I hope you’ve all been learning some new information about the highly-sought-after agent, Chip MacGregor. I know I have! Today, we’ll go a bit deeper, and then he’ll tell us what we can look forward to at the fast-approaching Write to Inspire conference. Make sure you’re registered today! You won’t want to miss it!
LN: Your personal bio states, “Chip’s greatest desire is to help authors create great books that make a difference in the world.” What are some of your favorite make-a-difference books that you helped to create?
CM: It’s a long list. I was Brennan Manning’s agent for several years, and I’ve always been proud of helping him with his books. I helped concept Lisa Beamer’s book, and represented that one when it rose to #1 on the NYT list. There have been several novelists who have really made a difference: Lisa Samson, Gina Holmes, Susan Meissner, Elizabeth Musser, Ann Tatlock, Mindy Clark, Leslie Gould – that’s just a sampling. On the nonfiction side, I represented all of Michelle McKinney Hammond’s books, did a bunch with Jill and Stuart Briscoe, a long list of MOPS books, great books with people like Keri Wyatt Kent and Don McCullough. I also helped several excellent writers get started – Holley Gerth, Ira Wagler, Mike Hingson, Susy Flory, Jenny B. Jones, Mary DeMuth, etc. I’m proud of the authors I’ve worked with.
LN: Some marriage counselors claim to have the ability to predict whether a marriage will last or end in divorce. Are great agents the same with writers? Are you able to predict whether a newbie-writer will be a success? If so, what do you see in them to make you think they’ll make it?
CM: Love this question. You see, I’m paid to SELL a writer’s work. In fact, that’s the only way I get paid. So if I don’t think I can sell a project, I won’t take it on for representation, no matter how much I like the author. So yes, I tend to look for people I like and believe in, and who I think I can sell. I often will predict success based on the bigness of the story, the quality of the writing, the need in the marketplace, and the author’s ability to support the work. Do I make mistakes? Sure I do. But I also get a lot of them right. And over the last 25 years I’ve been right a lot more frequently than I’ve been wrong, which is why I’m successful at this business. I think most of the longtime successful agents have an ability to recognize great talent. I probably have a limited set of talents, but “recognizing a good author” is one of the things I do well.
LN: In your opinion, what quality is most important for writers to possess? What quality is most important for your clients to possess?
CM: This one is easy. The one quality most important for writers to possess is VOICE. A writer with strong voice, who sounds unique and not like everyone else, will stand out in a crowd. I’m a sucker for great voice. And I feel it’s voice that will help an author break out in a competitive publishing market. When I see strong voice (which is simply “personality on the page”), I tend to be interested in the author, even if it’s in a genre I don’t normally represent. Because great voice tends to get published. It’s a rare quality, and it takes time to develop, but no question – voice in your writing is the one quality that impresses me most.
LN: What can our writers expect to learn from you at the Write to Inspire conference this July?
CM: Everything you need to know about creating a great book proposal. The ten keys to refining your proposal. How to pitch and submit your proposal. And we’ll have a chance to talk trends, careers, the craziness of the industry, etc. I’m really looking forward to being there and spending time with the group.