Season 1 Episode 4: Literary Agent Cynthia Zigmund on What Publishing Success Takes

Derek: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to another episode of Behind the Business Book. I’m your host Derek Lewis, and today, I have with me, Cynthia Zigmund. She’s the founding president of Second City Publishing, a literary agency and publishing consultancy representing business authors among a lot of other genres. In her capacity as representing business authors is what she is doing with us on the show today. Before launching that agency, she held positions with some of the biggest names in business publishing including John Wiley & Sons and another publisher that was eventually acquired by McGraw-Hill. Formerly in Manhattan and Chicago, she now lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Cindy, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me today.

Cynthia: Thanks for having me, Derek. I’m happy to be here and excited to talk with you.

Derek: Would you mind just giving us a little bit of a sketch of your history. It’s not every literary agent that wants to represent business books much less that has a background in publishing, editing, and representing them. Would you give us the short version of how you came to work with business books?

Cynthia: I’d be happy to. I actually started off in publishing. I started my career with John Wiley & Sons, and I actually started there because I walked through the door needing a job. I had just relocated from Boston to the New York area. That actually started my love affair with business books, because Wiley, as you know, is a huge business book publisher. I started working on those books and then jumped over to another publisher called Van Nostrand Reinhold which was launching a business line, so I helped them do that. Then eventually ended up at Owen Professional Publishing which is a company that was acquired by McGraw-Hill where I focused exclusively on business books. It’s just something I acquired along the way and really fell in love with it. If you talk to anybody in publishing, they’ll tell you that as long as they’re working on books, it really doesn’t matter what the topic is.

I do a number of genres, but business books tends to be where my heart lies because of my background. I also happen to have a business degree. That’s just coincidental. That wasn’t deliberate at all. Then I finally ended up at Dearborn Publishing, best known as being one of the countries top real estate publishers running their business in print which was then acquired by Kaplan Publishing. At that point, I was in the publishing business for probably close to 15, 20 years, and I had the opportunity to do something different. I loved working on books. I loved acquiring, but I also wanted to try something different, became an agent, and here I am.

Derek: What’s changed during all those years from the time whenever you first walked through the doors for John Wiley to today whenever you’re an agent? Specifically for business books, how is the-

Cynthia: Obviously technology has played a huge role in that. When I started, there was no Amazon. It didn’t exist. Borders and Barnes & Noble were basically your Amazon of that time. Audio books were not as popular as they are today even in business publishing. Authors didn’t necessarily need to have the platform that publishers require today. Publishing has become … It always was a complex business, but it’s become even more complex with all the mergers, acquisitions, the ability to get books out more quickly, and also with social media.

There’s just a lot more information out there, so when publishers look at a book today, it needs to be something that people are going to be interested in 12 months from now or will they have read all about it already on the Internet or on Facebook or wherever it is they’re getting their information. From that perspective, it’s changed. Again, the technology and the fact that authors really need, especially with business books [inaudible 00:05:31 – 00:05:31]. A strong platform. They need to have a place from which to launch their message and something that the publisher can tap into. Whether that’s what we’re doing now, an online blog or whether it’s a robust speaking schedule, whether it’s a strong Facebook following, a strong consultancy, something where they’re going to come to the publisher with an audience all set to go.

Derek: That’s a pretty tall challenge, because there are going to be plenty of authors who have … They may be even successful professionally, but if they don’t already have that platform established and ready to go, then the chances of actually landing a traditional publisher are going to be much slimmer.

Cynthia: It’s slim to none frankly, because again, because there’s so much being published now, self-publishing has moved from being looked at as you can’t get published anywhere else so you’re going to publish on your own to people taking it really seriously and doing a really nice job. There’s all of these self-published books out there plus all of the commercial books out there. There are lots of different size publishers, several of which focus on business books, many of which don’t. There’s just a lot out there, and it’s important for an author to be able to differentiate himself. It’s just not good enough anymore to have the best book written on sales or leadership or innovation. It needs to be the best book, and the author has to have a way to help the publisher get the word out there. Again, whether that’s a really strong network of followers or whether it’s someone who has a lot of corporate clients that they can approach to help or whether they’re a professional speaker, whatever it is, it needs to be more than just having a really good idea and having those credentials.

