Cheeky literary agent, dumped by Nanny Diaries gals, laughs all the way to own firm, stockpiles high-profile clients
Some in publishing may still think of 31-year-old Christy Fletcher as the literary agent who discovered the Nanny Diaries authors, convinced them to turn their baggy memoir into a novel, sold it, then was unceremoniously dumped once the book hit the best-seller lists.
But Ms. Fletcher, who opened her own agency over Labor Day, is fast putting the Nanny saga behind her. “It happened, it exploded, it was huge, we moved on,” the vivacious, no-nonsense agent said. Her current clients, like Daniel Mason (The Piano Tuner) and Ken Kalfus (The Commissariat of Enlightenment), “are much more important to me than The Nanny Diaries moving forward,” she said.
Besides, Ms. Fletcher came out of the Nanny break-up with the rights to 15 percent of all future grosses of the book, plus a stake in film, audio and foreign editions. That came in handy when she decided to make her own run for daylight, starting Fletcher and Parry with fellow agent Emma Parry. “It’s hard to imagine doing anything else once you work for yourself,” Ms. Fletcher said.
The two work in a charming carriage house just east of Union Square. “It’s very British,” Ms. Fletcher said. As is Ms. Parry-and about a third of the agency’s list comes from its non-exclusive relationships with London agencies.
Ms. Fletcher’s authors include Don Van Natta Jr., the New York Times reporter whose book on politics and golf, First Off the Tee, has sold 70,000 copies so far, and frisky, feisty ABC News political correspondent Jake Tapper. Ms. Fletcher also just sold a fantasy-baseball book by her husband, Sam Walker, a sports columnist for The Wall Street Journal. They live in the meatpacking district.
“I seem to have these books that are hard to sell and then end up doing incredibly well,” Ms. Fletcher said. “I’m never scared away by a small advance, because you never know what can happen.”
Ms. Fletcher said she keeps her client list small so she can give each book her all. She’s unfazed by the glut of young agents prowling about for talent these days. “You find that you kind of go up against the same people again and again for clients,” Ms. Fletcher said. The key, she said, is to stand by your writers and maintain a good rapport with editors. “We get a lot of referrals from editors,” she said. Word gets around “if they know you’re taking good care of your clients.”
“I think I’m a decent editor,” said Ms. Fletcher, who studied at the University of Southern California. “If they want to give me my own imprint at Penguin, I wouldn’t even have to think about it. But I really like being on the outside of the bureaucracy and helping authors navigate their way through it.”