Literary Agents: Top Ten Ways to Make or Break that Relationship, Number 3: The Agent at Cons, Part Two


We talked a couple of weeks ago about the agent at a con, and this week I want to touch on (quickly because I am behinder and behinder) the agent at a Con if that agent is also a writer. Yeah. That person is busy. Besides being there for the usual things that agents do, as we covered in the last post on this subject: (quick recap is underlined here in case you missed it) to meet prospective clients, socialize with clients, meet with other agents and talk shop, chat up new and already-friends editors, talk up their newest writer-find (if they have something new and explosively exciting that is about to be sent to editors), share with editors all the excitement about their existing clients (so the editors can gnash their teeth remembering when they didn’t buy that client’s book), attend way too many parties where they don’t dare drink but a half glass of anything that might relax them because they have another party to go to in an hour, and, well, they never stop. If they get a headache or backache they can’t quit and lie down. If they need their medication (allergy or anything that makes them sleepy) they may not be able to take a full dose because it could interfere with the work. If they get bad news from home, they can’t show it. They are on go from the moment they rise until they fall into bed at night (assuming these supermen and superwomen sleep, that is) this super-duper-woman or man is also there to meet with fans and other writers and network and do PR and …

I get exhausted just thinking about it. This writer/agent, which includes our own Lucienne Diver, has to act the total professional at all times, putting on and taking off hats at the … uh … drop of a hat … (I know. Groan.). He / she has to be constantly on alert and ready to sprint, mentally or physically for the next opportunity. I, and the other MW folk attending Dragon Con, have a minion with our schedules on her cell phone, and our best interests at heart. Not all writer/agents, or even just all writers, have that, and trust me, I would not want to be at this con without the minion. (Waves to minion!)

So what can you do to help this writer / agent (or just us writers)? If you are in the fangirl / fanboy mode, you can talk about the writer’s books and encourage sales. You can buy a T-shirt or other merchandize and wear it as a living breathing walking talking ad. You can buy a book and get it signed, even if you have one at home and know this one will go to a pal at work. You can carry an unopened bottle of water to offer. (See part one of this post about the bag of emergency supplies.) You can know where the bathroom-cola machine-nearest exit is. You can be kind. Kindness is horribly underrated and so much appreciated by the harried professionals (and by anyone) at a Con (and anywhere). Kindness is a skill. We should all practice kindness because it’s hard, and like any emotional muscle, it atrophies with disuse and the person not exercising the kindness muscle become an old curmudgeon or harridan. A Con is a great place to work that muscle!

And you can look for the opportunity for being the hero with that bag of emergency equipment-supplies. Or you could even be a hero by pulling the writer / agent from in front of a runaway bus. Okay, that one is quite unlikely, but hey, it could happen. J

And you can keep that blurb memorized and ready to go!

Have memorized your 20 blurb / pitch. We did a short seminar here on them. You need to sound professional when the agent / writer you have pulled from in front of a runaway bus asks what you write. J

Next week, I’ll have to look back and see what I missed in the Lit Agent stuff. Soon we’ll be done! Whoot! Until then, I’ll be at booth 100 and 102 at Dragon Con!

 TOP TEN list (revised)

  1. The agent as Negotiator — The Agent as Bad Cop to your Good Cop
  2. The Agent as Superman/Superwoman
  3. The Agent at Cons (parts one and two)
  4. The Agent as Friend (when that is possible)
  5. When to Send Prezzies: (cards or gifts and what works and what doesn’t)
  6. When to Expect Your Agent to Drop Everything and Return Your Call/Email
  7. When the Agent Says No (to a new project after you have signed with and worked with him/her for a while)
  8. Know When to Say Goodbye: (when your agent has more problems than you do: Alzheimer’s, health issues, mental issues, drug abuse, bringing in the next {but flakey or dishonest} generation to run the family biz, refusing to pay royalties, lawsuits, and lots of other crazy stuff)
  9. Miscellaneous Stupidities (firing an agent improperly, dividing royalties, divided loyalties, having a big mouth, etc.)
  10. Keep the Agent in the Loop (and the times I failed at this





8 comments to Literary Agents: Top Ten Ways to Make or Break that Relationship, Number 3: The Agent at Cons, Part Two

  • You have a minion? That you all share??? As Mr Vader was wont to occasionally say, “Impressive!”

  • Ya gotta take care of yourself. In my day job, I make a point of stepping out of the office on a regular basis for a breather. 15 minutes every two hours, ‘cept for lunch which is longer. I count that as critical for my job.

    Were I an agent/writer/publisher/superwoman, I’d schedule an hour or two a day for decompression time. Not eating/drinking with friends or potential friends or business associates, not going to parties, nothing like that. SImply going up to my room, watching TV for an hour, taking a shower, crying into my pillow, whatever it takes for a little recharge.

    It’s about prioritization. If it helps you keep on your game, then it’s probably a better use of time than networking for that hour. Being vacant, rude, apathetic, or whatever could actually damage your relationship with clients and potential clients.

    Well, at least that’s what I’ve noticed from my day job. I’m not an agent/writer, so I can’t exactly speak on that.

  • Hear, hear! especially to the part about practicing kindness. It’s been a frustrating week here in CA and every time someone shows me a bit of human kindness it touches me deeply and I’m trying to return/pass forward the same kindness.

    PS – I hope all you MWs on the East Coast are safe and well after Irene!

  • Yea for our super agent!

  • Any time I think about all the stuff Lucienne does (writing, agenting, parenting!) my brain starts to hurt. She is pretty amazing. And yes, kindness is a good thing, particularly at conventions, where all of us have lots of obligatations and lots of people to see/speak with. Be respectful, be considerate, share your favorite writers and agents with others around you, and keep a smile on your face. Faith, my darlin’, I will see you tomorrow! That goes for Misty, Minion, Kalayna, and A.J., too. Very excited.

  • Widder, yes, we share Bea. (waves to WonderMiinion!)

    Roxanne, I still hve not learned that myself. But I am trying to add the *skill of rest* to my box of tools!

    Sarah, I have been brought to tear in the very recent past by the kindness of others. And so far as I know — all are safe. (anyone out there need good vibes?)

    K — True dat!

    David. Ditto the headache when I think of all that Lucienne does. And … You call AJ darlin’?


  • Wowzers. I hope somebody helps Lucienne keep her head on straight during Dragon Con. Rescuing an agent from a speeding bus might not be all that common, but perhaps the over-zealous newbie writer. A side conversation with said newbie might be just as ‘saving’ as pulling said agent from four tons of steel and plastic.

    Good luck, have fun, and don’t forget to write.

  • Razziecat

    I hope you all have a great time at the con! Wish I was going too! Maybe next year… I must say I have an amusing image in my head of dozens of hopeful writers walking around with huge backpacks stuffed full of bottled water, snacks, aspirin, cookies, bacon…All of them squinting at name tags looking for ones marked “Agent.”