Kelli Martin: From Editor to Agent, There’s Always an HEA at RWA

RWA Conference is a rite of passage. It’s the conference to go to for the romance book world. Held in a different U.S. city each summer, the annual conference for Romance Writers of America® is always filled with firsts.

In 2008, when I was an editor at Harlequin, I attended my first RWA in San Francisco.  I remember being astounded at how enthusiastic the readers were. I’d never seen a conference like it, with energy that joyous, that gregariously energetic for reading, romance novels and HEAs (happily ever afters). It was the first time I’d ever felt truly inspired by a work conference.

The first RWA when books I had edited or acquired were nominated for a prestigious RITA Award was 2013 in Atlanta. We were over the moon to see our authors receive recognition from RWA and readers….I remember us at that ballroom table smiling and tearing up with delight and loyalty and gratitude.

I’m just now back from RWA 2018 in Denver. I went not with colleagues or as part of a publishing house, but on my own as a literary agent. At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would I feel lonely? Would I feel out of place? But it felt like home. A very open, new home. I think it was the sense that anything’s possible as a literary agent.

That sense of discovery being the first person to love a new story, to fall in love with a new author you know will move readers – lots and lots of readers. It’s an addictive feeling, that sense of discovery. There’s a freedom in seeing how far writers and I can collaborate to make them a published author. I feel invigorated knowing I can matchmake authors with editors and publishers who will share their vision and bring it to life. Building relationships is my superpower, and it’s crucial in the agenting business. It’s my own happily ever after.


2018 BookExpo

BookExpo America is the country’s largest ​book fair, held this year in NYC’s Javits Center. Publishing professionals, librarians, booksellers, ​and authors​ all gather under one giant roof to meet with colleagues, see ​publishers’ ​upcoming books, ​sell foreign rights, meet with media, ​and (best of all) ​meet the writers and editors who are shaping the industry.​ As always, the Javits Center was ​the place to be with books and the people who love and create them—such a fun scene, especially since ​for a first-time attendee​ like me​.

The event offers a variety of educational panels, ​high energy booths with displays of books, ​and ​long lines for book signings snaked through the aisles. ​We loved ​the​ chance to connect with colleagues and ​feel the amazing energy​. ​Itreally is astonishing to see the huge number and variety of books that are ready to enter the world and find their readers!

– Marie

New Spring Books

It’s been a long, seemingly endless winter here in NYC. Snow in April is not my idea of fun.  What is my idea of fun is looking ahead and seeing all the amazing books of ours that are being published this year.

I just returned from DC, where I had the pleasure of attending Steve Kistulentz‘s reading of his powerful debut novel, Panorama, at Politics and Prose (as well as the thrill of seeing the Michelle and Barack Obama portraits at the National Portrait Gallery).  I loved Steve’s novel from the moment I started to read it—and I read it from cover to cover in one fabulous weekend. Two years later, voila! Panorama continues to receive high praise, including these words from Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Robert Olen Butler: “A remarkable literary work…this is a stunning debut by an important new writer.”

Wade Rouse’s newest novel, The Recipe Box, written under the pen name Viola Shipman, is a hit right out of the gate. It landed on the MIBA bestseller list in week one, and has quickly become a favorite. Wade chose his pen name as a tribute to his grandmother, and writes beautiful, heartfelt stories like The Charm Bracelet (2016) and The Hope Chest (2017); The Recipe Box is his third novel centered on treasured family heirloomsThere was not a dry eye in the house when Wade delivered the keynote address at the Texas Library Association annual conference last week. These words of praise from #1 New York Times bestselling author Richard Paul Evans (The Christmas Box) say it all: “Filled with cherished memories and treasured recipes, The Recipe Box is a touching tribute to the women and food that unite us and connect our past to the present.”

Pray for spring weather…

Open Book: Will Lightning Strike Therese Anne Fowler Twice?

Publisher’s Weekly takes a look at Therese Fowler’s upcoming novel, A Well-Behaved Woman:

The name Vanderbilt carries a huge weight, conjuring images of mansions, robber barons, and even, in the 20th century, denim jeans. Most of us might be able to pull up “Cornelius” and more of us “Gloria,” but what do we really know about this huge and influential American family?

