John has been invaluable to my career as a professional writer. Because he took the time to get to know me as a person, and to read my books and get to know them, he has represented me well in the industry of writing and publishing. With so many people publishing books, it is increasingly difficult to get noticed, let alone prove that your writing is worth someone’s valuable time. It’s nearly impossible to go anywhere without a professional agent. John is a professional agent, and an outstanding one at that. I was picked up by a publisher soon after he began pitching my novel Twenty-Four Shadows. I highly recommend working with John Sibley Williams to advance your career.
– Tanya J. Peterson, author of four critically acclaimed and award-winning novels
John Sibley Williams is a human being, not an Agency with a capital A. He is personable and engaged, and he gives you honest assessments of your work that show he’s actually read it. When I hired John as the agent for my novel, Hagridden, I felt confident we might get places together. And when I saw his first market analysis, I knew I’d made a good decision—the man knows his markets.
This was all what I’d hoped for. But when I read his first pitch and promotional material for my book, I realized I’d lucked into so much more. In his queries, John demonstrated an ability to cut through all the text of my manuscript and find the beating heart of it. He understood things I barely dared to whisper to myself, and he found a way to express them in pitches and summaries that were at once glowing and matter-of-fact, the very tone I’d always found impossible when I tried to write these things myself. He approaches his work with the mind of a poet and a lover of the written word, and he pitched my novel not just as a book he was trying to sell but as a book he wanted to share with the world.
The toil of submitting work on your own is like grinding teeth in your sleep: headache-inducing wear that erodes your confidence to a throbbing nub. Thanks to John’s excellent work, not only has Hagridden found a home at a small press, but also, I have maintained—even improved—my confidence in my work.
– Sam Snoek-Brown, author of Hagridden
You might think that a literary agent who works by the hour would have little motivation to place your book, since the more hours he works on sending your book out, the more money he makes. And, were you working with some other for-hire agent, you might be right. However, for my first book I worked with both John Sibley Williams as well as a high-powered agent at a prestigious agency, and John was the agent who found a home for my book. In one case, both of them sent the same book to the same small press, but only John was able to procure a request for the full manuscript. Not convinced? I have two colleagues who also asked John to represent their work, and John has placed all three of our books. Do you know any other agent with a 100% success rate? Wouldn’t a book contract six months from now be preferable to years of near-misses with contests? Send John your book, friends. I can’t offer any better advice.
– Megan Gannon, author of Cumberland
John Sibley Williams made the publication of my first novel a reality quicker than I would have thought possible. I had my manuscript turned down by two New York City agents and began to wonder if what I had written was worthy of being published—the worst thing for any writer is self-doubt. But within six months of working with John, I had an offer on the table. I could not believe my eyes when I opened the email. Appropriately enough, he sent me the news while I was at a writer’s conference. John’s expertise at writing query letters, pitches, and synopses—not to mention his ability to navigate the vast publishing world and find a publisher who is a fit for a particular manuscript—makes him an incredible asset for any writer hoping to have their work published. You might think my experience is singular, but many of my colleagues from graduate school have also benefitted from John’s insights, connections, and knowledge. We have collectively decided to erect the John Sibley Williams Annex on the campus of our Alma Marta, a nice Edwardian library filled with all the books he helped publish.
– Penn Stewart, author of Fertile Ground
I heard about John Sibley Williams through a friendly independent literary conference in the southeast. At this conference, we may meet someone at a dinner table over gulf seafood, which is how I happened to meet someone who’d just found out his book had been accepted for publication. As we writers know, this moment is a huge win for a writer, just to get a book taken.
So we all toasted the writer, and I asked the details of the publication. He told me it was a niche market book—literary history—and that his agent had found the right independent publisher for him.
“He’s a nice guy,” the writer said of his agent, John Sibley Williams. “And a poet in his own right.” And these understatements, I’d say. John is making waves in the poetry community with his own work.
As an agent, you could not ask for a better person. I contacted John, who was thorough, honest and perceptive. He placed my second novel within a year. I’d tried this particular publisher years before with another book that it turned down. This time, because of John’s keen way of submitting with the right details and a good cover letter, the book was taken.
