“I’m invested in my authors long-term careers and want them to feel as supported as possible throughout the entire process.” -Jan Baumer, Folio Literary Management
Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings 20-25 literary agents and book editors to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 29th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 24 – 26, 2022, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our visiting agents and editors here.
An Interview with Jan Baumer
Jan Baumer is searching for enlightenment, and books are the vehicle. Change Jan’s perspective, make her see something from your point of view, lead her to challenge her own convictions and beliefs. Enlightenment comes in many forms – whether it’s humor, new ideas on parenting, spirituality, business, diet, health, mindfulness, exercise, or helping others through sharing your own story with powerful prose. Jan is looking for authors who are measurable experts in their field (i.e., impressively credentialed or come with a built-in following) and are looking to change minds, change the world, and change the way people think, interact, and live day-to-day. Jan started her publishing career as an editorial assistant at Ellie-Award winning magazine Budget Living and moved on to book publishing as an acquisitions editor at HarperOne, one of the world’s leading spirituality, health & lifestyle publishers. In January 2019, Jan joined Folio Literary Management as an agent and loves marrying her editorial background with her intuition for commercial viability while helping her authors craft the perfect proposal for the market. Jan’s interests as an agent are largely nonfiction, specifically spirituality, religion, self-help, health & wellness, parenting, memoir, and business with a spirituality or self-help angle. Jan is also open to allegorical fiction, but it must have a literary voice and an author with the writing credentials to pull it off. Genres Jan has represented include Non-Fiction, Cookbook, Memoir, Narrative Non-Fiction, Prescriptive Non-Fiction, Spirituality, Religion, Parenting, and Humor.
Scribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?
Jan Baumer: I adapt to each individual author’s communication style and needs. Every relationship is different, so I show up in whatever way my client needs me. After a book is sold to a publisher, I like to remain heavily involved in the process. I’m invested in my authors long-term careers and want them to feel as supported as possible throughout the entire process.
Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author?
JB: I look for authors who are measurable experts in their field — i.e. impressive credentials, bylines, or large platforms.
Scribe: What’s one piece of advice you find yourself giving to others time and time again?
JB: If your motivation to write a book is to make a lot of money or become famous, you’re in the wrong business.
Scribe: What excites you the most about the publishing industry today?
JB: What was once an incredibly NY-centric industry has been forced over the last two years to open up to the idea that people can do great work in publishing outside of New York. It’s my hope that this trend will continue even after offices in Manhattan are open again.
Scribe: Tell us about a recent book/project that you worked on that excited you and you want everyone to know about?
JB: That’s like asking a parent to pick a favorite child! There are too many and each project holds a special place in my heart. My next project to go on sale is James Beard Award–winning Washington Post columnist Tamar Haspel’s TO BOLDLY GROW being published by Putnam in March. It’s gotten excellent review buzz and is a hilarious account of Tamar’s (mis)adventures on Cape Cod as she and her husband Kevin try to figure out what it means to eat first-hand food. It’s a fantastic read!
Click here for more information on the 2022 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 24-26) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.