (I'll never tell. KW)

Oh well. Aside from the nonfiction project I just mentioned, I haven’t really been wowed lately—but then again, I’ve been on maternity leave. I’m looking to get wowed now!

What can an author do to grab your attention?

First and foremost, write well. Ideally, this should be coupled with a fresh, terrific idea. I can always help with the idea, but the voice and writing style is really up to the author.

What houses have you recently sold to?

I have sold to most of the major houses. Some recent sales have been to HarperCollins, St. Martin’s, Penguin, and Simon and Schuster.

What do you love/hate most about being an agent?

I love working with authors to build their career and I love selling books. The paperwork can be overwhelming at times.

What trends do you see for the future of publishing?

I’m a bit worried about mass market books at the moment, but I’m hoping that will change. Historical romances are supposedly making a comeback, which is good. E-readers are getting better. Independent bookstores will continue to decline, unfortunately. Those are just some random trends that I see.

Any other chocolate nuggets you can give authors looking for representation?

Keep working at your craft. Do your research and look for an agent whose interests and skill set will help you. Realize that most writers take years to become established and that the ones that are hugely successful are few and far between. Be prepared for rejection but be resilient enough to bounce back. Network at conferences and with fellow writers. Those are my nuggets!

Thanks, Paige!

Check out the agent’s website at


Sandy said...

Lovely interview with Paige Wheeler.

Gerri Bowen said...

Good interview. Congratulations on the baby, Paige!

Sara Daniel said...

Paige, thanks for the great interview. Everyone compliments me on my great writing, but they have issues with the story idea, characters or plot. The section on what grabs your attention as an agent gives me hope and encouragement. Thanks!

Congratulations on the new baby. As President of Chicago-North RWA, thank you for sending Erin Niumata in your place at the Spring Fling Conference two weeks ago. She represented you and FOLIO well.

Sara Daniel