News

DC’s 6 Most Powerful Book Agents

Photo by Freddie Marriage via Unsplash.com.

Donald Trump may not be much of a reader (“I don’t have the time,” he once told Megyn Kelly), but he has been a boon to local literary agents. Looking to sell that explosive political tell-all? Here are the powerbrokers to hit up.

1. Robert Barnett

Lawyer, Williams & Connolly

Latest successes: DC’s best-known book dealmaker negotiated Hillary Clinton’s What Happened.

In the works: James Patterson and Bill Clinton’s cowritten thriller, The President Is Missing; CNN anchor Jake Tapper’s debut novel.

Challenges of the job: “Ideas that sound great today may be out of date when the book is published.”

Fave DC book: Ward Just’s The Congressman Who Loved Flaubert.

2. Gail Ross

Agent, Ross Yoon

Latest successes: Joshua Green’s look at Steve Bannon; Van Jones’s bestseller Beyond the Messy Truth.

In the works: James Clapper’s Facts and Fears; Michael Isikoff and David Corn’s investigation of Trump and Russia.

Take on recent events: “I joke that George W. Bush put my kids through college and Donald Trump is paying for my retirement.”

Fave DC book: “I have so many!”

3. Keith Urbahn and Matt Latimer

Agents, Javelin

Latest successes: Donna Brazile’s Hacks; Senator Ben Sasse’s The Vanishing American Adult.

In the works: James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty.

Ideal writers: “People who don’t speak in political-speak and clichés,” says Latimer.

Fave DC books: Mark Leibovich’s This Town (Latimer); Richard Ben Cramer’s What It Takes (Urbahn).

4. Ronald Goldfarb

Lawyer, Goldfarb & Associates

Latest successes: Bernie Sanders’s Our Revolution; Jefferson Morley’s The Ghost, about CIA spymaster James Jesus Angleton.

In the works: Another by Sanders.

Words of encouragement: “This year, maybe more than any other, is so ripe for books about what’s going on. It couldn’t be a more opportune time for writers.”

Fave DC book: Charles McCarry’s spy thriller The Tears of Autumn.

5. Bridget Wagner Matzie

Agent, Aevitas

Latest successes: Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’s Shattered.

In the works: Kate Murphy’s You’re Not Listening.

The Trump effect: “I have had the most successful year of my entire career. Part of it is because of the election—people want to figure out what’s going on.”

Fave DC book: George Crile’s Charlie Wilson’s War.

6. Rafe Sagalyn

Agent, ICM/Sagalyn

Latest successes: David Ignatius’s thriller The Quantum Spy; Robert Wright’s Why Buddhism Is True.

In the works: James and Deborah Fallows’s exploration of middle America, Our Towns.

Advice for authors: “Great ideas, great thinking, and great writing—that’s the combination that we always look for.”

Fave DC book: David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest.

This article appears in the January 2018 issue of Washingtonian.

Get Washingtonian’s Daily DC Updates (Not Just Another Political News Roundup)

Questions or comments? You can reach us on Twitter, via e-mail, or by contacting the author directly:
Contributor

David Murrell, a former Washingtonian editorial fellow, is research editor at Philadelphia magazine.