MEDIA CONNECT Interview Series: Tom Miller, Literary Agent with Sanford J. Greenburger Associates



MEDIA CONNECT: What information do you need from an author on their initial contact with you?
Tom Miller: 
I prefer to get queries by email first. In that query, the author should briefly include the proposed title of the proposal, the subject of the book, the main audience/s for the book, the author’s credentials, and the author’s marketing/publicity platform. The author should also say whether or not he or she has a full proposal and/or a partial or full manuscript. By the way, for an agent, having a proposal and one or two sample chapters is preferable to getting a full manuscript.


millerquoteMC: Do you consider content or platform first?
Business books are business propositions. Content is crucial, and it’s very important that the author’s proposed book has a clear subject, a sharp focus, a defined market and audience, and, ideally, a strongly articulated promise and benefit for the intended audience. The book should have a fresh new hook — something that seems new and different from what’s already on the shelf.

Regarding platform, the most successful business authors are regarded as thought leaders in their fields. Thought leaders almost always have big platforms. With all commercial nonfiction, which business books almost always are, an author’s platform is just as important as the content. When a project’s author doesn’t have a good platform, a publisher will often turn down the project even if the content is excellent.


MC: What are the key ingredients to a business author’s platform these days?
Ideally, a business author should have a large built-in audience. Publishers love business authors who have huge email lists to whom the author can send email blasts alerting their readers to a book’s availability. Also very important is for an author to have a robust speaking schedule, speaking to the book’s intended audience. Other media platform elements — a magazine, website, newsletter, and/or regular TV or radio show — are also important parts of the platform. And finally, it’s great when an author has lots of top corporate connections — these companies can be approached for sponsorship, special sales, and/or custom or premium publishing opportunities.


MC: What is the market like for business books these days?
 The business bestseller lists are dominated by evergreen bestsellers, so it’s hard to break out a new bestseller. There’s been a lot of consolidation among publishers, so there are fewer houses to send projects to. Only a handful of business publishers are paying strong advances for business books these days. It isn’t impossible to build a new business bestseller, though, if the book has a great hook and contains great content, and if the author uses his or her strong platform proactively to promote the book.


MC: What are some of your recent successes?
 I’ve been an agent since September 2014, and I’m in the process of developing some very strong business book proposals, which I’ll be submitting to publishers this spring. Before that, I was an executive editor of business books at McGraw-Hill, where my biggest successes were Steve Forbes’ Money and Wes Moss’ You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think.


MC: What trends do you see in business books?
 Each major business book publisher has a different focus for its business book list, but overall, what I’m hearing is that personal finance and real estate books are on the decline and that leadership books, innovation books, “big think,” and cutting-edge business self-help books by top thought leaders are on the rise.


MC: How is the international market these days for business books?
 Our wonderful foreign rights director tells me that leadership books by top CEOs and innovative business self-help books that are not too US-focused are in demand by our foreign publishers.


MC: Are you doing any sideline publishing of your own?
Now that my creativity has been unleashed as an agent and I don’t have to attend so many meetings as an executive editor at a big publishing house, I’m about to start writing that novel that’s been bouncing around in my head ever since I went into publishing years ago! I’m excited. I still passionately love publishing, perhaps now more than ever.


Tom Miller joined Greenburger in September 2014 after three decades in senior and executive editorial positions at major publishing houses including Simon & Schuster, McGraw-Hill, Wiley, Penguin Random House, and HarperCollins.

At Greenburger, Tom represents primarily nonfiction projects in the areas of business, wellness and health, popular culture, psychology and self-help, diet, spirituality, and narrative nonfiction. Over his career, Tom has worked with both bestselling and prize-winning nonfiction and fiction authors including Jared Diamond (winner of a Pulitzer Prize), Dr. Loren Cordain (author of “The Paleo Diet”), Deepak Chopra, Steve Forbes, Ginger Rogers, Erica Jong, Judy Collins, Oliver North, Jack Cafferty, Brian Wilson, and Shirley Temple Black.


Related: MEDIA CONNECT Interview Series: Jenna Goudreau of Business Insider

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MEDIA CONNECT Interview Series: Donya Dickerson, Executive Editor At McGraw-Hill



MEDIA CONNECT: Do you mind being approached by an author directly instead of through an agent?
Donya Dickerson:
 I do take unsolicited manuscripts as long as they are in the business category.


donyaQuoteMC: Do you need to see a whole book or do sample chapters work for you?
Definitely sample chapters but the most important piece is the proposal. People will sometimes send a whole book without an actual proposal. I’m not going to look at any sample materials before reading the proposal first.


