Congratulations to WSA’s Michelle Bowdler on being long-listed for the National Book Award for Nonfiction!

We are so proud of Bowdler’s Is Rape A Crime? (represented by Nicki Richesin) which has been long-listed for the National Book Award for Nonfiction. Here is the complete list below:

2020 Longlist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction: 

Michelle Bowdler, Is Rape a Crime?: A Memoir, an Investigation, and a ManifestoFlatiron Books / Macmillan Publishers

Karla Cornejo VillavicencioThe Undocumented AmericansOne World / Penguin Random House

Jill Lepore, If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the FutureLiveright / W. W. Norton & Company

Les Payne and Tamara Payne, The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm XLiveright / W. W. Norton & Company

Claudio Saunt, Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian TerritoryW. W. Norton & Company

Jenn Shapland, My Autobiography of Carson McCullers
Tin House Books

Jonathan C. Slaght, Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl
Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan Publishers

Jerald Walker, How to Make a Slave and Other Essays
Mad Creek Books / The Ohio State University Press

Frank B. Wilderson III, Afropessimism
Liveright / W. W. Norton & Company

Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
Random House / Penguin Random House

How To Sell A Book by Sarah Ruiz

Pictured: My notebook from creative writing class in high school.

How to sell a book.

2000-2009: Write a story about a kid farting. It amuses your 4th grade teacher. Write weird stuff in MS and HS, including some angsty poetry. Get a teacher who critiques your work and teaches you revision.

2009-2013: Start a writing club in college with your BFF. Write a bad novel about a psychic teen named Cayce Edgar (lol). Take a fiction writing class and become the prof’s TA. Convince him to advise a fiction honors thesis, even though you aren’t a cw major. It almost doesn’t get approved. Work harder on it than you ever worked on anything in your life.

2015: Apply to 1 MFA program. Get waitlisted.

2016: Work on your app stories for NCSU’s MFA program every morning at 5 am. Get accepted on April 1st while on a plane. (It’s not a joke. Also you’re pregnant and have a toddler.)

2016-2018 Start your MFA 7 months pregnant. Be bummed your water doesn’t break in class. Write a novel.

Dec 2018: Query novel. Miraculously spend less than a month in the query trenches. Assume sub will be easy (lol).

March 2019: Go on sub. Revise book with an editor, but the book never sells.

Aug-Nov 2019: It’s okay. You were already working on the next thing. Send your agent the first 80 pages. She gently/accurately tells you it’s not great. Agree and freak out for 2 days. Read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. An old idea pops into your head. Write the first draft in 70 days.

Feb 2020: Send horrible 2nd draft to your agent. She sees potential but gives GIANT feedback. Gut it and revise for 3.5 months.

May 2020: Agent loves it. Give your dream editor (the one who liked the first book) an exclusive.

June 2020: Commence the longest two weeks of your life. Expect rejection every day. Oh wait! The editor makes an offer. Cry, roll on the floor, drink champagne. (Not simultaneously.)

The point: Getting published is hard. Everyone’s path is different. I had a LOT of failures along the way (and expect plenty more), but each was a step forward, not back.

–Sarah Ruiz, author of forthcoming LOVE, LISTS, AND FANCY SHIPS

Two Deal Treasure by Kelli Martin

I wasn’t supposed to sell non-fiction. I’m an escapist novel kind of girl. A ride-or-die fiction-loving woman. I live and breathe and bleed feel-good fiction that I can devour in one sitting – flowy dress slipped on, knitting needles in my lap, afghan throw lovingly placed over my bare feet, tealights decorating the pier under the Adirondack chair I’m curled up in. I’m that kind of reader. Over the years, I’ve learned that in books, in reading, in publishing and in love, sometimes the best-laid plans go awry…happily so.

When I started as a literary agent at Wendy Sherman Associates, my mission was to focus on love stories and romance novels. Imagine my delight when the first project I sold was for narrative non-fiction – a beautifully written, no-holds-barred memoir with humanitarian, social activist, racial and cultural lenses aimed at the U.S. justice system. The next day, a charming romantic comedy about a Millennial med school student diagnosed with anxiety disorder received an offer too.

At first glance, these two books may seem like they have little in common. Looking deeper, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Both are about protagonists who are trying to cement their places in the world. Both are about people and/or lived experiences that have been invisible or maligned. Both are about finding peace amidst pain. Both are about the tears we shed, and the loved ones who help put us back together. Both are about the tough, tender ways we come of age and come into adulthood. Both are affirming celebrations of the ways we grasp at life.

Most of all, both books are love letters…love letters to family and culture, love letters to aspects of ourselves that we shed, and love letters to the selves we are becoming – in all their fullness and richness and radiance.

The plans we make? Sometimes they end up by the wayside. Then something new takes over. Maybe that something new is not really new at all, it’s been there all along. And now we see it. We finally see the path to this new kind of self-love. And the view is mighty fine.

