Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Friends and Agents

Two of the agents I want to query seem to be good friends. They are always twittering back and forth. Can I query them both, or is that like asking a pair of best friends if either would like to go on a date? My worst fear is that they will have a riotous evening of drinking wine and making fun of my book.

Boy, how I would love a riotous evening of drinking with my fellow agents right now. But let me tell you, when and if we do finally get together we’re very unlikely to make fun of your book. In fact, I can’t even begin to imagine why we would do that. There are so many other things to make fun of, like, for example, each other. The truth? While we certainly kvetch and complain and talk about the frustrations of our jobs, the only time we really talk about submissions, or the only time I’ve ever talked about submissions with other industry professionals, is when it was a project we both knew the other had requested (say from a conference) and we both agreed that we loved the idea or the concept, but ultimately didn’t feel it came together. All information we would have given the author. Never once did we make fun of a project, but instead talked sadly about how we felt it was so close, but just hadn’t met our expectations.

When I get together with fellow agents we rarely if ever talk about specific projects, but instead talk more generally about situations. How do you handle a client you don’t communicate well with? What did you do about that new clause in Big Publishing House Contract? What are your thoughts on the restructuring of Mid-Size Publishing House? How much do you love your Kindle? Or Where did you get that amazing pair of shoes? More important, though, we often talk about who is buying the next round. It I hadn’t made it clear, in the wise words of my husband, “we just don’t talk about you that much.”

Do not worry about pitting agent friends against each other. It’s all part of the healthy competition that is publishing. They won’t hate you, they won’t talk about you behind your back and, in many cases, they won’t even ever know. And honestly, if you provide enough booze, they’ll never remember anyway.