MC: What types of business books do you specialize in?
High-level business books that cover topics such as management, leadership, strategy, and culture. They need to be books that help people be more successful. I’ve worked on several books about leading global companies, like Starbucks, Caterpillar, The Ritz-Carlton, and more. I also acquire books on sales and marketing as well as critical business skills.

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MEDIA CONNECT Deskscape Series: What’s On Digital Publicist And Social Media Strategist Anna Patrick’s Desk?

The following article is a part of our Deskscape Series. Many of us spend up to eight or nine hours at our desks per day, making our “deskscapes” a creative reflection of the book publicity work we do for our clients every day.

Digital Publicist and Social Media Strategist Anna Patrick shares some of her favorite parts of her deskscape:


I like to think of my office space as a creative and productivity haven – somewhere I can feel at home in and draw inspiration from, somewhere that’s fun to arrive at every morning. For that reason the vibe is consistent, in many ways, to my home environment – black and white, cozy but with a creative element, candles, flowers, photos of family and friends, and – of course – overflowing with books.


I love to add a little light to my spaces, and I’m a firm believer that Christmas twinkly lights are appropriate indoors at any time time of year! I always keep a candle lit in that corner as well. Both highlight the beautiful painting that Mr. Finn made, which has a calming deep blue that sets the tone for the rest of the office.

The quotes above my computer say: “Life is better with a book,” “Good vibes only,” and a Gandhi quote that says, “Be truthful, gentle and fearless.” The latter is a card my mom sent me back in college, I’ve hung onto it ever since. It’s my digital PR strategy mantra of sorts.


One of my favorite parts of my office is, of course, my bookcase. I love looking over and seeing all of the books of the authors I’m working with, and ones from past publicity campaigns as well.

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MEDIA CONNECT Interview Series: Jenna Goudreau of Business Insider


The following Q&A appeared in the the latest edition of the MEDIA CONNECT newsletter. To subscribe for future editions, click here.


MC: How do you prefer to be contacted? Phone, fax, email? Are there specific days or time of days that you prefer to be contacted? (i.e. What are your cut-off times before and after the show?)
Jenna Goudreau:
 E-mail is best. Mondays are rough with e-mail, but any other time is fine.


MC: What do you want to see and when? Catalogs? Galleys? Finished books? Do you want to see all books or only select titles? Please be as specific as possible.
Galleys and finished books are great. I like to be able to flip through them and identify main ideas, themes, and interesting lists. I want to see books associated with my sections: Strategy, Careers, and Your Money. That means I’m interested in career and leadership books; business strategy and advice; memoirs of high-profile entrepreneurs, CEOs, celebrities and politicians; and personal finance.

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Author Q&A with Charles Morgan: New Book Tells the Story of the Man Who Paved the Way for the Big Data Revolution

Corporations, marketers, and governments are exploring the practical and legal limits of collecting and utilizing Big Data.  One man began thinking about its value decades before anyone else, and he’s revealing his professional insights, personal experiences, and career triumphs in a new book, Matters of Life and Data:  The Remarkable Journey of a Big Data Visionary Whose Work Impacted Millions –Including You, available in July. 

lifeanddata“The man who opened your lives to Big Data finally bares his own,” reads the introduction to this most stirring memoir.

Indeed, he has much to share, as Morgan, 72, should know a few things about Big Data. The company he helped grow into a technology and marketing powerhouse, Acxiom, is a world leader in data-gathering and its accompanying technology, and has collected over 1,500 separate pieces of information on some half a billion people around the globe.

His book recounts and celebrates a journey from his modest upbringing in a small town on the Arkansas River to his role as one of America’s all-time Big Data visionaries. During his 36-year tenure, Morgan grew a small data processing firm of 25 employees into a global juggernaut by becoming one of the largest aggregators of data and consumer information in the world. He transformed the small data processing company into a publicly held, $1.4 billion corporation with 7,000 employees and offices throughout the world. 








