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In The Media

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Interview Found NY
JL STERMER, literary agent/CEO, Next Level Lit 
Neighborhood you work in:
East Village/Gramercy

It's Tuesday morning, where are you working?

I'm WFH and it suits me just fine. After many years of well-intentioned false starts, I've finally become the person who gets up and meditates every morning, drinks my green juice, and keeps it moving. There's a tree right outside my window that gets lots of bird and squirrel action, so that, along with east-facing sunlight is good for getting me motivated.


What's the Tuesday morning scene at your workplace?

My desk stays fairly tidy, but the wall I face is littered with post-it notes of varying colors and sizes. I slap up ideas, inspirational quotes, and questions I keep asking myself about bigger challenges in my life. I've definitely been stressing about one thing or another and I'll look up and see something I wrote and I'm like: Thank you JL from an earlier, more-inspired time. Along the larger part of the wall 1've got my progress schedule for projects: Development, Submission, Contracts, Pre-Pub, Post-Pub. 

Behind me is my real treasure: my bookshelf. The goal was to make it aesthetically pleasing while showcasing the work I have done with my clients. Getting a book out into the world is a very long process and a heavy lift so being proud of the finished product is a must. I also keep a spot for highlighting the books that have just been published, so when I'm in Zoom meetings, you can see what's the latest and greatest.


What's on the agenda for today?

"Oh god, everyone is circling back." This meme encapsulates the life of a literary agent. I'm the one who circles back, so after I do that, I'm going to check the Google Alerts on my clients, and today I've got a marketing and publicity kick-off call with author Dene Logan and her team at Sounds True for her book Sovereign Love: A Guide to Healing Relationships by Reclaiming the Masculine and Feminine Within (pub date: May 28, 2024). Later I have a call with a talent manager about a client of hers with a potential book project, and I'm excited because we have a track record of great deals together.

JL Stermer Next Level Lit

What's for lunch?

(Caution: flex ahead.) Okay, so not only do I meditate everyday, I also started a nutrition and strength-training program last year, so I'm usually eating some kind of healthy meal that aligns with my macros: salmon, quinoa, avocado. Or, if I'm meeting up with an editor or potential client, I love to link up at POST in the East Village. They have a cute set up and a great back garden. Or a good-old-fashioned New York diner never misses, so I head over to Gramercy Kitchen for a BLT or their healthy breakfast wrap with hot sauce.

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​Think you can write a book?
Here’s how to pitch, publish and push your career

Everyone dreams of being an author. The pandemic has inspired many to start on these long-dormant passion projects. Or maybe just toy around with the idea but not, you know, take any tangible action in getting the proverbial pen to paper.

First, the good news: “If you want to write a book related to your career, this is a clear sign that you are ready to acknowledge your growth and achievement in life,” said J. L. Stermer, a literary agent who teaches “How to Get Published” at Gotham Writers Workshop, and is also president of Next Level Lit.

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