How to find an literary agent by H.-J.John

With nearly one million manuscripts submitted to publishers, today’s and tomorrow’s author more than ever needs a competitive advantage on the road to success. The Berliner-by-choice, Axel Poldner, supports authors who have recognized this.

I regularly take the train from Switzerland to Germany. I enjoy the ride and the scenery and devote myself to writing and conversations with fellow travellers. I am a person who repeatedly questions things. I stand in front of the ticket machine and every time I wonder whether I should travel first or second class. This may seem pointless to some, but over time it has allowed me to get familiar with both classes and know what I am talking and writing about.
A rational person in this world fraught with choices is encouraged to weigh his options. The individual, personal consumption pattern must not be allowed to perish in everyday life. Customized offers are popular.

So I proceeded similarly when selecting my literary agent. First I sent a couple of texts to be edited. An exciting e-mail exchange resulted, until I realized that in addition to the mere service as it is usually provided in the publishing business, I received something more: Wow, there is a person who cares about me, who tries to explore my weaknesses and strengths, who encourages me in the latter and downplays the former. He sees the author in me, puts more confidence in me than my self-doubt previously permitted, and writes about success as if it’s already arrived but my eyes have not recognized it. Then I notice how much power lies in each of the emails from this person who has already helped so many others in publishing their books.

At the ticket machine I weigh my options based on the following question: Are the comfort, quiet, and quasi-guaranteed seat worth the extra money for a first class ticket, or will a five-hour trip in second class, squeezed between noisy children and weekend commuters and facing the uncertainties of every mass gathering, suffice? Weighing the options as if I were buying train tickets never entered my mind after those initial contacts with the literary agent.  Taking into account nights of writing, countless Marlboro or Camel without filters, fearing, hoping, and writing for the big hit, I make no compromises in the choice of my literary agent: definitely first class.

After reviewing the various agents in the literary market, Axel Poldner piqued my interest. Decades of experience with authors and publishers as well as film production companies and accompanying them to success – even debut authors – made the difference. Of course, initially, every foal is a great white hope. Whether it later turns into an outstanding dressage or jumping horse is uncertain. Part of it is nature and another part can be trained.
Authors are similar. Few make the breakthrough to the top of the book pyramid, even if they have the right literary agent. It depends on a variety of elements. Vinegar and oil alone do not make a Greek salad. The ingredients need the right mixture. Too much may be too little. One case of too little rarely comes alone.

Choosing the right literary agent is important and can be critical. The agent mediates between author and publisher or film production company. A dutiful literary agent tries to set his authors apart from the countless others. This is done via their work, but equally important is the significant improvement of the authors’ competitive positions, achieved through important pre-publication efforts. In short, an agent who can empathize well with the views of publishers is needed.

If a real publisher – the so-called vanity publishers will not be discussed here – has the choice between a promising author with a non-proofread book and an equally promising author with a ready-to-print book, the publisher will approach the author whose agent can provide a book that has already been proofread.

Unlike the case of the ticket machine, I did not have to debate for even a moment between first or second choice. Important decisions are easy. I am sure I have chosen well.

Just like I am, many other people are spoiled for choice. Some would not recognize good fortune or success if it knocked on their door and they saw it through the peephole. Others use reason and intuition as guides and do the right thing.

© 2011 Hans-Jürgen John

الإسرائيليون والفلسطينيون (1) يكتبه هانز يورجن جون Hans-Jürgen John

نعمة الميلاد

أنا أعيش في العالم الغربي اليوم. و لقد فكرت كثيراً في نعمة مولدي.
ماذا لو أنني كنت ولدت في أحد منازل الفقراء في أفريقيا؟ ماذا لو لم أكن أعيش اليوم بل كنت أعيش منذ بضعة قرون مضت أو حتى بعد عدة سنوات في وقت لاحق…؟ في العصور الوسطى المظلمة أي تقريباً وسط معاناة الشعوب تحت وباء الطاعون؟ أو في المستقبل بكافة العواقب المترتبة على أفعال الأجيال السابقة.

ماذا لو … مثل هذه الأفكار تذكرني دوماً بإمكانية معايشة وقت السلم و التمتع به مرة أخرى وأن كل ما يبدو بديهياً هو إنجاز ندين به للأجيال التي سبقتنا.

أن يمكن لي أن أبيت شبعاناً وأن أقوم بجولة طبية آمنة. وربما أن أمشي ليلا أجوب المدن بلا خوف إذا ما أردت. و أن أرتكب خطئا ما مع امتلاكي الوقت للتعلم منه، دونما يكلفني ذلك حريتي أو حياتي.

