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.


Agents appear to be a "you need me, but I don't need you" group. I don't have one, probably because I have never tried. I did send an e-mail to one once, who may or may not have asked for it. Didn't hear back; didn't expect to. If you check agent's blogs, you will find dozens of hopefulls trying to be witty. Maybe the agents like the attention. Anyway, good luck. If you ever see the movies Funny Farm, Romancing the Stone, or Her Alibi, they have actor agents closer to what you want then in reality.

Hey Brooke! I was tlaking to a friend of mine, and she is looking for an agent. She had submitted to one and got a nasty letter in return.

I have heard of both bad and good outcomes to agent searches, and it is a little daunting.

Good job not letting her get to you, and realizing she wasn't worth your time already wasted waiting for her to show up!

John & CY...
I know you are both right. I knew when I ended the interview that I was doing the right thing...but you know...even though it is going on a month and even though I know it was a "good business decision", I still feel quite disappointed and maybe a bit disillusioned.
Oh is (no doubt) all part of the growing process...