Thursday, April 25, 2013

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Jeff Ourvan

Jeff Ourvan, an attorney, published author and former editor, is a literary agent with the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency. His interests are varied: he represents non-fiction works, especially memoirs, histories, biographies, international current events and sports. He also represents fiction works, particularly in the young adult, thriller and international fiction categories. Prior to his career as a literary agent, Jeff was a litigator for many years at two large New York-based corporate law firms; a communications consultant working in New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo; and an editor of Living Buddhism magazine.

Jeff’s most recently published work, How To Coach Youth Baseball So Every Kid Wins, was released by Skyhorse Publishing in 2012.  His next work, The Star Spangled Buddhist: Zen, Tibetan and Soka Gakkai Buddhism and The Quest For Enlightenment in America, will be published in June 2013.  A thriller writer and nonfiction author, Jeff studied writing for many years with the award-winning novelist John Rechy.  Prior to working as a literary agent, Jeff was a magazine editor, as well as a corporate attorney, public relations executive, geologist and commercial fisherman. 

Jeff Ourvan is also a writing instructor at The Write Workshop NYC,  You can follow him on Twitter @WriteWorkshopNY.

For more information, check out my friends Natalie Aguirre and Casey McCormick's wonderful blog, Literary Rambles.
And now Jeff Ourvan faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

Don Quixote, The Wanderer (by Alain Fournier), The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin

Question Six: What are your top three favorite movies and television shows?


The Red Balloon, Lost In Translation, Rear Window

TV shows: 

Looney Tunes, The Honeymooners, Monty Python's Flying Circus

Question Five: What are the qualities of your ideal client?

Excellent writings skills, open to editorial critiques, pleasant to work with, and living a courageous life.

Question Four: What sort of project(s) would you most like to receive a query for?

In particular, I'm looking right now for nonfiction sports and science, and also literary young adult fiction and middle grade fiction (but not paranormal). 

Question Three: What is your favorite thing about being an agent? What is your least favorite thing?

I love working with good writers and helping them to improve their works, and I love securing publishers for them.  Least favorite: managing expectations.

Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)

1. Live a courageous and daring life so that you know, in your bones, how to write about gain and loss, victory and defeat.
2. Avoid adverbs.

Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

Miguel de Cervantes.  He was an adventurer, a sailor, an escaped, recaptured and ransomed slave, and the father of the modern novel.


  1. You're confusing us by posting this on Thursday instead of Saturday, Robert.

    Great answers. Loved the advice to writers.

  2. Now this is an agent I could "live with".

  3. Hey there Jeff, long time no speak! I LOVED reading your interview. You haven't changed a bit!! How are you, sir? I'm on Twitter @melissa_chapin and Facebook as well. Hope everything is wonderful with you!! Melissa Chapin


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