Agent Friday: Jonathan Lyons

Literary agents seem to come from the editorial end of publishing, or the legal end. Jonathan Lyons has the law degree, and uses that background to help his clients navigate the confusing world of book contracts. He has his own agency, Lyons Literary, based in my hometown, New York City.

Lyons has a blog, which he maintained for four years. As of December 2010, his schedule demanded that he stop blogging, but Lyons keeps it online to benefit readers who come along. Here are some of the posts I really appreciate:

I like it when an agent explains terms and procedures that may seem basic to those in publishing. For those of us just learning the business, they're invaluable. For instance, Lyons gives a clear distinction between a galley, a proof, and an ARC, and explains the process of getting paid as a writer.

You'd expect an agent to have some opinions on querying. Lyons shares some tips on the query letter in Query 101. He answers the question, When Should You Query?, and gives advice for writers working on a biography to place in their query letters.

Two ongoing posts that were popular are Lyons "terms of the week" and "your questions answered". In terms of the week, Lyons defined some of the obscure and misunderstood words that are unfamiliar to those who don't have decades of experience in the publishing industry. Your questions answered is a great place for aspiring authors to hear an agent reply to frequently asked questions.

What questions are you wishing you could ask an agent? Post a comment, and I'll try to find an agent who has given the answer.


  1. I met him at a conference in Texas. During a quick round table pitch session, he was very kind to participants. He offered helpful suggestions.

  2. That's great to know, Stacy! It's always nice to be sure someone has a good personality, no matter how they present themselves online.




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