Tag Archives: agent

What to Expect When You Finally Get an Agent: How Many Questions Can I Ask?

PART THREE (of a multi-part blog post)

Email-IconEven though you (Linda) were very clear that I could send you an email or ask for a phone call whenever I had questions–and that you encouraged me to come to you with them–I felt like it was different once the manuscript was sent in and in your hands. It felt like the ball was in your court and I wasn’t sure if I should let that run its course (wait for you to get back to me with what would happen next) or if I could start asking you about what I planned to do next. So, I’m thinking there might be some newbies like me who are thinking “Am I getting ahead of myself and bothering her when she’s clearly busy already trying to get through the first steps we agreed on?” Is it okay to come to you, when you’re in the beginning stages of working on a manuscript, with questions/requests for advice and opinions on what we’re working on next or should be doing?

1103361_telephone_icon_4This question is way longer than my answer, which is “yes.” I’m comfortable with a fair amount of communication (email preferable, but scheduling an occasional phone call is ok, too). But I think every agent is different, so it’s not a bad idea to find out what the ground rules are for your agent. When I say to my clients at the beginning of our relationship that whenever they have questions they can email or we can schedule a call, what I really mean is “we can email or we can schedule a call.” I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and blabbing over here on the blog.

Yes, I’m busy. But I’d rather take the time to answer my clients’ questions than have anyone sitting around wondering what I might say if they asked me. I will always let a client know if they’re getting ahead of their self. (them self? their selves? help!)  I imagine most agents are the same, but again, find out what the ground rules are with your agent.

How many questions is it ok for an agent to ask a client?


Filed under Uncategorized

Weekend Reading

Drawing by Keith Haring, a brilliant artist

My son is cramming doing the last of his summer reading now because  school starts in just 9 days and he’s not quite done. He’s lucky because his school just wants him to read any old book of his choosing and then write something about it. Back in elementary school the kids had required reading, but he’s in middle school so they let them choose their own books. Of course, even in middle school they have “suggestions,” but my kids never like those suggestions.  So my son chose a steam punk alternative history zombie apocalypse set in Seattle (where we just happened to visit this summer), called BONESHAKER. I couldn’t be happier. Every time he sits down to read it brings a tear to my eye.

So as he’s on the love seat reading, he looks over at me on the coach and says, “Whatcha doing?” I mutter, “Reading a manuscript.” He says, “The same one?” I say, “No, I finished that one. This is a different one.” So he says, “How many did you read this weekend?” I mumble, “This is my second.” His eyebrows dart up, eyes growing larger, and he says, “How many pages is each one?! Like or 200, 300?” So I smile. “Yes,” I say. “About 200 or 300 pages each.” Shaking his head in disbelief he says, “That’s a lot of stories to have in your head. You’re like a human library.” I reply, “Yes, it sure is a lot of stories to have in my head.”


Filed under Uncategorized

Writing Conferences: The Agent on the Other Side of the Table

This weekend I popped my writing conference cherry at the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland, Oregon. Actually, I’ve been to writing conferences before, but as a writer not as an agent. This weekend I sat and took pitches from one million and forty seven people. It’s so difficult to know whether anything will come of any of it, because I haven’t actually seen any of the writing yet. But I’m hopeful.

Face to face pitching is excruciating, both for the writer and for the agent. On the writer side, I know how you just want to get it right, convey the beauty or majesty or seriousness or humor or importance or fun of your manuscript, and have that agent say, “Yes! I want to see the whole thing and I want to be your agent and we’re going to make a million bucks because this is the best thing I’ve ever heard of or seen ever!” Or maybe even, “Sure. Send me the first 10 pages.” I get that, because I’m a writer and I’ve been on that side of the pitching table. On the agent side, I’m hoping to hear something interesting, so I’m really listening for that, fingers crossed under the table.

But some people don’t do their homework and pitch me things that I just don’t represent. I hate that, because I hate telling someone not even to bother sending it. But I did tell some people that. And then sometimes I could just tell it wasn’t for me, something about the content or structure or theme. I’m just interested in what I’m interested in and not interested in what I’m not interested in. Although I don’t like to tell folks no, I also am not sorry for liking what I like.

There were so many things to like, too! Because some people did do their homework! I got a great MG pitch that I’m particularly  looking forward to seeing and also a fun YA that I’m eager for. And some potentially interesting fantasy/sci fi and a lot of literary fiction! And I have no idea if any of it will be good or a good fit for my list or pan out to actually be up my alley (Ok, I have a little idea of whose I think might be good though…).

But here’s what I like about being at a conference: the authors are these brave souls who are on this journey to express something and I might be able to help them with that. So if I say no or yes I try (sometimes more successfully than others) to have them walk away having gained something from the interaction. Sometimes I’m giving them writing advice, or coaching them on pitching or just reassuring them that agents are just human beings like themselves. Sometimes I’m letting them know that they should do their homework before pitching.

And what I love, although it’s totally exhausting, is meeting the people.

Have you been to writing conferences? What do you hate or love about them?



Filed under Uncategorized