Lord of Publishing: A Memoir

Sterling Lord, Author
Sterling Lord. Open Road (www.openroadmedia.com), $16.99 trade paper (302p) ISBN 978-1-4532-7071-4
Reviewed on: 12/10/2012
Release date: 01/01/2013
Ebook - 310 pages - 978-1-4532-5463-9
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 310 pages - 978-1-4532-7073-8
Hardcover - 312 pages - 978-1-4804-8065-0
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A high-profile literary agent for 60 years, Lord’s roster of clients reads like a Who’s Who of postwar American belle lettrists. This chatty, enjoyable memoir provides the backstories for some of the more renowned authors and books whose success he helped to engineer, and through them, a tutorial on the mechanics of effective agenting. Recognizing the merits of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, the first novel submitted to him, Lord shopped the book around for four years until it found the right publisher—and instant literary immortality. He sold Judge John J. Sirica’s Watergate memoir, To Set the Record Straight, to the one publisher (Norton) that didn’t balk at waiving its contract’s indemnification warranty. He was instrumental in landing deals for Peter Gent’s North Dallas Forty and other sports-themed books because (in his opinion) he didn’t have the same disdain for athletics as most publishing literati. Lord attributes much of his success to his adventurousness and understanding that reader tastes shifted significantly after WWII: “Americans were becoming less parochial, more sophisticated.” Robert McNamara, Pierre Salinger, Jackie Onassis, Jimmy Breslin, LBJ, Ken Kesey, and others make cameos that support this contention, in stories about the books Lord landed and the ones that got away. Any reader interested in American literary culture of the last half-century will find something to savor. Agent: Peter Matson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Jan.)
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