Thursday, March 07, 2013

Foreword Literary Debuts

For further information contact:
Laurie McLean,, 650-922-0914
Pam van Hylckama Vlieg,, 408-836-5351
Gordon Warnock,, 916-549-5864


New agency to concentrate on traditional and emerging aspects
of book publishing for their author-clients

March 5, 2013—San Francisco Bay Area—A new literary agency was formed today in California’s Silicon Valley…one focused on technology and innovation in addition to the more traditional aspects of publishing. Laurie McLean and Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, both former literary agents with Larsen Pomada Literary Agents, along with Gordon Warnock, formerly a senior agent at Andrea Hurst & Associates, have joined forces to create FOREWORD LITERARY, INC. with headquarters in the Silicon Valley and offices throughout the country.

“My background for more than 20 years before I entered publishing was in high tech marketing,” McLean said. “So in 2008 I recognized the emergence of Smashwords, Kindle, self-publishing, and ebooks, as a disruptive force that would revolutionize the publishing industry. I’ve seen this type of transformation many times before, and I know how to take advantage of the opportunities that are cropping up everywhere. This is where I want to make a difference for authors and publishers.”

Foreword Literary will be a virtual agency with professionals in the San Francisco Bay area, Sacramento, Chicago and the Central Coast of California to begin with. But geographic limitations will be swept away through the use of cloud-based technology.

“Like the name says, Foreword Literary was created to move our clients’ careers and publishing forward. We keep abreast of all current and upcoming technology and plan to utilize every aspect of publishing to our clients’ favor, be it print, digital, or the newest thing since Gutenberg that hasn't been invented yet,” said van Hylckama Vlieg.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling YA fantasy author Julie Kagawa, who landed three seven-figure deals while McLean’s client, will make the move to Foreword, as will 24 of McLean’s clients, 23 of van Hylckama Vlieg’s clients, and all of Warnock’s clients.

Warnock said, “I'm excited about what this means for our clients. We all have writing backgrounds, and we bring that passion and understanding to each of our projects. We're also very aware that we can only be successful when our clients are successful. We've created an environment that is conducive to building promising writing careers, and I honestly think they'll be some of the best served in the business.”

About Foreword Literary

Foreword Literary, Inc. is a new hybrid literary agency, blending the knowledge and skills of traditional publishing with the brash new opportunities engendered by digital publishing, self-publishing, ebooks, and technology. Partners Laurie McLean, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, and Gordon Warnock are joined by assistant agents Danielle Smith and Jen Karsbaek, and interns Laura Cummings and John Hansen.  Visit the website, for more information. Or follow us on Twitter @forewordlit.


“Gordon’s support and attentiveness are positively unwavering; it has been his compassionate encouragement and unfailing literary expertise that have carried me through the arduous process of revising and pitching my manuscript. I can’t imagine where I would be without his guidance, and would never think of making a decision regarding my career without consulting him first. Gordon has many times over proven what an excellent agent, writer, reader, and editor he is. Above all else, he has become one of my dearest friends, and a welcome addition to my community of literary folk.”
Tanya Chernov
A Real Emotional Girl

“I’m so excited to be part of the launch of this exciting, new literary agency. From working with Pam and Laurie, I’ve learned that they understand our hugely changed and ever-changing publishing culture. I have great confidence that Foreword will be uniquely positioned to grow my career as an author on every level.”
 Jeffe Kennedy
The Twelve Kingdoms Series

"I honestly wouldn't have gotten where I am without super agent Laurie McLean."
Bestselling YA Author Julie Kagawa

From Gordon Warnock

I’m so excited about Foreword. I just had to say that right off the bat. There will be future blog posts offering tips on writing and publishing effectively, breaking industry news, client updates, and maybe even the occasional recipe (I bake like a mofo). But as for now, let’s wax philosophical and get into what drove me to become a founding partner at Foreword Literary.

Widely regarded as being one of this world’s most creative living minds, Thom Yorke once said, "Being looser in your thinking allows you to avoid fixed ideas." It should be news to nobody that publishing is changing. Quickly. What is being written is changing as is how it becomes a reality. When I first got into this business, self-publishing was a dirty word. You didn’t want to tell an agent that you’d self-pubbed because it meant you had failed. Back then, ebooks were nothing more than a novelty, often left out of publishing contracts altogether. The definition of a book was longstanding and very rigid, as was the agent’s approach to their job.

It’s amazing how far we’ve come and how publishing continues to evolve. Yet, I still see plenty of people – writers, agents, and publishers – approach this business as if it were the 1990s. That makes little sense to me. Today, we have unprecedented tools for reaching, building, and maintaining an audience. Debut authors can break out in exciting, new ways, and established authors have more career control than ever. Mobility is the norm, and authors are increasingly settling into where they fit best, rather than enduring less than optimal arrangements for the sake of just being published at all.

I find that thrilling because, for as long as there have been agents, that has been a vital part of what we do. Once we have a promising manuscript, we don’t just send it out to all publishers in a giant email blast. Our goal is to match it with the right editor at the right imprint at the right division of the right house, nothing less. We’re matchmakers, giving the manuscript its ideal fit.

My tendency has been to take this a step further, helping guide my clients into where they fit best in their particular market. I’d take a very hands-on approach, editing with them, coaching them on marketing and branding, helping cook up future projects, and essentially doing whatever I could to best set them up for success. But still I felt stifled. I was working within the classical description of an agent’s role in a publishing environment that was now screaming for more.