Derek: Cindy, let’s jump back actually to introducing you as a literary agent. You talking about you launching your own agency. I still talk to authors and plenty of people who aspire to be authors who don’t really understand what a literary agent is or completely unaware of what literary agents are. If you had to explain yourself to a group of people who wanted to be published but had no idea what an agent was, how would you explain what you do?

Cynthia: An agent is the publisher’s advocate. Just like you wouldn’t enter any other agreement without some kind of advocate whether it’s an attorney, a real estate agent, whoever it is, you want somebody that knows the ins and outs of that business and can help you navigate it. An agent works with an author before the book is presented to a publisher. When you’re working on a proposal, the agent has the experience to tell you, “You know what? If you do this, this, and this publishers are going to be interested. If you don’t, then they’re not.” An agent will also be candid with you and let you know whether or not your idea, while it might be a great idea, isn’t going to be commercially viable, because it’s too narrow in focus.

An agent will help you get your proposal and your project in front of a publisher. Frankly, some publishers don’t except unsolicited projects. They require that they go through an agent, because they know an agent will have vetted the project, will have gone through the proposal, will make sure there’s a sample chapter that’s been well-written and edited, will do all of those things, so they don’t have to sit there and weed through all that. Once a publisher expresses interest, your agent will be able to negotiate a deal for you, including contract terms, royalties, advances, due date, whether or not you should give a publisher the option for your next work.

There are lots of things that most authors … You wouldn’t expect an author to know these things that agent knows, because an agent’s been inside the business. I am somewhat unique in that I have been in publishing. I ran a publishing division, so I have a thorough understanding of what publishers can and can’t do and what they are and are willing to do. I’m very helpful with authors that way. If an author is being unrealistic, I can tell them that. If a publisher is being unrealistic, I can tell my client that. Once a contract is signed, then [inaudible 00:12:11 – 00:12:11] ways, but an agent … If you’re working with your publisher and you don’t like the cover, if you don’t have an agent, there’s really nothing you can do.

If you have an agent, that agent can advocate for you, can talk to the publisher, and help them understand why you don’t like yellow on your cover or why that title just doesn’t work. Where they’re for our authors for the life of the book and when we get those royalty statements that come through, we scrutinize them. If there’s an issue, we’ll go to bat for you and find out what the problem is. We’re there for you. While your acquisition’s editor for sure is your in-house advocate, your editor still works for your publisher. Your agent works for you, and that’s a really important thing too to matter, to keep in mind. That’s an important thing that matters to you as an author.

Derek: Whenever you were describing agents as advocates, I was thinking of the lawyer. Mostpeople wouldn’t dream of trying to go to court and represent themselves, even though they have the legal right to do so, because they don’t know the ins and outs, the legalities. It’s almost crazy to try to go represent yourself, but a literary agent is actually one step further, because there are plenty of publishers, especially the major houses that won’t even allow you to represent yourself. Like you said, they say either no direct submissions or no unsolicited manuscripts. Meaning that it can only come through an agent, so those authors who don’t want to work with a literary agent or don’t take the steps to be represented by them, they can’t even get their manuscript, their proposal, to an acquisition editor’s desk.

Cynthia: That’s correct. That’s correct. That’s primarily because frankly, editor’s have huge workloads. They get a dozen or more proposals a day. With very few exceptions, they just don’t have time to sit there and try to figure out, “Well, if there’s some work done to this, does it have potential?” They want to be sure that again, what they’re getting is vetted. I’ve had clients come to me who have spoken with editors at houses. They’ve managed to get that far, but the editor said to them, “Look, I like what you’re doing, but you need to go through an agent, because that agent’s going to help you navigate this process.”

