Agent’s Conference Success Story from Stefanie von Borstel

Author Karen Benke met her agent, Stefanie von Borstel of Full Circle Literary, at the 2008 WLT Agents Conference, a meeting that resulted in her book RIP THE PAGE! Adventures in Creative Writing, published in July 2010 by Shambala/Trumpeter. On Tuesday, Karen shared her look behind the book; today Stefanie recounts her perspective.


Agent Stefanie von Borstel’s Success Story

Since I grew up in Texas, I jumped at the chance to visit my favorite state when invited to the 2008 Writers League of Texas Agents Conference! I participate in many writers conferences, and I’m often asked by aspiring writers to recommend books that might help them polish their craft and inspire their muse. While there are several how-to titles out there, I’ve always longed to be able to recommend a book that would offer equal parts — direction and fun!

Karen Benke presented her idea for just such a writing book during our short pitch meeting in Austin, and both her big idea and her fabulous background as a poet and writing coach intrigued me. She submitted her proposal a few months after the conference, and her writing was golden. While it felt that there were nuggets of gold in the proposal, the project needed some polishing so that it could shine as a trade book. Having spent many years in editorial and marketing departments at Harcourt and Penguin, I knew that the fabulous writing was a great start, but that we needed to build a strong case for publishers to make it through acquisitions! Karen and I discussed some proposal strategiesm including positioning her book with popular non-writing books that had a similar fun factor as Comparative Books (à la Keri Smith), tapping Karen’s fabulous connections in the writing world for some early endorsements (which continued to grow and grow as you can see from the impressive contributors list!), and bringing more oomph! to the title (after much brainstorming, RIP THE PAGE! was born).

Through our several suggestions on her project, Karen worked hard and came back to us with revised proposals. We hadn’t yet offered representation, but Karen stayed in contact with news about her work and revisions to her project. Her perseverance and professionalism didn’t go unnoticed, and we knew that she had the dedication it took and that one day we’d work together on a fabulous book! In summer 2010 Shambhala/Trumpeter released RIP THE PAGE! Adventures in Creative Writing. It’s hard to believe that just two summers ago, Karen shared her book idea at a little table in Austin. From that meeting I now have just the book I’ve always wanted to share at those little tables in Austin, in Los Angeles, in Portland, and in all the other places where writers might need a bit of inspiration — and most of all a lot of fun!

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