Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Literary Agent AND Executive Editor Gina Panettieri

Founded in 2003, Talcott Notch Literary is a rapidly-growing boutique agency representing the freshest new voices in both fiction and nonfiction. Their President and Executive Editor, Gina Panettieri has expertise in every aspect of writing and publishing and has helped thousands of writers achieve their goals. She has successfully placed hundreds of books with such well-known publishers as Berkley , St. Martin 's Press, Adams Media, Palgrave-Macmillan, McGraw-Hill, John Wiley & Sons and many others.

CIR: Where did the name Talcott Notch come from? It’s unique.

GP: Talcott Mountain is located in Connecticut, and Talcott Notch (on the mountain) is where my original office was located. The views are phenomenal for this area of New England, though probably nothing to compare with what you get in the Rocky Mountains!

CIR: How did you get into this business?

GP: I came in a different route than many agents. I was originally a writer with my own agent, but as more and more unagented writers who knew me from critique groups or organizations began to ask me to assist them with their contracts or to help them in finding a publisher, my role as agent took form rather organically. I suppose you could say it chose me rather than the other way around! Finally one day a rather prominent author sort of shook me and said 'Hey, all this work you're doing, that's a job, you know!' A short time after, I made it official.

CIR: You’re a classic film buff! Incidentally, I saw Casablanca for the first time over the holidays and was blown away. They just don’t make a lot of movies like that, especially today which leads me to this question. Do you think fiction in general is losing the ability to be innovative?

GP: I adore classic movies, and old-time radio shows like Suspense and The Whistler, as well. I think that those films and radio dramas, like Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre radio theatre and films, were innovative but reflective of the times. Citizen Kane was inspired by a major publishing figure of the period. Our fiction now is reflective of our times, but you would easily find its parallels in earlier periods. Isn't there a resurgence in interest in 'pulp' fiction, and a new appreciation for genres that 70 or 80 years ago were considered purely commercial? Now I see books written in the form of text messages, which is clearly taking fiction into a new era of language and communication. And we have books written from dogs' point-of-view, like THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein. No, we're not losing anything in terms of innovation.

CIR: Talcott Notch represents an impressive balance of non-fiction and fiction. Is this by design? I don’t think I’ve seen such dedication to both sides in many other agencies.

GP: Yes and no. It does work to help insure against market fluctuations. But it also happens I love everything. That might be a weakness. My husband gets annoyed because I can turn on the television and whatever is on, I can become instantly fascinated in. It could be The History of Salt and I'll be wrestling for the remote, demanding he leave it on. I was watching C-Span last night fighting sleep to learn about whether the Brookings Institute thinks we should cut the number of large flat-deck carriers in the Mediterrean to 10. Hubby's learned to work that in his favor but tuning it to UFC or ShoBox before hitting the power button. The same thing happens with manuscripts. I'm discerning about quality, but I'm an omnivore when it comes to subject matter. Teach me something I can't learn anywhere else and I'll be hooked. Tell me a story I haven't heard before. Introduce me to characters I'll find fascinating, even if they're not nice. But be authentic and be accurate. I'll know when you're not since I have an amazing array of experts in my little bag of tricks.

CIR: And we always have to ask a bizarre question. Would you write if you lived in the 18th century and could only use a quill?

GP: Yes, but I'd write laws. We needed to get out of the blocks a bit faster. I'd probably also write inflammatory political tracks and get myself hanged. Wait a minute, maybe.... no, I'd still do it. I can't keep my mouth shut now and wouldn't have been able to then. That's why I'm an author's advocate.

Thanks, Gina! Rock readers are invited to leave comments. Learn more about Talcott Notch Literary Agency at

Interview conducted by Gusto Dave Jackson


Anonymous said...

Gina's an awesome agent and friend. I'm blessed to have her in my life!
Beth Fehlbaum, author
The Patience Trilogy

Kristi said...

Great interview. I didn't know she was a writer, as well. That is a plus in my book!

Anonymous said...

In late 2009, Gina offered representation for my work. She has been able to get my paranormal western in front of some of the big publishers. No luck yet. She always encouraging and just a few weeks ago was able to get another read with a smaller press. Fingers are crossed here.

Kevin Wolf-RMFW member

Anonymous said...

Kevin Wolf's book definitely qualified under the 'tell a story I've never heard before' category. It's an amazing tale, superbly-written, like nothing else out there. I think its time has come!
Gina Panettieri

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kristi! I've kept my oar in with writing off an on. My most recent book was THE SINGLE MOTHER'S GUIDE TO RAISING REMARKABLE BOYS, which was published by Adams Media a few years ago (before I married Michael and officially lost my single mother's status). I'm marching to a different drummer in agenting since most agents write books about agenting or selling books and I write a study on boy behavior and successful single parenting. But it fit my life at the time and actually helped me keep my nonfiction editing skills sharp.
Gina Panettieri
Gina Panettieri

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Beth! Anyone who is unfamiliar with Beth's YA work in her PATIENCE Trilogy is really missing some intense, raw and moving fiction.

j. a. kazimer said...

Great interview, Gina. Thank you for sharing. I'm sure it's only a matter of days until Kevin's book sells. We RMFW are damn good writers. :)

Karen Duvall said...

Thanks for sharing your interview answers with The Rock, Gina (that's my sister's name, btw). I concur with the agented writers who commented that having a good agent can make all the difference to your career. Having a pro on your side to offer encouragement and support, as well as expert guidance, is a priceless benefit no writer should be without. In my opinion, of course, which is based on my experience with my own agent. Literary agents rock! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, J.A. and Karen! You all do an amazing blog, and you're right, there's a lot of gold in them thar hills! Next I need to get out there in person!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks for the excellent interview, Dave. And many thanks to you, Gina, for sharing. You'd definitely love the Colorado Gold Conference.

Marilynn Byerly said...

Before you submit to this agent, I strongly suggest an online search of her.

One good resource is

I have personal experience with her as a client, and I will be happy to talk privately with anyone who has questions. Contact me at marilynnbyerly @ (Remove spaces)

Anonymous said...

LOL, Marilynn, you need to learn to make a link! Yes, I did represent Marilynn briefly more than twenty years ago when I was a baby agent. On the Talcott Notch website are links to my published clients' websites, where interested writers can check out their books, or ask them about how I work with them.

Gina Panettieri