Again, because agents know what can and cannot be negotiated, that’s who publishers want to work with. They don’t really want a negotiate with an author who just doesn’t really understand that part of the business. Now I would be lying of course if I said that every publisher out there requires agents. They don’t, but every publisher out there will work with agents. Even if you were to be lucky enough to find a publisher on your own, it may still be worth your while to bring on an agent as a partner to protect your interests. I can’t tell you how many authors I’ve spoken with who agree to things that they just never should have agreed to, because they didn’t know.

Derek: Can you name something off the top of your head, something that comes to mind?

Cynthia: One would be the option and another would be the certain royalty terms. Although this is becoming less and less an issue, is copyright. Some authors will sign away copyright.

Derek: What is the option you were talking about?

Cynthia: The option is most publishers will want an author to agree to give them first right of refusal on their next work, and that’s particularly true of first-time authors, because a publisher as is an agent, they’re putting a lot into developing an author. They want to be sure that they get the right to see the next work before it is shown to anyone else. That, in and of itself, is not generally a problem. It’s some of the specific terms that are a problem. For example, some options will specify that you will agree to exactly the same terms or you will agree to give them six months to review a proposal which is crazy. An option or a first right of refusal, again, it’s not in and of itself a bad thing, but the exact terms can be really detrimental.

Derek: The second thing you said there was about royalties. Let’s talk about what authors should and shouldn’t expect or agree to when it comes to royalties. Then would you mind explaining how literary agents get paid which is …

Cynthia: Sure, sure. In terms of royalties, royalties are … Every publisher is different, so I can’t sit here and say, “You’re going to get X percent,” because again, every publisher is different. Most publishers do offer a royalty. A royalty can be anywhere depending on where the book is sold, anywhere from a few percent up to 25 or perhaps even 50%. Again, that frankly depends on the project, on the author, and where the book is being sold. If a book is being sold as a e-book, the royalty rates can be a little higher. If a book is being sold as a paper copy, they’re generally lower. The thing to keep in mind is that you’re getting a royalty in exchange for allowing the publisher to use and exploit your content.

They’re going to be doing things that you don’t have to do as a self-published author. They’re going to make sure that your book is developed by an editor, that it’s professionally copy-edited, it’s typeset, it’s proofread, that it’s available in many different electronic formats, that, in some cases, published as a hard cover and then followed up with a paperback. They’ll also, again depending on your arrangement with your agent, they’ll shop around international rights, so there are lots of things going on behind the scenes that authors don’t always realize. They’ll see a royalty amount. Let’s just say 15% and say, “Well, that’s crazy. I’m writing this book, and I’m only getting 15%.” Well, you’re getting that because the publisher’s doing all these other things.

They’re distributing your book literally around the world. They’re going to help you promote it and work with you to get the word out. In terms of how agents get compensated, we’re paid on commission. We’re paid based on what you get. We get a percentage of your royalties. If you’re getting a 15% royalty, your agent may be getting 15 or 20% of that royalty amount. Your agent does not get paid until the book is placed. Then once the book is placed, they get a percentage of whatever percentage of your advance. If the commission is 15%, they’re going to get 15% of your advance. When your advance earns out, they’re going to get 15% of whatever royalties you’re getting. Most agencies and our agency certainly does this, we have the royalties sent to the agency. We review the statements, and then we then pay our authors the balance after takingout our commission, and that’s standard in the industry. There are some agents out there that do it differently, and both are acceptable means of getting paid.

Derek: I’d say probably the best analogy I’ve ever heard about publishers, authors, and books likens it to venture capital. The venture capitalist would be the publisher. The entrepreneur seeking funding would be analogous to the author. Then the product that they’re looking to sell would be the book in this analogy. The publisher, the venture capitalist, puts out a lot of money, a lot of their money, and takes a lot of risk on a relatively unknown entrepreneur who is developing a product that may or may not be completely finished yet. It’s risk versus reward. Since the venture capitalist is putting in a lot of risk and a lot of money upfront, they get a lot of equity in the company. The entrepreneur is putting in his time, but that’s time that he was going to put in anyway.

