Meet Our Literary Agents

The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference features two opportunities to meet our literary agents. Writers can attend Unveiling the Mystery, where they have the opportunity to ask general industry questions of a panel of professionalsagents who know the secret to success. Or, come for Close Encounters of the Literary Kind, one-on-one meetings with literary agents that allow writers to ask questions specific to their project and talk about what really matters—their books!


Close Encounters of the Literary Kind

This is a remarkable opportunity for you to meet one-on-one with one of our literary agents for fifteen minutes to discuss your book ideas. Since our inception 10 years ago, our literary agents have secured major publishing contracts for dozens. Whether your ideas have been rendered into a formal proposal or are in the conception stage, you’ll find these sessions valuable. If your idea is well formed, we recommend you bring a one page synopsis of your book proposal to the session. A second session may be purchased upon request to Jo Ann Livingston, our writing contest coordinator. Jo Ann arranges appointment times for all conferees. You can view her contact information below.

The cost of each session is $50.


What to bring to the Close Encounters session

If writers are interested in participating, each should come prepared to verbally pitch his or her book project and bring supporting material.

  • One page biography, which should include why you are the best person to write the book
  • One to two page synopsis of your book idea. Our agents will give you an honest assessment, and offer suggestions for shaping your story into a proposal.

Unveiling the Mystery: Writing, Editing, and Publishing for the Literary Market

Writing a book and building a career in literary nonfiction publishing requires an understanding of the larger literary world – a Byzantine and mysterious world to most of us. What sort of ideas grab a nonfiction book editor’s attention? How do you shape that idea into a book proposal? Do you really need a literary agent to help you prepare and sell the proposal, or can you do it on your own? And if you need them, how do you get them interested in your book idea? A panel consisting of a book editor and several literary agents will address these questions and answer your own. Want to build a career in literary publishing? Your journey begins here.

This agent panel session is included in the price of your conference registration; it will be the first session on Saturday morning.




The Mayborn Conference will notify writers in advance by e-mail of the time and location for the consultation at the Hilton hotel. You will be reminded of your assigned time when you check-in at registration. Sign-up is available through online registration.

Jo Ann Livingston
Writing Contest Coordinator


Check out our Literary Agents and longtime Mayborn supporters:

Farley Chase Farley Chase
Farley Chase became a literary agent in 2002 after working at The New Yorker, the New Press, and as an editor at Talk Miramax Books. He founded Chase Literary Agency in 2012.

He lives in NYC with his wife, their dog, and is a graduate of Macalester College. He is a member of the AAR.
Jim Donovan Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan is the founder and president of Jim Donovan Literary, a literary agency in Dallas, Texas. Since starting the agency in 1993, he has sold hundreds of books for dozens of writers, negotiating publishing contracts with companies such as Bantam, Broadway, HarperCollins, Morrow, Henry Holt, Putnam, Random House, Simon & Schuster, St. Martin’s Press, Viking Penguin, Warner Books, Grand Central and many others. He handles both fiction (chiefly mysteries and thrillers) and a broad range of nonfiction (primarily American history, biography, sports, health, and popular culture).

Donovan’s agency also sells film, foreign, and all subsidiary rights, and many of his agented books have been optioned for film. He has guest-lectured and taught seminars on the craft of writing and the business of publishing (and getting published) at several universities and writers’ conferences. He lives in Dallas, and is a graduate of the University of Texas.

John Parsley John Parsley
John Parsley is editor in chief and VP, Dutton/Penguin.

Parsley was previously VP, executive editor at Little, Brown, and he has edited New York Times bestselling nonfiction authors including Walter Borneman, Ayesha Curry, Hunter Davies, John Feinstein, John Fogerty, Chris Hadfield, Keith Hernandez, Robert Hilburn, Annie Jacobsen, Sam Kean, Roland Lazenby, Beth Macy, John McEnroe, Kevin Mitnick, Michael Mooney, Willie Nelson, Philip Norman, Joshua Ramo, Mariano Rivera, Carlos Santana, Brad Stone, Bill Streever, Robert Weintraub, and Alan Weisman, and fiction by New York Times bestselling authors including Harlan Coben, Oakley Hall, Don Mann, Per Peterson, Andrew Pyper, and Maximillian Uriarte.

Authors Parsley has worked with have won or been finalists for the LA Times Book Prize, Lukas Prize, NBCC Award, PEN Award, and Pulitzer Prize. He serves on the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference advisory board.
David R. Patterson David R. Patterson
David R. Patterson is an agent with Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency in New York City, where he represents a wide variety of narrative and idea-driven nonfiction and literary fiction, with an emphasis on journalists, public figures, scholars, and performers. His clients include Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists, winners of the Polk and Livingston Awards, and contributors and writers on the staff of The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Texas Monthly, and The Atlantic, among other publications.

Mayborn affiliated writers whom Patterson represents include Michael J. Mooney, author of “The Life and Legend of Chris Kyle,” Doug J. Swanson, author of “Blood Aces,” Tim Elfrink and Gus Garcia-Roberts, the authors of “Blood Sport,” Joe Tone, author of “Bones,” Brantley Hargrove, author of “The Man Who Caught the Storm: The Life of Legendary Tornado Chaser Tim Samaras,” and Albert Samaha, author of “Never Ran, Never Will: Boyhood and Football in a Changing American Inner City.”

BJ Robbins BJ Robbins
BJ Robbins opened her Los Angeles-based literary agency in 1992 after a multifaceted career in book publishing, first at Simon & Schuster, and later at Harcourt. Her agency represents both fiction and nonfiction, with a particular interest in memoir, biography, history, pop culture, sports, travel/adventure, medicine, and health. Nonfiction clients include James Donovan (“A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn,” “The Blood of Heroes”), J. Maarten Troost (“The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Getting Stoned with Savages, Lost on Planet China”), Tim Madigan, (“I’m Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers”), co-host of the Emmy-winning TV show “The Doctors” Dr. Lisa Masterson (“Paper Dollhouse: A Memoir”), nationally syndicated columnist Chris Erskine (“Man of the House”), LL Cool J (“I Make My Own Rules”), Roger Love (“Set Your Voice Free, Love Your Voice, Sing Like the Stars”), Katie Tarbox (“A Girl’s Life Online”), Mel Watkins (“Stepin Fetchit: The Life and Times of Lincoln Perry”), Dave Davies (“Kink”) and Dr. Pamela Nagami (“The Woman with a Worm in Her Head,” “Bitten”).