In that regard, connecting with Pam and Laurie was the best thing that could have happened to me. They view publishing critically. They share my vision of proactive evolution and attack it from different angles. They listen to new ideas and often have better ones by the time the speaker finishes. I can’t say enough about these brilliant, curious minds that keep me on top of my game and stimulate my own creativity.

In recent years, much attention has been paid to the fact that publishing is a business. As one who has made it my livelihood, I wholeheartedly agree. When you write, you create art, but when you publish, you create a product. Contracts are signed, services and payment are exchanged, and units are sold. With that in mind, as agents, we must not forget that our work has those artistic roots. Not exploring the business, not bending and shifting and reinventing it would be a betrayal of the art we shepherd.

So yes, I am excited, as are my clients. Foreword is exactly the kind of calculated exploration that publishing needs right now.

FastForeword by Pam

One of the main reasons Laurie, Gordon, and I started Foreword Literary was to build careers. We want to build our author’s careers, we want to be instrumental in finding new literary talent such as Danielle, and Jen, we want to be an incubator of publishing for a long time to come.

How do you build a brand?

Laurie says you write five books in the same genre. I say that now too. Five full-length books is kind of a big deal.

So how do you use the digital revolution to build branding in traditional publishing?

FastForeword will e-publish short fiction (10,000 to 20,000 words) and e-serials in the author’s genre to help build a brand. Separate from our agency so that all authors can benefit from the service, FastForeword has employed an editor, a publicist, and a cover designer to ensure your short fiction will find a fan base.
We also wanted this program to be as simple as possible. We offer a 70/30 split on all the money we collect for these short titles, all sub rights are held by the author, and the right to publish the story again reverts back to the author after two years.

I hope you are as excited about this branding venture as we are.

As the program gets started we are opening it to agents and published authors first. Please email your proposal and biography to and put your genre in the subject line. Then we can discuss the program in more detail.


Before I became a literary agent in 2005, I had previously spent 25 years in high tech marketing working with clients such as Apple Computer, Adobe Systems, Intuit, Hotmail and hundreds of other companies. It was a heady time in our culture with technological advances occurring at the speed of light. It also proved to me that technology can transform an industry, big or small, creating chaos, opportunity and excitement in its wake.

This was an important consideration for the formation of Foreword Literary, Inc.

I thought I’d left the crazy pace of the tech realm behind me for a more sedentary life in the slow-moving world of publishing. In fact, the agonizing pace of 18-24 months from contract to bookshelf was the most difficult part of the job for me. Then Smashwords, and Amazon’s Kindle eReader and KDP self-publishing service, debuted in 2008, and my dormant virtual tech-antennae sprang out of my head. I knew that publishing would never be the same again.

I spent thousands of hours over the years studying these new technologies. I could not prepare a conference presentation on this subject more than a day in advance because change was happening at such a rapid pace. It was (and still is) exciting. My passion was engaged. I started incorporating eBooks and self-publishing and new technologies into all my clients’ writing career plans.

And in the back of my mind I kept envisioning how a literary agency could emerge from this chaotic transition to embrace this change and use it to a writer’s best advantage.

It was very difficult to leave behind an agency with the longevity (40 years) and heart of Larsen Pomada Literary Agents. But I needed to blaze a previously undiscovered path if I was to build something entirely new.

I also knew that I needed amazing partners to make this company work. Pam van Hylckama Vlieg started off as my assistant and within 3 months it was crystal clear to me that she was destined to become a super literary agent. She became an agent after 3 months of rigorous training and in her first year sold 21 books. This is astounding success. And her love of technology and social media marketing rivals my own…perhaps even surpasses it! So Pam was the first person I approached once I’d made the decision to leave Larsen Pomada. Thankfully she saw the potential of my vision, and amped it up several megawatts with her own creative ideas. Pam is pure awesome. On steroids!

Gordon Warnock and I have known each other for 5 years. I am always encouraged by his thoughtful consideration, wonderful eye for nonfiction, droll sense of humor and the solid name he’s created for himself in the publishing industry in such a short time. Plus he is a culinary explorer par excellence. And that is an understatement. When I heard that Gordon might be looking to start the next chapter of his professional life, the timing was perfect, and we had to have him on board.

Together we are a triumvirate ready to take on the world. I can’t even imagine what we can accomplish together with our intelligence, experience and energy.

So what is Foreword Literary? We are a brand new type of author representative. Sure, we’ll sell books to publishers and sell subsidiary rights to movie studios, foreign publishers, magazines, audiobook companies, etc. But we’ll also work with a network of affiliates such as self-publishers, cover designers, app creators, web series developers, comic book producers, social media marketers, publicity experts, teachers, game designers, speaker bureaus, and many, many others to offer our clients a fully-fleshed world of possibilities for their creativity.

We would be lying if we said we know everything. We’re learning new technology, new procedures, new ways of doing business every single day. And that’s what keeps this fresh and exciting for us. Foreword Literary, as the name implies, is an endorsement of our talented clients and the direction in which our industry is moving. We applaud the pioneers who are revolutionizing publishing. Gutenberg would be proud. So would Steve Jobs.

Foreword is moving publishing Forward. Watch. This. Space.

For further information contact:Laurie McLean,, 650-922-0914
Pam van Hylckama Vlieg,, 408-836-5351
Gordon Warnock,, 916-549-5864

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