THE KIRKUS REVIEW - CONFESSIONS : A Memoir
Jodie Rhodes Rhodes’ grew up in an era when women succeeded in marriage, not business. But her parents’ toxic relationship, a family legacy of divorce, plus her burning desire to write, all sent Rhodes the other way. Precocious, tenacious and pretty, she charged into the world of 1960s advertising at the age of 20 and fairly conquered it, moving on and up like a cyclone, becoming VP Media Director of N.W. Ayer, but smarts and drive couldn’t save her from personal tragedies. A business primer with winning marketing gambits, and a romance memoir with all the confessions readers savor.
MMD Newswire) October 24, 2011 -- Released in early September 2011, "Confessions: A Memoir" is already being lauded by online reviewers as "A startling (in its truthfulness) and compulsively readable story... [It is] told in a streamlined, literary and wonderfully crafted voice. The writing throughout is beautiful, almost hypnotic, and adroitly-paced. You would be hard pressed not to want to go on and on...In fact, soon after Confessions hit the literary market, it received more than 35 Five Star Amazon Reviews.
Confessions: A Memoir is an illuminating look at the life of a top literary agent and the dramatized story of her childhood, her personal and professional relationships, as well as her prior career in advertising. Fascinating, funny, and sometimes shocking, this candid page-turner reveals a woman who endured extreme highs and lows. Those inclined to be envious of Rhodes' accomplishments and lifestyle should realize that she has suffered more than average to achieve more than average. Confessions is a valuable contribution to the industry and will likely attract multiple readers.
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Author Jodie Rhodes knew that her chances of having any success as a literary agent were, in her words, “equal to my chances of starring in Sex and the City.” She didn't know any editors, didn't represent any writers, and lived half a continent away from the publishing world. To make matters worse, her financial situation was so bad that she actually expected to be homeless at one point. But like most of our fears, hers were not to come to fruition, and once she got over her "little hump," Jodie Rhodes established herself as a real go-to person, for both authors and publishing companies.
Even after “making it,” Jodie Rhodes felt that there was something more that she needed to do. That “something” turned out to be a book, titled Confessions: A Memoir, which not only provides an unvarnished view of her life as it shifted from desperation to prosperity, but also offers a host of hard-earned lessons that fledgling authors – such as those who follow this forum – can use to make their own efforts to promote their books more successful.
Confessions: A Memoir was released last month, and has already gotten a bunch of great reviews on its Amazon.com page (and not from folks who are fishing for a quid pro quo, as some authors have solicited in their attempts to game Amazon’s system). One reviewer wrote, “Confessions is a startling (in its truthfulness) and compulsively readable story... told in a streamlined, literary and wonderfully crafted voice. The writing throughout is beautiful, almost hypnotic, and adroitly-paced. You would be hard pressed not to want it to go on and on...”
A Kirkus review describes the book thusly: “A business primer with detailed strategies of winning marketing gambits, and a romance memoir with all the confessions readers savor…”
Foreword Clarion had this to say about Confessions: A Memoir: “Mesmerizing and informative… a valuable contribution to the industry and will likely attract writers, agents and editors.”
Unlike most books that offer business advice, Jodie Rhodes’ Confessions: A Memoir is as much a good read as a “how-to,” that I think will engage and entertain readers who couldn’t care less about the publishing industry (yeah… believe it or not, there are one or two of those out there!).
Jodie Rhodes’ story is like a modern Victor Hugo novel; she graduated from college, unmarried, pregnant, and having been booted from her dorm because of it. Her senior year was spent living in a rented room in a hovel she shared with eight other tenants (but with no kitchen, bathroom, or running water), and paying her share of the rent by grading papers for her English professor. After graduation, she got a job as an editor for McGraw-Hill, but her passion was in advertising and marketing. Her first novel, American Beauties, was published by Bantam, and her second, Winners and Losers, was published by Penguin/Jove, who after a minor bidding war,won the right to sign her and it made the Los Angeles Times bestseller list its first week in print.
