Switching Gears

A wise man once said that the only constant is change. I didn’t know WHICH wise man said that, actually, so I Googled it. Turns out it’s a guy named Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher. Man, those guys got all the wisdom. Well, I could use some of that wisdom now as I spring yet another big Mary Kole move on my unsuspecting blog readers. (It’s not true that all of you are unsuspecting, I’ve been getting emails from some of you because I recently got listed as “Whereabouts Unknown” on QueryTracker.com. That’s a bit funny to hear about yourself from your couch in Brooklyn, where you definitely know you’re sitting at the moment. But I digress…)

From my silence here and in Publisher’s Marketplace, you probably have guessed that something is up. It is. After a great year with Movable Type, I have decided to get out of the literary agenting game. It has been a great six years since I first set out into the sparkly and dizzying world of the literary agent, from my first internship as a reader to my position as a Senior Literary Manager with a list of over twenty clients. In the last year or so, I have been finding increasing satisfaction in being a freelance editor. Working with writers one-on-one was and always has been my first love. All of my various roles in publishing, from conference presenter to negotiator, have fallen flat compared to that creative and satisfying calling of digging into a manuscript. Don’t get me wrong. Seeing a book on a store shelf that you have shepherded from its first draft is an indescribable feeling. But that work of honing the manuscript, that relationship I developed with its creator, those have almost always been more precious to me behind the scenes.

I want more time to do that. To roll up my sleeves and get into the nitty gritty with individual writers. I also want a sense of security and calm that a commission-based agenting job just can’t provide. I want to open a manuscript and focus on how to make it better instead of focusing on “Will this sell? And for how much? And what about my rent?” That probably takes some of the mystique out of literary agents for you, and for that I apologize, but it’s not the easiest way to make a living. And that’s especially unfortunate, since you are leading a portfolio of talented artists who count on you for their living, also. Freelance editing has allowed me to free myself up to once again function purely for the love of working with their manuscripts. What a wonderful feeling!

There are also some other big changes afoot. If any of you have been following the murky (I was aiming more for “mysterious” but so it goes!) details of my personal life, I’ve been rather taken with a certain man for a while. He’s a handsome and talented chef, and he’s pretty taken with me, too. It has always been his dream to move to his hometown and open a restaurant. Since I’m in the process of fixing up my own life to make my literary dreams come true, it’s only fair that we make his dream come true, too. In a few short weeks, in the dog days of August, my fiancé and I are relocating to Minneapolis. I’ve been studying wine on the sly for a year and a half and recently passed my Certified Sommelier exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers. When I’m not editing, we’ll be working together on bringing his vision to life. I couldn’t be prouder or more honored to be a part of that.

As for you, my faithful followers, I just want to express my undying gratitude. This doesn’t mean I’ll be shilling my editorial services every five minutes. Or talking about my book more than I have been. I’m looking forward to the pleasure of getting back into strict craft discussion here once a week going forward. After this move, I’ll have all of the pieces of my new life finally in place. Then the real work of serving the worldwide kidlit community–and the hungry local community–begins. Whew! I’ve never chosen the easy road but it’s the only thing I know. Thanks for sticking with me.

In the meantime, though, moving is expensive so…didya know that I now offer freelance editing services? 🙂

41 Replies to “Switching Gears”

  1. Priscilla Mizell says:

    I wish you all the best in these new adventures!

  2. Wow!!! I mean…..WOW!!!! Congrats and all the best in all of your new and exciting endeavors. Still hope our paths cross some day…..

  3. I can vouch for Mary’s incredible passion and expertise as a freelance editor, she really helped get me on the right road to perfect my MG book.

    Best of all to you Mary!


  4. So much good luck to you 🙂 Sounds like everything is falling into place. The wine “specialist” sound fabulous! take care, Lisa

  5. Ashley Pope says:

    Congratulations on your impending move and life change, scary as it is. And thank you for all you do and will continue to do for writers!

  6. Wow! Sounds like some amazing changes are happening for you. I wish you all the best in the future, Mary! And I hope someday to make use of your editing services! 🙂

  7. Best of luck, Mary! As the recipient of a full ms crit years ago through the Nashville flood benefit, I can attest to the eagle-eye you bring to a manuscript. My YA novel thanks you.

  8. Donna Earnhardt says:

    I think it is WONDERFUL that you are following your dream! WAY TO GO! Life is too short to stay in a place that isn’t working for you. I am happy for you and hope to hear more about your new life in the future!

