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Gluck: WME lit leader strikes while iron is hot

Women's Impact Report 2011: Suzanne Gluck

William Morris Endeavor’s literary department is on pace to have its best year ever, thanks to its swelling roster of best-selling authors. “It’s a thrill to help steer such an awesome ship,” says Suzanne Gluck of her group, which published 211 books last year, with 64% of them — or 130 titles — hitting the New York Times best-seller list. This year is already tracking ahead of 2010.

Among the highlights was Juan Williams’ book “Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate,” which became one of the most buzzed-about tomes of the year given Williams’ ouster from NPR over comments he made on Fox News about Muslims.

The publisher wanted to move from deal to publication to best-seller list in record time while everyone was still talking about his firing and how essential freedom of speech is,” says Gluck of the nine-month journey to bookshelves.

The longtime William Morris agent recently signed uber-hot scribe Darin Strauss (“Chang and Eng”), whose “Half a Life” nabbed this year’s National Book Critics Circle autobiography prize. He joins a lineup that includes a tribe of young talent (WME reps six of the 20 fiction writers on the New Yorker’s 2010 “20 Under 40” list).

And this fall promises to be “an embarrassment of riches” for Gluck and WME, with an armada of anticipated nonfiction titles including David King’s “Death in the City of Light,” as well as Candice Millard’s “Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President.”

Despite the ailing economy, the publishing industry continues to show surprising growth — buoyed largely by e-books — and Gluck says advances for new voices and best-selling authors are as robust as ever. Still, she says the biggest challenge for literary agents today is navigating the digital landscape.

“Some of the things that we treasured in the physical book-selling world have disappeared,” Gluck says. “Chains have gone under. But there has been tremendous opportunity. People who love books can now get them faster. The challenge for us is how to make sure our authors are ahead of the curve in this new world.”

SNAPSHOT
Title: Co-Head of WME’s worldwide literary dept.
Role model: “My dad because he went to work every day for 50 years thrilled to death about his job and then came home every night equally thrilled to see his family.”
Career mantra: “God is in the details. Every little step will get you there.”
Leisure pursuits: “I still love to read. I also love gardens, not gardening.”
Philanthropic/political passions: Planned Parenthood, National Coalition Against Censorship and Gluck’s alma mater, Brown University

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