Book agent Sharlene Martin explains dropping Zimmerman juror

<i>This post has been updated. See the note below for details.</i>

“I believe I made a grave error in judgment in wanting to represent this story.”

That’s what Sharlene Martin wrote about her decision to take on Juror B37 as a client. The juror had been part of the trial of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. The jury found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder, and did not decide whether he was guilty of a lesser charge of manslaughter.

In an email to The Times, Martin wrote, “I decided to rescind my offer of representation after watching Juror B37 on Anderson Cooper 360. I believe I made a grave error in judgment in wanting to represent this story. Shortly after the show aired, I reached out to B37 and suggested we terminate our book representation agreement. She and her husband agreed.”


[Updated, 12:44 p.m. PDT July 16: Martin later wrote: “The decision to rescind the representation offer from Martin Literary Management was made prior to [a petition by seeking to stop Zimmerman case jurors from profiting from their involvement] was activated. Although I fully appreciate the sentiments of those who took the time to sign and write me of their concerns, I had already reached the conclusion that this was a book that should not be written by this Juror.”]

Martin has represented sensational clients before, including Mary Jo Buttafuoco, who was shot by the woman having an affair with her husband, and Raffaele Sollecito, who was arrested with Amanda Knox in the killing of Meredith Kercher, and later released.

One of her more controversial books may have been the second release of “If I Did It” by O.J. Simpson. Pulled immediately after its original release, the book was later represented by Martin on behalf of her client, the Goldman family -- the relatives of Ron Goldman, who was killed with Nicole Brown Simpson in 1994. The second release of “If I Did It” was released with additional material and proceeds went to the victims’ families.

In a 2008 essay in Publishers Weekly, Martin wrote, “As a literary agent, I’m guilty of my share of misfires in the dicey pursuit of publishing books that follow up on juicy current events.” But overall, she went on to explain, “any ‘headline’ is worth chasing if its message is universal and it has a timeless quality. ... Oops -- you must excuse me. I think I hear sirens. ...”


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