Julie Gwinn, currently a literary agent with The Seymour Agency, has more than a decade in Christian publishing including serving as marketing manager then Fiction Publisher for B&H Publishing Group and Marketing Manager for Abingdon Press.
Q: What information do you need from an author on their initial contact with you?
A: I want to know the story idea, their bio and why their book is unique. I also need to know word count and if the project is complete. Publishers want to see a full manuscript and so I need to know how much.
Q: Do you consider content or platform first?
A: You need both to have the best scenario for success. But I look at story/content first. Platform you can build.
Q: How would you describe your perfect client?
A: My perfect client is prolific, because agents are looking for a long term relationship, not just a one-off project. My perfect client would be fun to work with in all phases of the publishing process (editing, pitching, marketing and selling)
Q: What are the major trends you see in Christian Publishing? Are there trends that you miss?
A: I think Amish has reached a plateau and off-shoots are happening now (Amish mystery, Amish YA, Quaker, etc.). I also see spec/fantasy/sci-fi growing in Christian publishing. Realm Makers, a writer’s conference for Christian spec/fantasy/sci-fi authors has doubled in size in three years.
Q: What types of Christian books do you specialize in?
A: I love anything with romance (contemporary or historical). I enjoy a good suspense novel and also a unique spec/fantasy novel.
Q: What are the key ingredients to a Christian author’s platform?
A: An active blog. A presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and GoodReads. An interactive website that can be built out with bio, Q&A, video, excerpt, etc.
Q: Are you doing any sideline publishing of your own?
A: I am working with authors who want to be hybrid and have both self-pub and traditional publishing project. I will edit, help with cover design, formatting and marketing.
Q: Are there any unique components to the Christian publishing industry vs. Mainstream Publishing?
A: I represent both Christian and mainstream authors and have noticed a movement toward the middle for both Christian and Mainstream publishers. I think this movement is one the byproducts of New York houses merging with Christian publishers. Christian authors are more eager to portray real life situations (divorce, infertility, adultery, drug addiction) but still retain the themes of hope, redemption, grace and forgiveness. Mainstream publishers are looking for a more inspirational type of fiction. Not overtly Christian, but a strong story with good characters, dialog and plot but without sex, violence and language of other mainstream titles.
Q: Do you have any tips that authors should avoid as they approach you?
A: Authors should avoid typos, poor grammar and misspellings. I’m also put off by authors claiming to be the next Ted Dekker or Karen Kingsbury. If they are a good writer, they don’t need to try to sell me!
Q: Do you have a favorite author story?
A: I have several authors that I worked with while at B&H. One author, Pepper Basham, I met at ACFW several years ago. I told her at the time that her stories weren’t ready yet, but when they were I wanted to see them. Because I believed in HER. Today I represent her and we have several books coming out this year. Her first, The Thornbearer released in March. I couldn’t be happier for her!
Julie Gwinn’s Bio:
Prior to joining the publishing industry, Gwinn has more than 20 years’ experience in advertising, marketing and public relations. She uses her previous experience to aid her authors at every phase of their publishing plan. She lives in Nashville, TN, with her husband and two children and also enjoys freelance editing, and DIY projects around the house.