Friday, May 4, 2012

Meet Our Agents- Jeff Ourvan of Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency, LLC

Today Christina Farley's agent, Jeff Ourvan of the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency, LLC., will be sharing with us. He is currently shopping Christina's young adult novel, GILDED.

Agency Website
Publisher's Marketplace
Author Website

MiGs: Why did you become an agent?

Jeff: I’ve had a diverse career as an attorney, a communications consultant and a writer/editor and believed that working as a literary agent would be the perfect way to merge these various skills.

MiGs: What made you pick your very first client?

Jeff: He wrote I book that I would have bought and read.  Also his work, which was nonfiction, told an important and unique story about Middle Eastern culture and politics, and I felt it was potentially marketable.

MiGs: Of the most recent 100 queries you received from writers, how many did you accept as clients? (rough guess)

Jeff: Less than one.  Perhaps one out of the last 200.

MiGs: What is an ideal client?

Jeff: An author who writes well (of course), who knows his or her market, who’s open to editorial criticism, who responds quickly, who is generally polite, and who fully shares in the endeavor to sell his or her work.

MiGs: What is one piece of typical writing advice you think should go out the window?

Jeff: In general, any sort of advice that presumes to apply to all writers is suspect.  Everyone is different, everyone has a different style and approach.  One thing I used to hear a lot that definitely isn’t true is that you have to write everyday in order to be a good writer.  I think it’s more important to live a courageous and interesting life everyday in order to be a good writer.

MiGs: Do you read the query letter first or the sample pages?

Jeff: Always the query.  I don’t even get to the sample pages if the query hasn’t grabbed me.  And sometimes I don’t finish the query if the first paragraph hasn’t already intrigued me.

MiGs: What is one common misconception that inexperienced writers tend to have about agents?

Jeff: Hmm.  That we’re all handsome and glamorous?  I guess a misconception that I sometimes run into is that I ought to be able to tell a writer precisely what sort of book, or genre, will be the next big thing.  The truth is that publishing anything is a challenge right now.  Writers should write what they want to write, what’s in their hearts.

MiGs: What is something people might not know about you?

Jeff: I’ve been to all 50 states!

MiGs: What’s on your wish list?
Jeff: Thrillers, mysteries, nonfiction sports, nonfiction in general, literary YA.

Check out Jeff's newly released book: HOW TO COACH YOUTH BASEBALL SO EVERY KID WINS


  1. Thanks, Jeff, for the interview and I like the "so every kid wins" in your book about baseball. There were a few stories of parents getting into fights because of supposedly bad calls by the umpire. Hopefully your book's section "dealing with parents" is also about talking to parents to be less competitive about pressuring their kids to win in youth baseball, and just allowing them enjoy playing the game. Good luck with the book.

  2. Thank you Jeff and all our agents for the interviews this week! Now I can't wait to finish the book I'm working on and start sending out queries.

  3. I love Jeff’s comment, “I think it’s more important to live a courageous and interesting life everyday in order to be a good writer.” I may print that up and post it over my computer and around the house. That sentence could end in so many ways, “. . . to be a good teacher”; “to be a good partner”; “to be a good friend.” Thank you.

  4. Giora- I agree! The other day we had a soccer game where one of the parents totally lost it because the coach didn't cut some of the not-so-great players (we are talking about 8 year olds here). That parent had no idea that a sport is so much more than the game.

    Jeanette- Yes, Jeff has been such a great sounding board to me and always gives excellent advice. He’s quick to answer emails, professional, and yet he totally makes me laugh. Besides, he does a great job at getting my work into the right editor’s hands. I feel so fortunate to be working with him.

    Thank you so much Jeff and to all the agents for such an awesome week. I loved the advice and honesty that you shared with us!

  5. Wow. Great interview and great series!


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