Nancy Stauffer-Cahoon2012 Writers @ Work Interview with Nancy Stauffer Cahoon

What inspired you to become an agent, publisher, or consultant

Well, I was Director of Subsidiary Rights at Doubleday at the time, and while becoming an agent was something I had been considering on and off for a long time, I’d loved working in sub rights.  Yet as Rights Director, running a department with a large staff and a lot of financial and administrative responsibilities,  I found myself getting farther and farther away from writers and writing (which was the reason I’d gone into publishing in the first place).   So I left in 1989 to found my agency and never looked back.  Not once.

Are there any occupational hazards to being an agent, publisher, or consultant?

There are probably many but here’s one.   Agents (and editors) are professional readers, which means among other things we’re generally very quick to assess work, so we all know within the first couple of pages whether or not a particular work is speaking to us. Thus over the years I’ve realized how impatient I’ve become reading for pleasure.  Something really has to grab me right away and not let me go, otherwise, well, I go …  on to the next.  There are an infinite number of books out there and I’ll never be able to read even a fraction of them, so if I’m not hooked pretty immediately, that’s it.  Of course, I expect I’ve missed some wonderful work across the years.   Alas.

What do you think is the future of writing? How will technology change literature?

 The future of writing continues to be bright, perhaps brighter than ever.  Technology has already changed the way writing is delivered and consumed, and I’m sure that will continue, in ways we might expect and in ways we won’t.  But here in 2013, Content is still (now more than ever) King.  Long live the King!

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