The following is a Q&A with Charles Morgan:


MEDIA CONNECT: How can we protect the privacy of individuals but still allow companies to benefit from the use of Big Data?

Charles Morgan: Big Data has the potential to do a great deal of good in our world today and for many years to come. On the other hand, Big Data will create a lot privacy issues.  Today, much more data is being recorded about each of us than you might imagine. In February 2015, for example, Samsung admitted that their new TVs will be collecting data about the people who watch them. That data will include voice data (what you say about what you are watching), picture data (your expressions as you watch), and viewing data. Samsung of course claims that this data will only be used to improve the quality of the overall experience of using their product. Do I believe them? I don’t doubt that this is what they intended these data-collection TVs to do, but it sure doesn’t take much imagination to see a great potential for misuse of such data. We will never be able to write enough laws to totally solve this problem. We cannot stop companies from using data that improves the quality of products and services.

However, we must somehow protect ourselves from misuse. At Acxiom, our motto was “consumer privacy is a state of mind.” It didn’t matter if something was legal; the question should be posed, “Is this right? Is this the way we would want to have our data collected and used?”  Companies have to have education programs for their employees and create that state of mind—that the security of people’s personal data is important to our whole society. 


MC: You say that Acxiom Corporation, a world leader in data gathering and its accompanying technology, has obtained some 1,500 separate pieces of information on over a half-billion people worldwide. How do we make sure the information is not used wrongfully?

CM: I had great concerns about the possibility of data misuse at Acxiom. We had literally hundreds of thousands of data files with extraordinary amounts of in-depth information about everyone who lived in the United States and many in Europe. I developed a philosophy that we could not create enough rules at Acxiom to solve the problem. Eventually I came to believe that creating an atmosphere and culture of data protection was the best answer. We chose to educate our people and to create a simple set of rules. For example, the “do right rule” taught our employees to think about the data that they cared for as data about people just like themselves—in fact, it could even include their own family members. So treat that data like you would want your own data to be treated.  

Of course there were more complex rules that applied in all of our data practices. There were—and still are—laws that protect people’s credit data.  Credit data could only be used for preapproved credit offers and not for other kinds of marketing. To help oversee all this process of education and oversight with our employees and our customers, in 1991 I appointed a chief privacy officer. Jennifer Barrett became the first chief privacy officer in the United States, and today she still holds that position at Acxiom. Jennifer has become a global leader in marketing data use and data protection.

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8 Bookish Podcasts You Need To Listen To


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By Josie Urwin, Publicist


One of the perks of BEA (which took place in NYC last week) is having a chance to catch up with all your bookish pals across the industry and learn about what’s going on in the literary scene. At a party hosted by Bookrageous (in and of itself a great literary podcast!) we got to talking about what our favorite literary podcasts are.

So I figured I’d write up my very first MEDIA CONNECT blog post on the podcasts I’m obsessed with at the moment:


Book Fight

I hadn’t heard about this podcast before last week, but after listening to it I’m hooked, and think it definitely doesn’t get the coverage it deserves. The hosts, writers Mike Ingram and Tom McAllister, talk books for the hour-plus long episodes but it’s really the way they do it that takes the cake. They don’t take discussing books too seriously and they are just hysterical, I’m a big fan of the blurbs section in particular.


Welcome to Night Vale

While not a podcast about books, Welcome to Night Vale is a fictional radio broadcast from the odd town of Night Vale, where librarians are monsters and the faceless old woman is probably harmless but supremely creepy. I can’t recommend this one enough, it really got me hooked on podcasts in general. It’s well written, very funny, and the weather section of the bogus broadcast is just a song from a musician I have usually never heard of before. And better yet, it’s becoming a book this fall!


Books on the Nightstand

Publishing insiders Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman give book recommendations and talk about the behind-the-scenes world of the book industry in Books on the Nightstand. Walk in with an empty TBR list and come out with weeks’ worth of reading material. You won’t be disappointed by their suggestions either.

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MEDIA CONNECT Deskscape Series: What’s On Publicist Nicole Martineau’s Desk?

The following article is a part of our Deskscape Series. Many of us spend up to eight or nine hours at our desks per day, making our “deskscapes” a creative reflection of the book publicity work we do for our clients every day.

