THIS BUSINESS OF BOOKS
A Complete Overview of the Industry from Concept through Sales
Literary scouts are essentially consultants who advise their foreign-publisher clients and film/TV connections about American and international books currently available for publication, translation, or broadcast adaptation. Dubbed “the royal court to the book-publishing kingdom,” by Shawn Coyne, former acquisition editor and founder of Story Grid, literary scouts play an intricate part of traditional publishing’s big picture by generating excitement for properties about to be or already in the submission cycle. They are constantly on the lookout for whatever will be the next big book. They enjoy close, or at least working, relationships with a host of literary agents and acquisition editors from whom they receive and to whom they pass promising properties.
According to Coyne, scouts are “gossip mongers, for good or ill.” Most authors don’t know about them; certainly those who choose to keep their hands on the reins at all times would not have occasion to learn about them. But Publishing Trends puts out a list of the current literary-scout individuals and organizations each year, each of which has up to ten associates and all of whom can have a real influence on title auctions, preemptive deals—wherein a publisher makes a large offer on a title to remove it from auction—media energy, and even Hollywood sales.
Scouts “work the streets” in New York City, the heart of the book business in the United States. They constantly read and evaluate properties so they can spread the word about hot projects to acquisition editors and sometimes even literary agents. Bottom line, they are the ultimate industry insiders.