It makes since whenever you come at it from a risk versus reward that a publisher who is putting in all of this money upfront on a product that may or may not sell, and quite frankly, a lot of books don’t. I forget what the numbers are, but there’s a certain number of books. I don’t know, 20, 30-something percent and feel free to absolutely correct my numbers, Cindy, that totally flop. There’s another 30 or 40% that are mid-listers. They pay the bills, and they keep the lights on. Then there’s a few at the peak of the pyramid that are the bestsellers, the blockbusters, that really make the money. From the publisher’s point of view, they’re investing in a lot of different projects, books, hoping that a few will be the ones that actually pay off. Some will be the mid-listers, and they’ve also got to recoup enough money so that the ones that totally flop don’t bankrupt the company.

Cynthia: That’s absolutely correct. You’re spot-on, and what an author brings to the table depends on how much risk a publisher is willing to take. If you come to a publisher with a really strong platform, you’ve got 500,000 Twitter followers that are avid about listening to what you have to say, you’re going to get a better offer, a better package, a bigger advance from that publisher, because you’re actually helping them reduce the risk. I will tell you, and sometimes authors don’t really understand how much a publisher is investing in a book. Every book that comes out is probably a mid-list book is 50 to $100,000 investment by a publisher. If you’re not earning money, if you’re not making money on your book, your publisher isn’t either.

They’re really looking for those books that are going to break out, and they also like those books that maybe they’re not going to be breakout books, but you know what? They’re going to be here for 10, 20, 30 years. You know those What Color is Your Parachute? types of books. Those evergreen books that just sell and sell and sell. Every time a publisher signs a contract, they’re going into it with the expectation that they’re going to get two or three more books out of you. Publishers really don’t want to work, and neither do agents by the way, want to work with authors who only have one book in them, and they haven’t really given that some thought. When you’re thinking about your project, think about books two and three.

Derek: That’s really good advice. I hadn’t actually come across that before. I didn’t realize that there was really that expectation there. Does it make sense in a proposal to talk about additional content or talk about vetting the next book and even a third book, vetting it up with first. Is that [crosstalk 00:27:17]?

Cynthia: It’s always a good idea as long as they’re connected, and you don’t need to go into a lot of detail. With fiction, it’s essential. I realize we’re not talking about fiction here. With fiction it’s essential, with non-fiction it’s really helpful. Again, with business books, publishers … How many business authors do you know that have three, four, a dozen books? I mean that’s what publishers want. They want to be able to go back to somebody they know that has a track record even if that track record is mid-list. As long as it’s steady and it’s mid-list, that’s okay.

Derek: You were talking about business authors having two or three books. It reminds me of a quote that applies to what you were talking about earlier that a publisher not wanting to work, some unwilling to work directly with an author or some preferring to work with an agent instead of an author. It reminds me of Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Workweek. He was talking about whenever you’re an entrepreneur and you have a client, a client comes onboard, that you have to vet them and see how experienced they are, how mature they are in their professional development, because you don’t want to waste time being a business school for somebody else.

You don’t want to take all this time helping somebody understand this is what’s normal, this is what you do, this is what’s standard, whenever you could be taking that same time and making sales with other clients who know the ins and outs and what they should do. It sounds like that’s the approach that a lot of publishers have. They don’t want to have to take the time to educate or don’t even have the time to educate an author, to argue back and forth, “This is standard,” “This is conventional,” “This is expected,” “This is unrealistic.”

Cynthia: That’s correct. They really want the agent to do that heavy lifting for them. That’s part of what being an agent is about. All agents, it certainly happens to me, we turn down a lot of people, because they aren’t willing to make the investment or they have unreasonable expectations or they’re not willing to listen. Hint. Publishers rely on agents to again, act as that filter.

Derek: Cindy, walk us through your typical day. Getting all these proposals, them landing on your desk, you’re sorting through, figure out which ones go in the slush pile, which ones may actually make it, just that whole process. Walk us through the day of a literary agent.

Cynthia: I don’t know if we have a typical day, but we spend …

Derek: That’s right. Does anybody have a typical day?

