Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Questionless Books Interview: Literary Agent Marilyn Biderman

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Marilyn Biderman

In The Questionless Books Interview, I get a whole bunch of books people (from authors to editors to publishers to sales/publicity/production people, booksellers, designers, librarians, readers, etc) to "answer" a series of unspoken "questions". The results highlight a delightful mix of the opportunities and challenges facing our sector: from doom and gloom to sunshine and rainbows, and every irony in between.

Marilyn Biderman recently founded her own literary agency, Marilyn Biderman Literary Management. Until September 2009, she was the Vice President, Rights and Contracts at McClelland & Stewart, where she had worked for twelve years. Marilyn has taught at the publishing programs at Ryerson University, Simon Fraser University, Humber College, and Centennial College. She has also mentored many publishers under the auspices of the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Canada Council. She is also a lawyer, the author of several papers on copyright law, a juror for literary competitions, and a passionate balletomane.

Marilyn's Links:


I am...a literary agent.

I am known to...have strong opinions.

I do this in...the privacy of my own mind sometimes.

I do this because...I don’t know any other way to live.

I do this when books.

The way I do this is...sometimes to talk out loud to the author when I’m reading, as in “Oh, come on. You can’t be serious.”

At its core, a Writer is...someone who can carefully craft language.

As opposed to an Author, who is...someone who can craft art with language.

A Writer is responsible for...the conveyance of clear thought and meaning.

As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for...creating works of original thought and literary merit.

At its core, Publishing is...near impossible, given the business model upon which it operates.

As opposed to Editing, which is...the way some terrifically gifted individuals earn a living.

A Publisher should always...publish good books

As opposed to an Editor, who should always...make good books better.

A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others exercise in ego and intellect

As opposed to a Book that's ready to be ready by others, which is...the result of the symbiotic relationship between publisher and author.

To be a Book a thing must be...beautiful to look at, and pleasing to hold. Sound familiar?

The biggest reason to be scared of the future is...that it will test our ability to adapt.

The biggest reason to anticipate the future is...that it will test our ability to adapt.

In the future we will all...still read books.

At his/her core, a Reader is...a civilized person.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Related item from our archives

George Murray

George Murray’s six books of poetry include The Rush to Here and The Hunter. His most recent books, Whiteout and Glimpse: Selected Aphorisms, are published by ECW Press. He is the editor of the popular literary website

Go to George Murray’s Author Page