-Kelli

Michelle Bowdler’s Is Rape A Crime? A Memoir, an Investigation, and a Manifesto

When Michelle Bowdler was in her early twenties, she dreamed of becoming a writer. Then in 1984, she was violently raped during a home invasion and her whole world exploded. Once a passionate assistant editor working at a magazine, she had to rebuild her entire life while struggling with PTSD. And she did. She studied public health at Harvard (and gave the commencement speech), married her devoted wife Mary and had two children, became Executive Director of Health and Wellness at Tufts, an activist for rape victims, and joined a vibrant writing community at Grub Street in Boston. When I met Michelle in 2018, I read her manuscript and was astonished by her exquisite mastery of language and storytelling. I signed her as a client and discovered the perfect editor for her project, Bryn Clark at Flatiron Books. Witnessing Michelle achieve her 30+ years dream come true of finally publishing her book has been an honor.

Michelle’s story is one of inspiration, love, and overwhelming hope. As her publicist Amelia Possanza pointed out to us, she became the champion she needed all those years ago. I am in awe of her incredible talent as a writer, but also her generosity, kindness, and gracious spirit. I hope you will read her powerful manifesto, join the movement by supporting local grassroots organizations, and vote.

You can learn more about Michelle’s book Is Rape a Crime? and her work in this Guardian interview by another courageous writer Moira Donegan.

–Nicki Richesin

NYT Interview of Cherise Fisher

Today’s New York Times features an interview with WSA agent Cherise Fisher!

“There is an engine in publishing houses. Not every book gets the same amount of gas. Some books get premium. Some get regular. My hope is that the books people are purchasing right now have the full buy-in from the company. This interest and rush to acquire is fantastic, but we need to take it all the way so those books have a fair chance of success. Their success will be a determining factor for future books by diverse voices. Publishers are large corporate conglomerates. They’re not cultural institutions — they’re businesses.”

Read more here!

Photograph of Cherise taken by Brian Fraser for The New York Times

WSA News

It has been an unprecedented month to say the least. Everything that has happened seems to be ripped from the pages of a novel. But it’s real. Here at WSA we are all working from home and getting lots done… reading proposals and manuscripts, talking with editors, and doing deals. Yes, publishers are buying books! 

Along with all our book news below, I’m thrilled and delighted that Laura Mazer, formerly executive editor at Seal Press, an imprint of Hachette Book Group has joined us as an agent, expanding our presense on the West Coast.

In this time of great uncertainty, books and the escape they provide are more vital than ever. 

Here’s a round-up of what has happened at Wendy Sherman Associates recently:

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler was published on March 10 and became an instant New York Times bestseller. Barnes & Noble named a Good Neighborhood it’s March book club selection and hosted a nationwide book club event on April 7 (online).

Mercy House by Alena Dillon has received rave reviews and continues to be a book club darling. News flash: Amy Shumer and CBS are developing the novel for TV.

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali made its paperback debut and continues to captivate readers and garner praise.

The Audacity to Be Queen by Gina DeVee launched with an epic two day event in Miami in early March, which feels like a lifetime ago.

Stay tuned and stay well.

-Wendy Sherman

WSA Upcoming Releases

The new decade is off to a brilliant start. Here at WSA we are looking at many fabulous books launching in the first few months of 2020: 

Alena Dillon‘s debut novel Mercy House (2/11) has been hailed by Amy Schumer as, “A life-altering debut featuring fierce, funny, and irreverent women who battle the most powerful institution in the world. This is the book we’ve all been waiting for.”  If you’re looking for a perfect selection for your book club or reading group look no further. Both PW and Library Journal have pointed to Mercy House as an ideal choice for reading groups and book clubs. Pre-order your copy here.

Marjan Kamali‘s The Stationery Shop has stolen readers’ hearts everywhere and is now launching in paperback (2/11). I didn’t think any cover could wow me as much as the hardcover, but I’m blown away by how completely gorgeous this paperback looks. The Stationery Shop is a gem inside and out and has become a favorite for book clubs and reviewers, and continues to land on dozens of lists, including NPR’s “Favorite Books of 2019” list.  It’s an Indie Next Selection and a Library Reads Selection. Yes, it’s an unforgettable love story, but it also illuminates the rich cultural life set against the backdrop of the 1953 coup d’etat in Iran. Learn more about upcoming events with Marjan here.

Audacity to be Queen The Unapologetic Art of Dreaming Big and Manifesting Your Most Fabulous Life by Gina DeVee is a game-changer (3/3).New York Times bestselling author of You Are a Badass Jen Sincero says “Gina DeVee is a master at articulating what it means to be an empowered woman.”   Gina is the Founder of Divine Living, a multimillion-dollar lifestyle brand and women’s empowerment company and teaches how to embrace our inner queen with confidence and poise. Pre-order your copy here

Courtney Carver‘s first book Soulful Simplicity was an instant success. The Minimalist fashion challenge that started it all was Project 333 and now it’s a book (3/3)!  For 3 months, you wear 33 items and get back all the joy you were missing while you were worrying about what to wear. Give it a try, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Pre-order your copy here.

Stay tuned for exciting news about New York Times bestselling author Therese Anne Fowler‘s new novel A Good Neighborhood . It’s already one of the most highly anticipated books of the year (3/10). Learn more here.