Cynthia: Yeah, exactly, exactly. I’ll spend my day reviewing proposals that come in, chasing proposals that I’ve been after from some of my authors. I will be following up with projects that publishers have and having discussions with them, setting up calls or meetings with publishers who want to speak with an author. A lot of publishers like to have a conversation with an author before they even take the project to their publishing committee.

Some publishers don’t have that process, and I’ll also spend some time usually, frankly, in the evenings, reviewing manuscripts. It’s a mixed bag. Some days I’ll spend almost the entire day going through proposals. Another day I might spend time helping a couple of authors fine-tune proposals. I may have some author meetings set up or some publishing meetings set up. You always have something new going on. You always have something either new coming in, something in development, or something about to get published.

Derek: It’s almost like living at the edge of your seat, huh?

Cynthia: It is, but it’s not static at all which is a lot of fun.

Derek: Yeah, you’ve always got something happening, always something different coming up. If you could speak, maybe not just from your experience, but from your peers’ experience, and then especially from your experience on the publishing side of things. Whenever a query letter and/or a proposal comes in, what are the things that automatically disqualify it, that you automatically throw it aside and say, “Okay, please return to sender.” What are the things that pique your interest that make you say, “Okay, maybe this is something I’ll spend a little more time on. Maybe this is something I’ll pursue”?

Cynthia: If it’s a query that obviously isn’t in my area of interest, it goes into the slush pile. A lot of authors don’t do their homework.

Derek: Yeah, I hear that’s a really common problem that literary agents and publishers have is that they’ll specialize in say, in your case, business and mystery, among a couple of the other ones. Somebody might send you something on westerns or I don’t know, Russian literature, or something that is no where near what you do. That happens …

Cynthia: Exactly. That’s a real pet peeve of almost every agent I know. Do your homework. It’s clear that it’s just a blanket submission. Pay attention to the agency’s proposal guidelines. Almost every agency posts some kind of guidelines on their website, and make sure that while you may not have to follow the guidelines verbatim, make sure that the requirements are there in some form. For me, as an editor, I used to spend literally 30 seconds reviewing a proposal. If an author didn’t get my attention within 30 seconds, the proposal went into my slush pile and that hasn’t changed as an agent. The first thing that I look for is something that is really unique and interesting.

Derek: [crosstalk 00:35:05] first [inaudible 00:35:06].

Cynthia: Yeah, first impressions for sure and something that is commercially viable. Again, somebody may have a really interesting, unique idea, but the market is so narrow, no publisher is going to touch it, because they just couldn’t … They’d lose money. In that case, that author may be better off self-publishing. Once the proposal catches my attention, then I go to that author’s marketing plan which is the platform. If there’s not a strong marketing plan and I don’t see what I want to see there, occasionally I may go back to the author and say, “Look. Come back to me when you have stronger marketing plan,” but generally it just goes into the slush pile. It’s really important … Authors need to think of their proposal as their business plan for the book.

It’s not a proposal, it’s not written for your book’s audience, your proposal is written for the publisher, so you need to look at it from your publisher’s perspective. They’re going to want a unique idea, well-written, well-organized, table of contents, summary, chapter summaries, and a really strong marketing plan. If you don’t have a strong marketing plan, maybe you need to wait to write your book until you do. Telling a publisher that you’ll do whatever they want is not a strong marketing plan.

Derek: That’s like applying for a job and in your resume saying, “I don’t know much, but I’m willing to learn anything.”

Cynthia: Exactly, exactly.

Derek: It’s not want you want to see. Yeah, there’s something that you said in there that I really tried to push on or at least remind business authors of is just because a literary agent doesn’t pick up your manuscript or a publisher, doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t make a good book, it just means that it’s not a good fit for them or it may not be a good time in the market. It’s not a judgement per se, of whether or not they’re a good writer, whether or not the book has merit. It’s really a business decision.

