Chris Richman here. After many months of consideration, I’ve decided to leave the book world. This isn’t a decision I make easily—for years I wanted to work in publishing, and it was a literal dream come true when I landed a job as a literary agent. I loved finding new talent, working with my clients, and sharing in their triumphs. I enjoyed connecting with writers across the country and the world, and being a part of people’s roads to success.

I’m especially proud to have worked with so many talented people over the years, from my wonderful roster of clients, to the editors who helped shape good stories into great ones, and especially to my colleagues both at Upstart Crow and Firebrand Literary way back when. The biggest debt I owe is to Michael Stearns, who served as a wonderful mentor for me when I was just starting, and now has become a friend. His guidance, sense of humor, and occasional tough love helped me in too many ways to count.

In the end, however, I’ve decided to seek a different route, and I’m happy to announce I’ve started a job in PR and marketing in Philadelphia, and look forward to a shift in careers.

Thank you to everyone who helped along the way, including the writers who shared their work with me. I wish I could have responded to every query more quickly, or signed more clients, or met more people at conferences. But hey, it was a pretty good run that I’ll remember fondly.

Best of luck to you all out there!

Chris Richman

A few years ago I was searching very hard for a gripping YA for boys, something with an authentic voice, issues teen boys could relate to, and a plot that grabbed me and didn’t let go. When author E.M. Kokie sent me the query and sample pages for her novel Personal Effects, I knew within five minutes of reading I’d come across something special. The voice was outstanding, the plot immediately grabbed me, and it took only a few days of reading the full story to realize I had to work with this author. I remember stepping off a plane on my way to an SCBWI conference, pulling out my phone, and emailing Kokie while still standing on the runway to say “I’m loving this book! Stay tuned!”

Nearly three years later, I’m happy to report my love of this novel is shared by others, as the response to Personal Effects book has been overwhelmingly positive. Just check out some of the great blurbs Personal Effects has received!

  • PERSONAL EFFECTS is one of the best novels I’ve read in a long time—it’s complex, moving, and beautifully written. I want everyone I love to read this book.” —Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award Finalist, Coretta Scott King Award winner, and Newbery Honor winner
  • “A fine addition to the literature of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” —Kirkus
  • Timely, passionate, and political, PERSONAL EFFECTS is a story that needs to be told. Heartbreaking and heart-opening at the same time. —James Howe, author of The Misfits and Totally Joe
  • “Well written and heartfelt, Personal Effects provides much to discuss after the covers are closed. . . . This title is highly recommended for teen readers.” —VOYA
  • “PERSONAL EFFECTS is a smart, rugged, hugely insightful book that elevates an already soaring genre. E.M. Kokie glides along that fine line between comedy and tragedy to tell a sensation story.” —Chris Crutcher, a Margaret A. Edwards Award-winning author
  • . . . Kokie has written a no-holds-barred contemporary YA novel that is right up there with my all-time favorites of the genre.” —Richie’s Picks

Finally, we just learned that PERSONAL EFFECTS earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly, who called it an “outstanding debut.” To read the complete review, HEAD HERE.

But you know where you should really head? To your local bookstore, so you can pick up a copy yourself! I promise you, this book will impact you, and is a great read for teens looking for challenging, gripping work. Grab a copy today!

So. The new Amazon publishing program.

Lots of folks are taking about this article in the New York Times.

I can see why it’s a very exciting prospect for new writers, or for writers with a lot of talent who have had trouble getting their work noticed under the more traditional model. Heck, it’s obviously exciting for the established–and bestselling–authors who are now publishing with Amazon.

I can’t see why this would make the need for an agent any less important. But obviously I’m quite biased in favor of agents.

I want to write more about it, but in the meantime, I’d like to hear from you.

Writers, both published and unpublished: How do you feel about the new publishing venture from Amazon? Does it change your view of what it means to “get published”? Is it more alluring than the “traditional model” to you, in terms of getting your work out there?  Does it make you feel like you need an agent any less than you would with a more traditional publisher? Discuss!