Agent Spotlight – John Talbot of The Talbot Fortune Agency

John Talbot has over twenty-five years of book publishing experience as an editor and literary agent. As an agent, he has placed books at all of the major publishers and their imprints. His clients include New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and ABA Indiebound bestsellers, as well as several winners of national literary awards. He is a member of the AAR/AALA.

Prior to becoming an agent John spent over a decade with Pocket Books and Putnam Berkley (now part of Penguin Random House). At Putnam Berkley he rose to the rank of Senior Editor where he had the honor of working with such global bestsellers as Tom Clancy, W.E.B. Griffin, and Jack Higgins, as well as then-rising literary stars such as Tom Perrotta. He edited dozens of national bestsellers and several New York Times Notable Books. He began his editorial career at Simon & Schuster.

John received his B.A. in English Composition from DePauw University and spent semesters at Washington University in St. Louis and Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan. After graduating from college he lived in Japan and traveled the Pacific Rim before settling in New York to work in book publishing.

Check out The Talbot Fortune Agency at their website here:  and follow their submission guidelines here:

Categories John is most interested in representing:


Thrillers, domestically-set suspense, suspense with Western themes and settings, crime novels, and mystery series with bestselling potential. I look particularly for authenticity, a strong and engaging voice, good pacing, and, most of all, a singular protagonist who grabs my attention from page one.

Some favorite authors who are non-clients include CJ Box, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Nelson DeMille, Craig Johnson, Walter Mosley, and Louise Penny. Favorite individual titles include Mystic River, Cemetery Girl, Eye of the Needle, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and November Road.

Women’s, Southern, and literary fiction:

I’m looking for authors with distinctive voices who convey a sense of authenticity and who write with conviction; strong characters, especially those who are resilient in unique ways; and well-constructed plots to keep the pages turning. I am especially interested in those who can bring a fresh take, a different background, voice, style or structure to the pages.

Some recent favorite works by non-clients include S.A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland, Leah Hampton’s F*ckface, David Joy’s When These Mountains Burn, and David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s Winter Counts.


I’m looking for sports narratives and biographies, immersive journalism, unique histories, and pop science. I want to see a stance on a given topic, answers to the “why” of the book’s premise, perspective, and what I call the “whole life” in terms of biography and history.

Friday Night Lights, The Monk of Mokha, The Revenge of Analog, and The Shallows are examples of nonfiction that have stayed with me. Joan Didion is my touchstone for craft.

If you are not sure if I handle your kind of writing please do send me a query, as I work in a variety of areas and am open to many types of manuscripts. A cycle through the cover cascade on the Home Page might help to give you an idea of what I like to do. There are no absolute necessities except for an author’s passion, a desire to develop one’s craft, and the goal of communicating through words.

Agent SpotlightWriting Craft

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Error: Contact form not found.