Cynthia: It is a business decision. You’d be better off as an author having an agent tell you, “You know what? It’s just not for me,” for whatever reason, than for that agent to take on the project, make a halfhearted effort, and you’re back to square one. I always tell authors, “Just because I’m turning you down doesn’t mean your project shouldn’t be published, it just means we’re the wrong agency of you.” Perhaps the topic is too narrow in focus. At that point, some authors will choose then to self-publish which is fine as long as they’re willing to invest in their project. They can’t just publish the book and expect it to sell. They need to [crosstalk 00:38:55].

Derek: That’s what I did with my book, The Business Book Bible. I didn’t even approach a literary agent or a publisher, because business authors who want to write their own book, it’s such a narrow market that I really didn’t think it had commercial viability. I can’t see selling 40 or 50,000 copies of my book or at least not in a year or two. I went the self-publishing route, and it’s been great for me. Had the opportunity to put my thoughts out to potential prospects and clients, and the clients that I have gotten have more than paid for the time, effort, and the money that I’ve put into designing the book.

I would love to go the traditional publishing route, but like you say, sometimes it’s just not the right approach for the author, the book, the market. I’m grateful that we live in a day and age where we have that option. For those who have commercial merit, they can go to a traditional publisher and have that publisher behind them and have the resources, the distribution, the people that comes with going with a traditional publisher. On the other hand, we can still make decent books and publish them as independent authors.

Cynthia: Exactly. Today, self-publishing doesn’t have the stigma that it had even 10 or 15 years ago, because it can be done very professionally, can look really good. In some cases, frankly better than commercial houses, so it’s definitely an option. I actually have clients who do both. They have published commercially, they have niche books that they publish on their own, and it works out well. It just really depends. Whether you publish commercially or on your own, if you do get clients or see an increase in your business as a result, that’s great. That’s what you should be looking for.

Derek: I did have absolutely experienced with what you’re talking about needing to have a good platform. I concentrated all my time on writing the book and working with the designer to get it out. Then whenever I released it, I realized I haven’t done anything to get people prepped to actually buy the thing. I’ve gone at it backwards. If I had it to do over again, I would absolutely work on creating the platform first, so that whenever the book came out, I actually had some people ready and willing to buy it instead of having it out [crosstalk 00:42:21].

Cynthia: It’s so essential now. It’s so essential. It used to be where publishers, when it was a very different industry, some publishers would be willing to take a chance and work with you as you built your platform. They can’t afford to do that anymore. It’s just not practical. It’s really a good thing. If you do a good job with your self-published book, you may indeed end up getting picked up commercially. You may be in that enviable position to say, “You know what? I want to continue to do it on my own,” or “That’s great. I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m happy to have you take it over,” or “They may pick up your next book.”

Derek: You bring up a great point. Because I’ve heard it from both sides that there are publishers who absolutely … Well, not absolutely. I guess there are no absolutes, but they seriously frown on an author trying to pitch a book that has been self-published. They want to work with something that hasn’t been out in any version or addition before. Then, on the other hand, I read about some of the successes that you’re talking about where they self-published, the books spread like wildfire, and a publisher came in, scooped it up, printed it through the normal distribution channels, and it was even more of a success.

Cynthia: You hit the nail on the head. If the self-published book was wildly successful, then the publisher’s going to want to pick it up, because they know there’s something there. If an author goes to a publisher or frankly comes to me, and they’ve self-published their book and realize, “You know what? This is a lot more work than I thought. I want a publisher to do this.” You know what? It’s too late. The train’s already left the station. Unless you have a really good track record with that book, no one’s going to touch it, because it’s used at that point. There’s no compelling reason for a publisher to take on that book. If the book has been wildly successful and done really well, then there is a compelling reason.

Derek: That makes sense.

Cynthia: Yeah, I think one of the things authors need to remember is that publishing is a business. At the end of the day, publishers are here to make money. If they think they can make money on your book, they’re going to offer you an agreement. If they don’t think they can for whatever reason, then they’re not going to. I can tell you as being on that side of the business … I mean we’ve all been there. I’ve turned down projects that went on to do really well by another publisher and vice-versa. We’ve all had those experiences.

Derek: Cindy, let’s shift gears and actually start winding down, because I know you’ve got a huge pile of proposals and manuscripts to get back to.

