Agent Spotlight: Ethan Ellenberg

Sept. 23, 2019

Today we are pleased to feature agent Ethan Ellenberg of Ethan Ellenberg Agency and his service for authors, Royalty Reminder. Be sure to enter to win a golden query pass (have your query get to the head of the line) with Ethan or his associate Bibi Lewis.

Tell us about your background and how you came to agenting.

I'm a graduate of Queens College and my degree is in Philosophy.  My coursework was in essence a 'Great Books' program. I was an avid reader of everything growing up. College allowed me to read the great literature of Europe and beyond. I knew I wanted to enter book publishing when I graduated. My first job was at Berkley Books, then the paperback division of G. P. Putnam's Sons. I moved to Bantam next in the Contracts Department. I realized the best job for me was agenting, combining my interests in business with my love of books and their creators.

Are you open to submissions, and what types of books are you looking for?

We are open to submissions. The 'we' is myself, Bibi Lewis, Associate Agent who is energetically building her list, and Evan Gregory, the other Senior Agent at my office. We are interested in all genres. I would say Bibi would be best for non-fiction and picture books, though she covers all genres. My interests are more YA fiction. We really all do consider everything. Whoever loves a project will pursue it.

How would you describe your communication and working style as an agent?

I keep authors up to date, mainly by email. We share our submissions list and keep people updated. I will always answer emails and phone calls. It ebbs and flows based on what's going on.

What excites you about a manuscript?

 You have to love a book to represent it. You have to be fully captured by it. So whatever the book is you have to have that great enthusiasm, then you turn on the critical faculty. Where does it fit?Who would buy it? How much potential does this Author have? Can I do a good job directing them?

What common mistakes do you see in queries and manuscripts?

 I think you have to follow what I think is the basic professional format. A sales letter, never longer than a page. It should have 3 parts. The opening paragraph--the hook. What is this, why should I care? Make sure it shows I know my book and its audience. The second paragraph, the body, a bit more of the story and why it appeals. The third paragraph credentials or background. Anything other than this makes less sense to me. Everyone you show your work to is a busy professional, catch their eye or else.

You have started a program called Royalty Reminder for authors. Tell us about how it works, who it is for, and what benefits it provides.

Royalty Reminder grew out of my work managing the amount of contracts we have at the agency. I wanted a software that would inventory and manage, all of them, including giving us timely reminders of when royalty statements are due or when a license was expiring, so that's what we built. I cannot function without it.  It contains a scanned copy of every single agreement so we have a complete legal foundation for all our work.
We manage 6 literary estates so we see that over the course of a writer's life you have to record and track and manage everything you write, short story, novel, journalism. 

Royalty Reminder is the version we built to share with all Authors so that they can have what we have. With the advent of low-cost digital self-publishing and new formats like audiobook, podcast, short-form video and all the licensing opportunities that come along with them, authors have never had more opportunity to reach new audiences and make money. Also, it's important to remember that authors own their copyright for their entire life plus 70 years, so creators and their families have an eternity to take advantage of these opportunities. We are getting a very good response and we are now building what we call the 'Indie Suite', an expansion of the program that will be an enterprise version for Indie Authors so that they can produce, distribute, promote and license their books. It will be the complete, essential tool for the Indie Author to run their business.

Where can authors learn more about Royalty Reminder?

Any author interested in Royalty Reminder should go to our website,  There is plenty of information there. You can also reach out to me directly at ethan (at) royalty reminder (dot) com if you'd like to learn more. I'd be happy to talk with you.

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

Well, in the professional world, my continued pursuit of basketball glory with my long time friends is something that almost nobody knows. And I hope to keep it that way, this interview notwithstanding.

How can people query you?

The agency website, has submission guidelines which we hope everyone follows.  We remain as excited and committed to books as we ever have.

For anyone interested in Royalty Reminder we will provide two golden tickets of Ask Us Anything so that you can understand what you own and how to manage it.

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  1. Always interested in finding out more about kidlit agents. Especially since I've just started to query! Thanks for the opportunity! :)

  2. Always nice to meet new agents. Thank you for the opportunity.

  3. As a former engineer, I believe in automation. So, should I ever be so lucky as to need to keep track of royalties, I'm sold. That said, I accidentally started entering to win a query pass from Ethan, but I don't have a YA to query right now. I meant to just enter for Bibi. Not sure how to fix that, but I thought it might be helpful to know....

  4. Royalty Reminder sounds interesting. I'll check it out. Thanks!!

  5. Thanks, it's helpful to learn about the "behind the scenes" at this agency!

  6. I am not an author 'yet' but I saved your email for future reference. Good luck everyone!

  7. A *golden* opportunity. Thank you!

  8. It's interesting to learn how your agency is branching out.

  9. Royalty Reminder sounds like a wonderfully proactive invention!

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  11. What a great tool and a fabulous opportunity you are offering. Thanks so much!

  12. Thank you for this opportunity and for sharing the information about Royalty Reminder.

  13. Thank you for sharing your side of the business!

  14. Thank you for the golden query opportunity & for sharing your royalty tracking expertise.

  15. Great opportunity and interesting info!

  16. Such an amazing opportunity -- thanks for sharing with everyone. KidLit411 ROCKS!

  17. Thanks so much. I feel like Charlie Bucket in Willie Wonka hoping for a golden ticket.


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