Publicist Nicole Martineau shares some of her favorite parts of her deskscape:


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I’m a huge pop culture nerd and a cat lady, and I think my current work space reflects a little bit of each. A former co-worker gifted the Playbill calendar and cat mug to me, which fit in perfectly with the cat cards I already had tacked up on my wall.

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MEDIA CONNECT Deskscape Series: What’s On Publicist Cori Cagide’s Desk?

The following article is a part of our Deskscape Series. Many of us spend up to eight or nine hours at our desks per day, making our “deskscapes” a creative reflection of the book publicity work we do for our clients every day.

Publicist Cori Cagide shares some of her favorite parts of her deskscape:

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While most days in book publicity are fun and exciting, there are some days that can leave you feeling a little stressed, overwhelmed and sometimes burnt out. It always helps to have a little reminder that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, and you’re doing what you love for a reason.

By my desk, I keep a mug with a glittery “R” on it for Rutgers University, to remind me of all the time and effort I put in during my time at school to get to where I am now. I spent my last semester at school as an intern with MEDIA CONNECT, and was lucky enough to gain full time employment the Monday after my graduation. It’s a great reminder that hard work definitely pays off.

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Author Q&A With Michael Koep: When Art Comes To Life

Imagine paintings that hold the secrets to the meaning of life, and death—or scribbled words that can alter past and reshape the present. We know art imitates life, but in Michael B. Koep’s thriller fiction trilogy he brings the arts to life in an action-packed tale spanning seven centuries.

A new book, The Newirth Mythology: Leaves of Fire (June, 2015) tells of how a journal has inadvertently created real lives off the page, changed history, and made myths and their characters real. There is a battle for life on Earth – and the Afterlife – and the fate of existence itself hangs in the balance. The war of the immortals has begun. Koep’s latest installment entwines seemingly unconnected lives from different time periods and deeply explores myth, memory, revenge, and the hope of forgiveness.

“I have always had a love for myths and how myths frame a culture’s narrative,” says Koep, “and ultimately, I wanted to try my hand at my own mythology.”

Amid swordfights, shootouts, betrayal, secret guardians prone to poetic monologues and murders – in a milieu of fine art, fine food, secret lovers, myth, mafia, ancient languages, and the loud music of classic vinyl LPs, Koep’s trilogy will leave the reader questioning what it means to be human and what lies beyond this world.


The following is a Q&A with Michael Koep:


MEDIA CONNECT: Michael, what inspired you to launch your thought-provoking, supernatural thriller series?

Michael Koep: A number of things inspired the writing of Part One of the Newirth Mythology, The Invasion of Heaven, for the story has been haunting my notebooks for a little over 15 years. Looking at the book now I’m thrilled to see that I managed to fit nearly all of my obsessions into the story: music, painting, poetic monologues, sword fighting, bits of psychology, poetry, mafia, international travel and mystery. I even got to explore the big why are we here questions.

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MEDIA CONNECT Deskscape Series: What’s On Partner & Director of MC Satellite Kristin Clifford Creedle’s Desk?

The following article is a part of our Deskscape Series. Many of us spend up to eight or nine hours at our desks per day, making our “deskscapes” a creative reflection of the book publicity work we do for our clients every day.


Partner & Director of MC Satellite Kristin Clifford Creedle shares some of her favorite parts of her deskscape:

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Working from home has allowed me to better balance my two worlds: new mom and Partner at MEDIA CONNECT… and I’m forever grateful!

Having just settled into my new desk after my maternity leave I haven’t had much time to decorate my new office space, but there are two items sitting on my desk that never fail to make me smile. One is a picture taken of my husband and I on our wedding day, and the other is an adorable calendar my mother gave to me for Christmas this year. This month features two bright pink seahorses giving each other a little smooch.

After a client call, writing a new business proposal, brainstorming or hashing out the latest billing, it helps to be able to look around and clear my head. For me, most days that now means taking a few steps into the living room and visiting my 6-month-old twins, Vivienne and Liam, but for those moments when there’s no time to take even five minutes I can take two seconds and recall the thrill I felt on the day I got married, and that in turn reminds me of how lucky I am today.

And then there are those times when my household comes to visit me… my cat Lily has decided that she’s my new co-worker and often settles herself in my inbox. I can’t say she’s very helpful but she’s guaranteed to make me smile.


Related: MEDIA CONNECT Deskscape Series: What’s On Associate Publicist Emily Labes’s Desk?

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