إن الألم باعث جيد على الفكر

قبل بضعة أيام كانت ثمة أمسية إذاعية. عبارة عن نظرة سريعة إلى الوراء وبالتحديد على العام 1967، والذي كنت مهتماً به بشكل مباشر. ربما لأنني قد ولدت في هذا العام. وكان مدار الحديث عن حرب الأيام الستة بين إسرائيل وبعض الدول العربية. فكرت فقط : “آه، إلى أي مدى سيدوم الصراع هناك؟” ثم أعددت لنفسي ساندويتشا.

وبعد أيام قليلة أُصبت في ركبتي، وعلت صرخات ألمي. ولكن الألم كان غالبا مايوجعني. فأخذت أفكر: “ماذا لو استمريت أعاني من هذا الألم كل يوم لعقود؟”

ما مدى المعاناة التي يتحملها الناس وغيرهم في الحرب؟

وبعد ذلك بيومين أدركت فجأة أن ما بين إسرائيل والفلسطينيين ماهو في الواقع إلا صراع مشتعل وناشب منذ عقود، يتخلله وقف لإطلاق النار ومفاوضات سلام، ثم يستمر.
وشعرت على الفور أنه لا يروق لي التفكير في هذه المسألة المعضلة. فكم من الدول أرسلت بعثاتها من قبل ؟ وكم مرة اعتقدنا أنه يمكن تحقيق النجاح والسلام،إلا أننا سرعان ما نرى أن الصراع يتصاعد وتشتعل جذوة الحرب من جديد؟
ومن يكون الحق معه الآن؟ ولمن يجب أن يعطى الحق؟ أم هل ينبغي ترقب من يخضعون الحق الآن لأهوائهم حيث أمسى قانون الغاب يُملي شروطه؟

لقد تعبت من ذلك وسئمت استماع المزيد من أخبار التفجيرات والهجمات الانتحارية والصواريخ والمعاناة والألم.

الحرب تهدم والسلام يبني

أتخيل أنه ما دام هناك صراع ونزاعات بين الشعوب والأديان، فإن هذا الصراع سيكون دوماً فيروسا يستشري في جسد العالم كله وأن كل فترة سلام أو هدنة سلمية ستتدهور في كل مرة. إلا أنه ياترى من بيده الآن تسوية الأمور بين الإسرائيليين والفلسطينيين؟ بالتأكيد ليس أحد سواهم أنفسهم.

أتصور أن الإسرائيليين والفلسطينيين مثل كتلتين من الجليد. كأنهم قالوا لبعضهم البعض أنه لا يمكن وجود سلام مشترك بينهم. لذا فسوف يواصلون القهر ضد بعضهم البعض وستتواصل الاحتكاكات والمصادمات وربما يصل الأمر حد الإبادة والتدمير. فالمواقف المتصلبة تعني المواجهة. والمواجهة تعني المعاناة البشرية. لذا دعونا نذيب هذا الجليد!

على كلا الجانبين يوجد هناك بشر. على كلا الجانبين يوجد هناك أطفال ونساء ورجال. لذا فإنني قد قررت أن أكتب عن جزء من كل أسرة. مجموعه من ستة رسائل. أنا لا أتكلم لغتك. اللغة التي أتكلم بها يفهمها كل طفل وكل أم وكل أب. لذا سوف أبدأ رسالتي الأولى قريباً عن الأمهات الإسرائيليات تحت عنوان :
أوه، يا أمهات الإسرائيليين.

© 2011 هانز يورجن جون Hans-Jürgen John

Anthony Cataldo; friend and translator

Anthony Cataldo; friend and translator

Foto

Anthony in Ladakh

You can find and buy some of his photos made in India on:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nomad_afc

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Monika or the woman servant by H.-J. John, translated by Anthony Cataldo

First chapter

He was lying, on the floor in the middle of the untidyness of his room. Breathing. He wasn´t sure what time it was. Time wasn´t important anymore. Monika had gone.

His breath was becoming calmer when he became conscious of the great distance which was between them now. He first had to go to Mexico and then conquer her heart. Two impossible to manage tasks were dividing him from her, whereby the last seemed to be the most difficult one. The ticket to Mexico could be bought by credit. He had only two months before the holidays would be over. He wanted to see her. Even stronger than this wish, was the longing for her love. Two aims which could not be reached by a flight to Mexico City. She had taken off. With a lot of hand-waving she had said good-bye. His hope had gone with her passing the airport controls.

When the plane took off, he was still hoping that suddenly she would stand beside him and say in her very good German: “I thought about it, and decided to stay here.” After having a pott of coffee in the airport restaurant within sight of the airport runway he had together with the reviving effect of the coffein experienced what it meant to have fear of being left behind. He had suppressed the impulse to follow her with the next flight. If his love could not hold her back then every effort from his side in a foreign country without knowing the rituals and the language to reach her feelings would be without success…

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