I’ve recommended John as an agent to other writers who are talented and perhaps weary of submitting, weary of mainstream agents, or not their own best advocates for “the pitch,” or who are just not knowledgeable about the behemoth that publishing can be. John is savvy and sensitive, a rare gem in this world.
– Dr. Mary Jane Ryals, author of Cutting Loose in Paradise
I’m 67 and have been publishing in journals and anthologies since my mid-20’s. I also have a string of chapbooks to my name, all from small presses. But landing a publisher for a full length collection just wasn’t happening. The manuscripts I’d entered in contests had done well sometimes, but never well enough. And I didn’t know how to approach small press editors on my own, regarding a full length poetry manuscript. Then two friends recommended working with John. I knew he was an agent and a poet but didn’t know he was an agent for poetry! I had never heard of such a creature. I looked at the testimonials on his website, hired him, and within a couple of days he was submitting queries and copies of the manuscript for me. Two months later our goal was met. Besides all this, he’s a delight to work with. Warm, friendly, confident, positive, and realistic. An unusual combination of traits, in my experience.
– Marjorie Power, author of Seven Parts Woman
John is a wonderful resource for writers looking to get published with a reputable press. He is supportive, responsive, and extremely knowledgeable about the marketplace. I have used his services and have recommended him to others. In addition, John offers excellent advice for marketing your work. That was a bonus!
– Trish MacEnulty, author of The Pink House
Anyone fortunate enough to have John Williams navigate the super-competitive world of book sales for them may leave the helm to him with complete confidence. As my marketer, he scheduled a signing tour that put me, a newly-published first-time author, in the biggest bookstores in the Pacific Northwest. Pulling out all the stops, he then secured me a featured-speaker engagement at the award-winning Nye Beach Writers Series in Newport, OR, and followed that by arranging a conference appearance at the Central Oregon Writers Guild’s conference in Bend, OR. John is a real 3D asset; he’s dedicated, he’s diligent and he delivers. On top of all that, he’s also real nice guy; a real bookselling proposition.
– Wallace J. Swenson, author of Morgan’s Pasture
John is a superb publicist and literary agent. In short order he has lined up readings to promote my new book and has given me myriad helpful suggestions about how and where to publicize my work. John is a consummate communicator. He’s always quick to respond to any communication and his responses are always thoughtful, upbeat, encouraging, clear and articulate. He’s a pleasure to work with, and it’s a relief for me to know that my work is getting out there in the larger poetry demimonde far faster than it would if I were promoting it myself.
– Leah Stenson, author of Heavenly Body
I’m an editor and freelance writer myself, but when it came to marketing my fiction manuscript and selling myself, I hit a wall. Working with John Sibley Williams was not only helpful, but educational and enjoyable. His book summary, marketing plan, and query letter for my manuscript demonstrated depth, professionalism, and keen insight into the publishing industry. His words gave me the jump-start I needed to reach out to nationally known agents and publishers with confidence.
– Katey Schultz, author, editor, publicist
When John Williams first contacted me in late 2009, I responded with an invitation to meet and discuss Ink & Paper Group’s internship opportunities. Little did I know how positively that invitation would affect our young publishing company. In short, John is one of those rare people you wish you could hire on the spot and keep forever.
As editorial director and operations manager of Ink & Paper Group and publisher of our literary imprint, Three Muses Press, I look for certain attributes in prospective interns and employees. From our first meeting, it was apparent that John would be a joy to work with. I appreciated his quietly impressive “let’s get things done” style, and I loved the positive attitude and sharp sense of humor that went along with it. As a publishing assistant, he approached every assignment with enthusiasm and proved true my initial impression of his competence. His writing and reviewing skills are first-rate, and his already solid editing, management, and marketing skills steadily improved while working with Three Muses. His official internship took place during summer term 2010, after which I retained his services as a marketing consultant.
John has been the driving force behind the successful execution of a complex marketing plan for Three Muses’ June 2010 release, Morgan’s Pasture, a young adult novel by Wallace J. Swenson. John’s excellent communication skills and dedication to this book inspired glowing feedback from the author, booksellers, event coordinators, and media representatives. He is a self-motivated team member whose contributions have enhanced Three Muses’ reputation and improved our everyday business operations. His work is top-notch and highly valued.
I strongly recommend John for consulting contracts or employment anywhere within the world of words.