Now, here’s what will probably really interest you forum members: Jodie Rhodes is not your standard-issue literary agent who turns her nose up at new authors. As a matter of fact, she welcomes queries by new, unknown authors, and has a special place in her heart for those who have been rejected by other agents. Unlike other agents who claim to welcome new authors, however, Jodie Rhodes has actually guided a number of those previously shunned authors to successful publication and impressive sales numbers. She currently represents close to one hundred writers, and will soon be launching a not-for-profit publishing company called Jodie Rhodes Literary Book Awards. She also has a couple more books of her own in the works for future publication.
I usually end my articles with “good luck,” but people like Jodie Rhodes remind me that our own determination and drive are what make up most of that “luck.” So get off your butts and make something good happen! (And good luck, anyway!)
Author-Ron is a ghostwriter, editor, and publishing expert with 40 years experience in the literary trenches. Visit his website athttp://www.schmidtkaye.com.
2012 Filed under: Books
Author: Jamie Nast
Jodie Rhodes is my literary agent and the person to whom I give credit for getting my Idea Mapping book published by a major publisher — John Wiley & Sons. I was introduced to Jodie by my good friend Scott Hagwood who is a 4-time USA Memory Champion, the 1st Grand Master of Memory in the USA and also one of Jodie’s authors who wrote a book titled Memory Power.
Jodie’s first novel was American Beauties followed by Winners and Losers which made the LA Times bestseller list its first week in print. Her recent book Confessions was just published in the fall of 2011. I finally had a chance to read it and couldn’t put it down. This memoir is not her story about becoming a literary agent. In fact, you won’t come across that until the end of the book. As Jodie states, “Instead, you will read the story of a person who lived a life that could only be written as a confession.” See the back cover of the book where 10 New York editors praised her work.
A unique attribute of this book (not surprising considering it is Jodie after all) is that all money generated by the sales of this memoir will be donated to The Jodie Rhodes Literary Book Awards. You can read more about her professional history on her website, but this book gives you a peek into a woman with impeccable honesty and someone who never gives up…NEVER!
Praise From NY Editors
Praise For Confessions By New York Editors
Dear Jodie, What an amazing life story, filled with smarts, moxie, fierce independence, success, hard-won wisdom.
Dear Jodie, You’ve found just the right voice in which to reveal the mix of wondrous, difficult, and inspirational moments that have informed your life,
J: wow, I had no idea you wrote so well. It’s quite good.
Dear Jodie, As a writer, you have a very appealing voice—vivacious and funny, and I think a lot of women will connect to the feminist undercurrent of your story. I might add most writers are not usually this candid.
Hi Jodie - Thank you for sharing this with me. It's hilarious and I'm impressed by your story, and your willingness to lay it all out on the page.
Dear Jodie, You are a very funny and lively writer.
Dear Jodie, I love your strong and candid voice.
Dear Jodie, This is a fascinating story and you tell it well.
Dear Jodie, You have a wonderful style and I found the book quite engaging and entertaining.
Dear Jodie, This is full of your trademark humor and energy and kudos to you for the honesty and chutzpah.
EXCERPTS FROM THE FIRST AND LAST CHAPTER
I was a late bloomer and by the age of 15 had come to the glum conclusion I was doomed to become an old maid. If anyone had told me then that I’d end up with more men in my life than Elizabeth Taylor, I would have assumed they were either so high on drugs that they couldn’t see straight or they wanted to borrow money from me.
There has never been an old maid in my family tree and I tried to find comfort by reminding myself that I come from a long line of people who make disastrous marriages. Perhaps fate had decided to stop this endless chain of misery with me, since I am literally the end of my family as my brother never married, by turning me into a kindly albeit aging librarian who’d lead children away from their own miserable families into the wonderful world of books.
For reasons I never understood until I started writing this memoir, once men left their wives for me, I no longer wanted to have sex with them. I felt almost as terrible about this development as they did. They'd just torn their lives apart for me and this was how I treated them? Why? One insisted I see a psychiatrist in hopes of getting my body back. . He even found the shrink for me. I remember my first meeting with him. I was filled with guilt, went on and on about how kind, warm, witty, devoted this wonderful man was to me and how terrible I felt about treating him this way. He recommended I join his therapy group where I became an expert at digging out other people's hidden problems but we were all baffled by mine.
In retrospect I realize that sex was my way of seducing them into loving me, for there was no love in my family and, although I didn’t consciously realize it, I was starved for love.
