Ted Weinstein is a fierce proponent of the Bay Area’s literature scene. He is also good at getting the authors he represents to finish their manuscripts. His methods are a trade secret, but let’s just say both carrots and sticks are used. And he was kind enough to submit to an SFist interview.
You are described (by yourself among others) as "one of SF's best, coolest, funniest lit'ry agents"...why would they say this?
Because I pay them. The current administration has demonstrated how
important it is to fund good stories about oneself in the media...
Is it true?
Welllll, I do think I have the best job in the world and it was a good fit as soon as I started - I work with all these talented authors writing books about all kinds of fascinating topics. One of my roles is to keep them adequately supplied with caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, or whatever else it takes so they can actually finish their books. We seem to have fun together along the journey.
How did you decide to focus on Non-Fiction for Adults?
It's fun to shock my parents by telling them I work in "adult media," plus this way I can read novels just for fun, without having to analyze and evaluate.
Who is the "author who got away"?
They never get away - I keep clients chained in my basement, away from all distractions, working diligently on their book proposals or manuscripts.
What's your take on the literary scene in San Francisco/ Bay Area?
Best in the country. New ideas and voices need to get validated by the national media outlets eventually, most of which are centered in NYC, but fresh perspectives rarely spring up in that small, provincial town east of the Hudson River. SF has been a magnet for inventive, creative people for centuries and the literary scene out here (authors, editors, agents, publishers) is breathtakingly wonderful. We will tell our grandchildren about this golden age.
Do you write yourself?
Hi, my name is Ted - I'm a recovering writer. ("Hi, Ted") I used to be a music critic for All Things Considered and the Chronicle, and late last century I took a year off to write a book, from which I conclusively learned I belong on the business side of publishing.
Any advice to the struggling writers out there?
Treat your writing like a real career. Hard work, discipline and professionalism are what separate successful authors from the otherwise talented writers who are just sitting in cafes kvetching that they aren't succeeding.
Tell us the war story that makes you the most proud?
Hmmm, maybe the time I took on a new client (www.skepdic.com) and sold his book () to an editor who had turned it down two years earlier when the author pitched it himself, or maybe the client (www.bobwelch.net) who had been turned down by 27 other agents before I saw the potential in his project and got him a deal with a major publisher as well as a recent movie deal (American Nightingale).
Which of your authors should we be looking out for?
All of them, of course! Several with great books that were recently published are NPR's "Math Guy," Keith Devlin, author of THE MATH INSTINCT, a fun book for non-math people all about the innate math talents of all kinds of animals (including humans), and Craig Conley, whose ONE-LETTER WORDS: A DICTIONARY is an amazingly fun treat for Scrabble players or any word nerd, all about the 1,000+ definitions of the 26 letters in the alphabet.