One of the really nice things about being an agent is that I don’t really have to bullshit people. My clients count on me to tell them the truth. So, when I really like something they’ve written I get to fully express that and when I don’t like something they’ve written I don’t have to blow smoke up their skirts (or whatever) trying to be polite or dancing around the issue. When I pitch a manuscript to editors it becomes my job to be fully expressed, to convey all the enthusiasm and love that I have for my clients’ projects to them. I get a little nervous before I’m going to pitch, but then when I remember what my job is, it’s actually easy because I love my clients’ manuscripts! The negotiating contracts part of being an agent is basically no bullshit, just business.
It’s funny, because even though it’s all just business (whether I take on an author as a client or not, how I edit, how and what the author writes, to whom I pitch, who I avoid, etc…) there’s an element to being an agent that (for me, anyway) transcends the agent/author or agent/editor business relationship. It’s one of the things I like about the world of publishing. I don’t know, maybe I just like book people. Since we’re all mostly a bunch of book nerds, who get excited about make-believe and telling stories to each other, I’m finding there’s a camaraderie that exists in this industry that is quite different than other industries. Or maybe I’m just hanging out with really nice people or something.
Do you think publishing people are particularly nice or am I living in my own little bubble?
I was having coffee with an editor the other day and we were discussing how we’re both drawn to edgy fiction. We both like to see characters struggle, be in difficult situations, overcome adversity (or at least try to). We like to read about things that are real, even if they’re fantastical. Real emotion. Real language. Real challenges. I’m not always drawn to the dark side of things but I also don’t shy away from it. I like keeping it interesting, you know?
One of the things she mentioned, and I hadn’t realized I felt the same way, is how stories don’t need to end all tied up nice and tidy. As a matter of fact, I’m noticing that I prefer some things left unresolved, some questions, some “hey, wait!” at the end of a manuscript. I kind of like some loose ends. I do also like happily ever after, sometimes. But maybe not, too.
How about you? Do you like everything all tidy at the end of the books you read? How about the things you write?
I know I promised I’d write about building yourself a platform but… not today! I’m just not in the mood. Can I just share with you? Yes, you! Stop smiling and looking over your shoulder. I’m talking to YOU, the person who’s reading this blog post. Ok then.
Today I had lunch with an editor, someone who I initially met on Twitter. It was so nice to meet somebody who actually looks like their profile picture! (I wonder… did she think the same thing of me? Do I look like my profile picture? Which profile pic did she look at? Straight hair? Curly?) We had a lovely lunch, talking about books, about what she’s looking for, about what I’m looking for, about reading, about my Grandmother, her father, trying to eat a frisee salad politely, ordering gluten free, about books, about authors, about books, about books, about books. Totally my kind of lunch.
One of the other things we talked about is remembering that there are people on the other side of those queries. It’s an issue I’ve mentioned before as something that is very important to me. I think it’s just good karma to be attentive to that; to try to be kind even if you have to pass on someone’s manuscript. You reap what you sow, kind of thing. And also, I’ve got years of being a bitch in my personal life to make up for. Karmically, that is.
That’s all. Just wanted to share that.
How was your day? Did you write? Did you talk about books to anybody? Did you eat frisee?