A Literary Agency Continues to Grow in Brooklyn
This is my site Written by Alex on November 11, 2010 – 9:03 am   

The agent who represents me, Joy Tutela at the David Black Agency, has moved to Brooklyn. See NYT story below. I lived in Brooklyn as a kid,. I climbed trees in Prospect Park, played army in the hills with my brother and friends, and I LOVE Brooklyn. Plus I have aunts, uncles and cousins in Brooklyn who are some of the best people who ever lived so for me, this is a good omen as my memoir, Stealing Norman Mailer’s Dog, is being circulated to publishers around town right now.

No Bridge Too Far: Literary Agents Move to Brooklyn

Ruby Washington/The New York Times

The literary agent David Black at his new Brooklyn offices.

Published: November 10, 2010

When David Black contemplated moving his 21-year-old literary agency to a new office space this summer, he had one nagging worry: the East River.

“Would that be a problem?” Mr. Black said, pointing to the river from his 27th-floor office window, which boasts sweeping views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. “Is water a barrier to clients? Is it a barrier to the business? That was really the question.”

Mr. Black, 51, has taken his literary agency to Brooklyn, a move across the river that few literary agents in the Manhattan-centric publishing industry have dared to make.

His nine-person agency, which represents heavy hitters like Mitch Albom, Jimmy Breslin and Erik Larson, set up shop in July across the street from Borough Hall in downtown Brooklyn.

Mr. Black has joined a few other literary-agent refugees from Manhattan, along with tiny boutique agencies that were founded in Brooklyn, not to mention the scores of writers, new independent bookstores and small but renowned publishers that are based there.

Susan Golomb, the agent to Jonathan Franzen and William T. Vollmann, moved her agency to Brooklyn in August after 20 years in Manhattan. “My clients don’t care where my office is,” she said. “At this point, if you’re established enough, it’s really about your list and your reputation.”

These days Brooklyn has enough writers and publishing professionals to inspire a “Brooklyn Literary 100” list in The New York Observer, or to be called Manhattan’s Left Bank in The Economist.

“There’s an inexorable drift toward Brooklyn,” said Elyse Cheney, a literary agent who, for now, is based in SoHo. “That’s where writers are and where so many publishers live. And as the profits of the business may change through the advent of e-books, the profit margins in this industry are becoming narrower, so I would imagine that it makes both financial and artistic sense to move there.”

It used to be unthinkable that a decent literary agent would work anywhere but Manhattan. The publishing business was concentrated in fancy Midtown office towers until the 1980s, when many publishers moved to lofts and landmark buildings downtown, in SoHo, Chelsea and the Flatiron district. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, one of the publishing pioneers in Union Square, used to warn employees not to walk across the park after dark.)

“When I first started out in this business, you had to be a Manhattan agent,” said Howard Morhaim, whose two-person agency works out of a brownstone in Brooklyn Heights. “It didn’t matter where. You just had to have a Manhattan office. Agents who were outside of Manhattan were considered second class.”

When Mr. Black founded his agency in 1990, he found office space near Madison Square, then later moved a few blocks downtown, where even more publishers and agents had relocated.

But last year, while out for a run in Red Hook, he was hit by a car, an accident that left him with a concussion, a broken thumb and a broken leg. While he was recovering, he traveled to work in a car instead of the usual subway.

“In not taking trains for a month, I realized how much more relaxed I was,” Mr. Black said. “So I said, let’s look in Brooklyn. Let’s see if we can make this work.”

The lease in his Manhattan office was up at the end of June, so he began hunting for office space in Brooklyn, a short walk from his home in Cobble Hill. The rent in a high-rise in downtown Brooklyn was slightly less expensive than in Manhattan. And the city offered him tax incentives: $3,000 per employee annually, for 12 years.

Three of Mr. Black’s employees already lived in Brooklyn, so they were thrilled to make the move. A couple of others, who live in the Bronx and Jersey City, were not as happy. (Mr. Black usually takes a silver Razor scooter to work, an easy feat on uncrowded Brooklyn sidewalks.)

So far the extra distance from Manhattan has not affected his clients, many of whom live outside of New York anyway.

“I thought that ultimately, this would be a good thing for my business,” Mr. Black said. “It’s a little bit different. Hopefully some people look at it and say, ‘Hey, that’s kind of cool.’ ”

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