THE LAST PAGES OF THE BOOK
There is no way to truly describe what it’s like to lose everything overnight. One day I had $250,000. The next day I had $6.00 to my name and owed $900 rent for my apartment in LA plus $1200 for the mortgage payment on the La Jolla condo.
In the early 90s, I had all my money in the stock market. It was long before the dot com crash, but I was nervous. So I took it all out and invested in a trust deed company, a well-respected family owned business that had been operating for over 50 years, that my own ad agency had invested their profit sharing funds in it and was strongly recommended by savvy investors.
For two years, on the first business day of every month, I received a check from this company for $2500. In February 1992, no check arrived. For decades this company had served the community honestly and returned a solid 10-14% on its money. But when the real estate market tanked, the sons of the original owners launched a Ponzi scheme based on falsified trust deeds, wiping out everyone’s equity. Then my ad agency went bankrupt and California went into a severe recession. Agencies all over town were cutting staff. There were no jobs available anywhere.
I started cleaning people’s houses, scrubbing floors and toilets. I baked muffins and cookies that I sold at my bridge club. I gave bridge lessons. I took care of a 93 year old woman with Alzheimer’s. I tried to sell the La Jolla condo but the real estate market was so depressed that I couldn’t sell it for enough money to pay off the mortgage and closing costs.
So my dear friend Bob McCarter piled my furniture into a U Haul and moved me to La Jolla where I found myself in a place where I knew no one, teetering on the brink of becoming homeless.
Fate works in a strange way, for if I hadn’t been wiped out financially, I would never have become a literary agent. To keep from starving, I became a guinea pig for pharmaceutical research studies. I also owe a debt of gratitude to Ralphs and the SD Union Tribune. Every Sunday the Trib had coupon books snuggled next to Ralph ads for a variety of products available not only on sale but at as much as $2.00 off with the coupons.
I’d buy $40 worth of groceries for $10 and then trot off to the other supermarkets where I’d exchange them for cash and food.
This kept me treading water but I remained close to drowning. Then I found in the San Diego Tribune a section that listed activities for singles and I saw there were writers’ groups included. Not only could I start giving writing workshops but I could advertise my workshops for free and claim to be a literary agent! I’d be flooded with eager writers.
You need to know there is nothing illegal in claiming to be a literary agent because there are no rules or requirements for becoming one except claiming to be one. However, I’m cursed with a fairly strong streak of ethical behavior so I wrote the publishers of Guide To Literary Agents and Literary Market Place that I was a new agent based in La Jolla and gave them basic information about me. I never heard back from them and was oblivious of the fact that LMP would never list an agent that couldn’t produce recommendations from at least three major NY editors.
Although I had workshops every weeknight and many writers came to them, I had so much turnover because of my blunt critiques that I gave up charging a monthly fee and had everyone pay weekly. Nobody had much money and so my fee per session was $20. Some weeks I made $200. Some weeks I made $40. I should also add, painful as it is to admit, that absolutely no one was impressed to learn I was an agent.
I was still using coupons for groceries and I had zero discretionary income. I couldn’t buy clothes and went around in increasingly ragged sweats, wore no makeup and found a Vietnamese woman who cut my hair for $10. I knew if I was calling myself an agent, I had to at least get stationary and business cards and that was a hard expense to meet. So I enrolled in some more pharmaceutical research studies.
Late at night, the demons came out to play. How long could I keep this up? Was this going to be the rest of my life?
Then one day I opened my mailbox and there was a manuscript inside.
Guide To Literary Agents had actually listed me in their book! I did not want to open the envelope. What if it was a truly talented writer? How could I explain it would be impossible for me to represent him or her because the truth was that my chances of selling a writer’s book were equal to my chances of starring in Sex and The City. I didn’t know a single editor, didn’t have a single writer, lived 3000 miles away from the heart of the publishing business in New York and was in such dire financial straits that becoming homeless was a real possibility.
During sleepless nights I envisioned the headlines: PUBLISHING WORLD STUNNED - WRITERS DEVASTATED. It has been discovered that the Jodie Rhodes Literary Agency, believed to be a legitimate business, actually operates out of a shopping cart and its founder is a bag lady.