Therese Anne Fowler came up against this as she was looking for a follow-up to her massive 2013 bestseller, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. She faced the inevitable author dilemma: what next?

Next became A Well-Behaved Woman, the story of Alva Vanderbilt, the woman who brought the very rich but socially shunned Vanderbilts into New York society, which is set to be published in October by St. Martin’s. READ MORE

Bestselling Author Wendy Walker Takes Taiwan by Storm

If someone offers you a promotional tour of Taiwan, just say YES.

And then be sure you get to go too! I just returned from two weeks in Taiwan with bestselling author Wendy Walker (All is Not Forgotten and Emma in the Night). Our Taiwan publisher Ecus Books hosted us for a whirlwind tour that centered on the Taiwan International Book Fair and included 15 events—book signings, talks, panels, and media interviews in 10 days.

One highlight of the trip took place at the prestigious girls Jongshan School in Taipei. Wendy spoke to an audience of 100 girls about the career of a writer, and the importance of
developing a tool kit of skills that would help them succeed
in any career direction they chose. It was a thrill to see these charming girls line up after the talk to get signed copies of the books and get a picture taken with Wendy Walker.

Taiwan is a country of avid readers, warm and inviting people, and beautiful natural wonders. We experienced an earthquake (not recommended) and the colorful excitement leading up to the Chinese New Year (highly recommended).

The food of Taiwan is legendary and its reputation is very well deserved. We wined and dined at amazing local restaurants, sampling foods we might never have otherwise tried—stinky tofu, Thousand Year egg, sweet porridge, jellyfish, and a variety of dumplings that I will dream about for some time to come. Ecus’ CEO Vivien Chen hosted several dinners and treated us to killer cocktails that will remain a big part of our Taiwan memories.



We are grateful for the experience and the generosity and kindness of our hosts at Ecus Books and our co-agent in Taiwan, Whitney Hsu, who handled all the details to perfection. Thank you. Thank you, Thank you. You will stay in our hearts. You can find more fun photos on my Instagram at @wendysherman.


William Lashner’s New Middle Grade Series Sold to Disney

​I am ​thrilled to share the news that longtime WSA client, ​bestselling ​thriller writer ​William Lashner​, ​​ ​will be publishing his first middle​ ​grade​ fiction series with Disney-Hyperion! T​he series ​features twelve-year-old ​Elizabeth Webster, ​Attorney for the Damned, who discovers she is next in line to run the family legal practice…representing clients from the underworld.

​I partnered with my colleague Alex Glass​ at Glass Literary Management in this three-book deal sold at auction.

Happy FALL!

I always love this time of year.  Everyone is posting adorable pix on Facebook of their kids heading back-to-school. At WSA we have incredible back-to-work happenings on the heels of a very busy and successful summer.

Wendy Walker’s EMMA IN THE NIGHT launched huge out of the gate and continues to dazzle readers, as did the paperback of her previous novel ALL IS NOT FORGOTTEN.  Our first Fall pub is Cheryl Reed’s thriller debut POISON GIRLS which has been compared to books by Laura Lippman. THE WELCOME HOME DINER by Peggy Lampman will be published next month.

On the non-fiction side of the list we have Sage Lavine’s WOMEN ROCKING BUSINESS, Emma Johnson’s KICK ASS SINGLE MOM and the most gorgeous book, CRYSTAL MUSE by Heather Askinose and Timmi Jandro.     

Stay tuned for lots of excitement in the weeks ahead!   WSA.

Welcoming Cherise Fisher

We are thrilled to share the news that Cherise Fisher has joined the agency as an agent. Cherise and I worked together for many years while she was an editor at Simon & Schuster and Editor-in-Chief at Plume, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Since the beginning of our collaboration we have sold two novels by Sadeqa Johnson Second House from the Corner and And Then There Was Me (St. Martins Press) and most recently, the groundbreaking book on​ co-parenting Blend by Mashonda Tifrere which will have a forew​o​rd by Alicia Keys and a chapter by Swizz Beatz (Tarcher/Perigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House).

Cherise has always been one of the most respected editors in the business and is now looking to build her list on the other side of the desk. You can learn more about Cherise and her areas of interest here.