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.

Jessica

25 comments:

~Aimee States said...

We writers are such narcissists sometimes. I know I can be. All I think about are MY BOOKS AND ME most days.

bethanyintexas said...

Thank you for this post. It was interesting and funny (especially since I haven't finished my coffee and still trying to wake up). I suppose if an author provided the booze for an agent party they wouldn't care who you queried or how many times. LOL. Not a tactic I'd employ (or recommend), but I can see what you say about not remembering.

Aimless Writer said...

One note on this would be don't query two agents in the same agency, right?

Anonymous said...

Ahh, Queryfail continues to leave scars on the hearts of aspiring authors everywhere, even those who never heard about it. The solution is simple. Don't query the agents or editors who participated. Google 'Queryfail' and you'll soon find a list of names.

Rachel Menard said...

Thanks anonymous questioner. Now I have something else to worry about as I release my queries.

BookEnds, LLC said...

Aimless:

I would not recommend querying two agents at the same agency

Anonymous said...

I'm sure *you* don't get together with your friends and make fun of submissions you've received. But alas, #queryfail was a great deal of exactly that.

Fawn Neun said...

So... is the money I spend liquoring up agents ultimately tax deductible? :)

Keith Schroeder said...

I like it when people talk about me. Hell, if I get published I hope the whole **** world talks about me, good or bad, makes no difference to me.

What bothers me is the word verification to get this posted: obesse. Does this shirt make me look fat?

Anonymous said...

I had one agent really interested in my ms., but requested some major changes. Another agent offered on the book with minor changes. I signed with Agent 2. Soon after the book was sold, we all turned up at the same conference, and I learned the agents were good friends. Agent 1 congratulated me on the sale, Agent 2 learned Agent 1 was once in play, then we all had a drink at the bar (or two). No big deal. We focus on ourselves and our work 24/7. We're writers, that's what we do. Agents focus on us and our work only when we're clients and they're trying to sell it, which is what they should do.

Dara said...

That question never even crossed my mind. I guess the way I see it is if an agent does want to make fun of it privately, it's not like I'm gonna know. :P

Kate Douglas said...

bethanyintexas, there is a party every other year where the authors provide the booze, and it's highly effective! I belong to PASIC, an online chapter of Romance Writers of America. We hold a conference every other year in New York and invite industry professionals--editors, agents, publicists--all the people who make our careers work. It's a small conference and the party is the highlight--a wonderful chance to meet with the ones who affect our careers so much. I highly recommend PASIC for anyone published within the romance genre--it's a very supportive group of authors and the conference is really fantastic.

Heidi Willis said...

This made me laugh! Not the question - it was a good one - but the way you wrote the answer...

A year ago or so I queried an agent who wrote a personal rejection to the requested pages that required an answer (she asked a question that wasn't a hypothetical). When I wrote back she needed to be reminded what the book was about.

That pretty much taught me that agents get enough material every day to quickly forget what they don't need to remember.

clindsay said...

For the most part, when I get together with my agent friends, work is the LAST thing we talk about. We need a break, so we talk about just about anything else.

And living in the NYC area, it is inevitable that your agent will be friends with not only other agents but a lot of editors as well. It's a fairly small publishing community, after all.

DebraLSchubert said...

I've wondered this once or twice with agents who I know are friends. Thanks for posting the question. It's good to have one less thing to worry about!

Mira said...

Jessica, I really like that you address things like this - sort of the hidden concerns. There's enough 'snark' on the industry blogs, that this is reassuring.

It's weird, too, but as I post on multiple agent blogs, I sometimes have flashes of feeling disloyal for posting on more than one, which is a weird idea, but it's there nonetheless. So, thanks.

On the other hand, although I don't want agents to make fun of my book, I'm with Keith. I'm completely fine with the idea that agents spend an entire evening talking about me. If they have such excellent taste in discussion topics, who am I to say nay?

Anonymous said...

I'd worry about agents talking about novels and asking their opinion. What if the friend gets the same query/submission later? Then it's not new or fresh...

Perhaps the agent discusses a plot twist or an idea with an editor but they forget where it came from and it winds up in another author's book "by accident"? It happens!

Steph Damore said...

Mira - what are you doing here?!?

Hahaha, just kidding. I think it's great to post on different agent and industry blogs. I don't look at it as being disloyal, but rather informed. I love hearing what every industry insider has to say. It makes me understand publishing so much more and makes me really feel like a part of it.

Anonymous said...

Jessica - When two agents offer representation on the same work (a place I would like to be in some day), should the author tell both agents of the others offer? And if so, should the also tell who it is making the offer? Would that change the friends sceniro you discuss here...not to laugh at the work, but just to brain storm on it?

Robena Grant said...

Too funny.
I just hope if anyone is laughing at my stuff they laugh so hard they wet themselves.

Jm Diaz said...

"in the wise words of my husband, “we just don’t talk about you that much.”"
-Awesome :)

Mira said...

Hi Steph,

Arrggghhh. You caught me. I was trying to sneak in and out without anyone noticing. :)

Seriously, though, so many of the blogs are fun and interesting, and the agents are great, so how can we not roam around? The idea that it's a loyalty issue is just silly, but it does pop in for some reason.

Hmmmm. Speaking of which, what are YOU doing here? :)

Steph Damore said...

Mira - alas, you caught me. Nathan Bransford is my hero, but he's not my agent.

Actually, Jessica's my hero too. Any agent that somehow finds the time to blog daily while managing a bazillion emails, phone calls, and queries deserves my utmost respect and admiration.

These agents care, they want to help us succeed - how awesome is that? Of course we can't help checking out all of their blogs!

Mira said...

Steph, absolutely! You're right.

But you know....this conversation has made me realize, I have a new dream. I like more than one agent, so I don't want to stop at one. I want a whole team of them.

Is there something wrong with that picture? No way! It's gorgeous. I have to stop posting now, so I can go daydream.....

:)

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