Sunday, August 28, 2005

Reno High…and Low…

It is interesting and probably rather ironic that the high point and the low of point of Reno occurred within a span of six short minutes.

One of the biggest reasons I decided to attend RWA National this year was for an agent appointment. Back in May when sign-ups took place, I’d studied all the agents taking appointments, pondered their interests, checked-out their websites. And I picked one that seemed perfect. After all, her agency (not her, but her agency) represented one of my favorite authors. An author who writes the stories I love to read and try to write.

In retrospect, it was probably my conference “high point” that gave me the strength to deal with the “low point”. When a new writer begins the agent search, it is most difficult to keep in mind that we are the “employer” and the agent is the “employee”. We are ever so grateful if they offer to look at our work. Promoting them to god and goddess status is a given.

But the bottom line is this: there has to be, there must be, mutual respect and camaraderie. The agent/author (and yes…the fact that I’ve listed the word “agent” first there is not lost on me…) relationship is one of teamwork. Both sides must be equal participants; both sides must have the same goals and hopes and dreams.

Flash back to July 30th…the day of my agent meeting… My appointment was pushed back 15 minutes because the agent was late in arriving. When the moderator brought me over to her, Ms. Agent insisted she was done for the day; that she had done her time (pretty much her exact words…) and she’d done a workshop the day before. All of this right in front of me. The manner was curt and abrupt; no lightheartedness, there-must-be-some-mistake involved. When the moderator politely pointed out that the schedule had gotten off, Ms. Agent backed down. No apology to the moderator. No apology to me.

As I began my pitch, I could tell I was talking to a brick wall. But I doggedly continued…after all, maybe she had an insane hangover for all I knew. Then I said the wrong thing: I mentioned my stories are driven by internal conflict. She doesn’t like books like that. She likes external conflict. (Hmm…what is she doing promoting romance books my mind queried.) And so, I asked if the interview were over.

She then said the wrong thing to me: “Try to convince me.” Well… no…. The interview was over, and I told her so. I want someone who is excited about my career; not someone I have begged into taking me on.

I want an agent who is professional, on time (even if she does have the world’s worst hangover-headache…); one who is considerate and polite to others (whether she is right or wrong); and one who is excited about the business. Ms. Agent did not meet any of those basic requirements.

Just before meeting with Ms. Agent, I had chatted with another agent… a gal I felt an immediate rapport with. Someone I would love to chat with as a business partner, but we’d stray to more personal, day-to-day topics in our conversations.

This is the type of business-agent relationship I want. Will I find it with Friendly Agent? I don’t know (though she is on my top ten list!). But I do know that I shall keep looking for that type of partnership because I am striving for long-term representation. It might be hard to keep in mind that it is a two-way street, but then again… it is usually pretty hard to keep in mind that writing is a business pursuit as well as a passion.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Reno Reflections...

It is hard to believe that it’s been over a week since I hauled the weary body outta bed at 4:20AM to begin my week attending RWA’s National Conference in Reno. (See, I have this policy: when it is dark, you sleep…and trust me…it is damn dark at 4:20AM…)

Reflection Number One: It is dark at 4:30, 4:45, 5:00, 5:15, 5:30AM. Yes, I truly noted this.

Reflection Number Two: There are a LOT of people on the road at 5:30 AM…all going to work…and they drive just a nutty as when I am on the road at 7:30 AM.

Reflection Number Three: Reno looks much different in July than it does in December (which was the month I was there the first (and only) time I’ve been there…)

Reflection Number Four: Four to eleven percent humidity is very, very dry…I am used to sixteen percent or higher…and yes, I definitely noticed the difference.

Reflection Number Five: I was not insane or having flashbacks when I discovered the same local news I used to watch in San Francisco being shown on a Reno TV station (more about this in a future blog…)

Reflection Number Six: The food at this conference was basically…excellent. But…sadly…I bought a lot of $20 drinks! Darn gambling affliction…

Reflection Number Seven: The hotel staff at this conference was awesome.

Reflection Number Eight: Taxi cab drivers everywhere drive crazy…it must be a code they have to follow.

Reflection Number Nine: I am a lot more self-assured than I give myself credit for (yep…more about this in a future blog…)

Reflection Number Ten: I know a lot about writing…now I just need to do it…

Reflection Number Eleven: The Awards Ceremony…very interesting! (You got it! More about this in a future blog!)

Reflection Number Twelve: I had a very good time! I am glad I went.