Cynthia: Yes, I do.

Derek: Let me ask you, what’s a good book that you would recommend to business authors? Either a business book or a book on publishing and proposals, something to help them in their journey to become [crosstalk 00:46:21].

Cynthia: Your book, of course, is excellent, so they should-

Derek: Thank you very much.

Cynthia: I’d pick up a copy of that. I encourage authors to read not so much so they are going to be like someone else, but so they can see what else is out there. I really like books that approach business problems from a different perspective, so if you look at Malcolm Gladwell or the Freakonomics authors. Those were business books, but they weren’t, because they were unique, they had a really different spin, and they were really interesting. I would encourage people to read books like that to get inspired but not to try to be like that author. Publishers and agents, while we all want to have a section in the proposal that talks about similar books, it’s only so that we can envision where the book fits into the literature. It’s not because we want you to say, “This is going to be the next [inaudible 00:47:46] or whatever it is.” Those books are anomalies.

Derek: Yeah, there’s only so many next seven habits of highly effective [crosstalk 00:48:02]-

Cynthia: Exactly.

Derek: That’s great, in search of excellence. Okay, so what is a book, in any genre, that you think everyone should read?

Cynthia: I go back to Malcolm Gladwell, and I really, really enjoyed Blink. The reason I enjoyed it is you were really drawn in or at least I was. It was a really unique perspective. Whether or not you agreed with his conclusions, doesn’t really matter, but the perspective was there. He had a way of drawing you in without you even realizing it.

Derek: Yeah, he’s a masterful writer. Blink, for me, Cindy, it made me trust myself more. It made me trust my instincts, my subconscious. It made me trust myself more. Say in any business book, there should be value. There should be information. There should be something that you can take away and use, but Blink was for me, almost … I don’t know. There’s not a whole lot of business books that I can say helped me enjoy myself more, trust myself more, and Blink was [crosstalk 00:49:42].

Cynthia: That’s the thing. When a book, whether it’s a business book or any other book, impacts you at a personal level, you know that it’s a really great book.

Derek: Yeah, it did. He did an awesome job. Malcolm Gladwell, ladies and gentlemen. Cindy, first of all, what’s a great way for anybody who’s listening, if they want to get in touch with you to do so? Two, in addition to business or even if you want to get specific, but what all areas do you represent just in case there’s an author out there who in addition to being a business writer, is also a mystery writer?

Cynthia: Anyone who’s interested should visit our website which is, and they can contact me via my email which is Cynthia, C-Y-N-T-H-I-A at Our website lists everything we’re interested in which is most forms of non-fiction and in fiction, it’s really mystery. We tend to specialize actually in historical mystery, but for non-fiction we’ll do business, we’ll do self-help. We do a limited amount of faith-based work, and we do really anything except … We don’t do cookbooks. We don’t do erotica. We don’t do poetry, and I think that’s it. The best thing to do would be to take a look at our website. By far our biggest categories are business and mystery fiction. If somebody’s unsure, they can always drop me a note.

Derek: Just test the waters.

Cynthia: Yeah, yeah.

Derek: Like I said, I’m sure you probably know a lot of people who are business book friendly, but from the outside looking in, there aren’t that many people, there aren’t that many agents that publicize that they like, accept, and even welcome business books. In fact, there’s quite a few of them that advertise absolutely no business books. Hate them.

Cynthia: I love, because then they’ll come my way.

Derek: Well, I’m glad you’re on our side. It’s nice to have somebody out there that’s an advocate for what business authors are trying to do.

Cynthia: Yeah, I grew up in the industry, focused mostly on business, and I feel really comfortable with it. I enjoy it, and it’s fun. If you get to do something that you enjoy, what more can you ask for.

Derek: That’s a great note to end on. All right, Cindy, thank you again so much for your time today.

Cynthia: Thank you. It was fun, and I’m happy to do it again.

Derek: Be careful what you wish for. Cynthia: Okay, thanks. Have a great day. Derek: You too. Cynthia: All right.