  9. Wonderful! Sounds like you have some adventure planned – enjoy every moment.

  10. Change is good. You’re goning to have an awesome adventure. Now having kids. . . wait, one thing at a time. 🙂

  11. Hi Mary, love it that you are following your dream. That’s the way it should be. I am happy for you both in your professional decision and personal one. Wishing you loads of luck. Yep, the agenting world will lose an awesome agent, but that’s life. We can’t be selfish, so we have to let you go to catch your dreams and turn them into reality.

    If I could not fulfill my dream of having you as an agent, then maybe I will have you as my editor 🙂

  12. All the best to you on this new endeavor, Mary! It’s always a good thing to be chasing a dream.

  13. Lori Alexander says:

    How exciting, Mary! Just wanted to thank you for all the helpful posts over the years. My first PB sold last summer and I trace my good fortune back to your Writer’s Digest PB webinar as well as your encouraging comments on my manuscript. Best of luck on your new adventure!

  14. Catherine Johnson says:

    That’s very exciting news, Mary. You sure are a rolling stone that gathers no moss. Good luck with your new ventures. If I ever need an editor you are top of the list. Best wishes.

  15. Hey, maybe this means we get to work together again some time. 🙂 Congrats! Everyone I know from Minneapolis is so great. And I’m excited you found a fellow foodie to follow more dreams with.

  16. Greg Mongrain says:

    You’re already a whiz as an editor, Mary, so I know you’ll be a great success. It’s nice that you love what you do. Sounds like you’ve found paradise! Thank you for all the help on my first book. Have fun!

  17. Gerri Lanier says:

    * So exciting for you! Wishing you the best! Plus, thanks so much for your wonderful supportive posts throughout the years!

  18. Dan Stout says:

    Congratulations, Mary! All the best to you and your fiancé, in chasing your dreams both personal & professional.

  19. Congrats! Sounds like exciting new beginnings all over the place. Salut 🙂

  20. Joseph Miller says:


    Best Wishes to you and your fiance. 😉

  21. Your blog and your book have both been such a big help and inspiration–thank you!!

  22. Certified Sommelier, eh? Let’s see now: wine, good food and books… oh, and a loving man to share it all with as well! Sounds pretty dreamy to me.


    PS And I can also attest to Mary’s excellent editorial services. Worth every penny! (Or cent.)

  23. I hope your new direction bring you happiness, Mary. You’ll always hold a special place in my heart as the agent who sold my first book. Piper Lee and I thank you 🙂

  24. Days of wine and manuscripts–sounds good. Best wishes to you, and thanks for all the great advice you’ve given writers through this blog.

  25. Patti Buff says:

    Wow – big news!

    You’re heading off to my old neighborhood and trust me when I say that you’ll love Minneapolis. I hope to visit your restaurant when I’m there next summer visiting family and perhaps we can talk books. 🙂

    All the best on your new adventures and be sure to pack lots of bug spray.

  26. Congratulations x 3: Fiancee, Certified Sommelier, and move/career change. Big things afoot indeed.

    I think you’ll like Minneapolis. It is a terrific city for raising kids and has great museums. I go there 2 or 3 times a year for work (in fact will be there the week of August 19) and have a few good friends that live in the area.

    Good luck with the editing gig. Once the restaurant is established, let me know. Maybe I’ll host a dinner for my team there the next time we’re all in Mpls!

  27. Best of luck to you, Mary, in this new chapter.

  28. Best of luck, Mary! I love your craft discussions and I’m glad you’re going to stay around in that regard.

  29. Laura Goering says:

    I’m disappointed, because I recently sent you a query! But I wish you all the best and will look forward to enjoying a glass of fine wine at your new restaurant here in Minnesota.

  30. Sounds like an exciting venture! Good food and wine are two of my favorite things. Best of luck to you!

  31. Karen Clayton says:

    Busy times indeed. Best wishes!

  32. Thanks for sharing all this good news. How exciting.

  33. Best wishes, Mary! You are a shining star in the world of kidlit, and I am so glad you will continue to post!

  34. Hi Mary I want to wish you the best! Your blog has been a powerhouse of information for writers and I hope it continues to be in the future. Thank you so much for all yur advice, prompt responses, and frank postings over the years.

  35. Holy Smokes! I haven’t been on kidlit in a few months … Congratulations, Mary!!! I wish you the best of luck and an amazing new adventure. I still hope to use your freelance services one day. The Twin Cities is great! I’ve been in Missouri for a long time now, but I still miss Grand Ave and the St. Paul pubs — and good walleye!

  36. Congratulations and good luck with all of these exciting changes. I hope all goes well and you find great happiness! And I hope you keep up this blog, I love all your insightful advice.

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