It has been an absolutely insane few weeks, thus Faith Hunter had to remind me it was my day to post on Magical Words. So sorry for the delay!
Always when I’m caught flatfooted, the easiest thing to do is just rant and rave about what’s on my mind. Today it’s that agents are people too. Oh, I know that a lot of you imagine us something like I used to picture the folks who came up with the SAT questions, as bridge trolls trying to keep people from passing, ready to trip the unwary and eat their hearts out. (Or maybe that’s just me?) But the truth is agents are first and foremost book people. Are we just like you? Well, if you’re a Type A workaholic with a constant schedule running through your head and the inability to relax, then the answer is yes. (Note: even with a book in hand, my stomach is churning in anguish over the hero or heroine’s hair-raising plight, and my fists are clenched as if I can fight their battles for them. Fun, yes. Relaxing…er, no.)
So about us being people too. This means that we have lives. Most of us, anyway. I’ll be the first person to tell you that I don’t have much of one, not with writing and agenting, but when I do choose to have a life—maybe taking (gasp) an entire morning and afternoon off to go to the Renaissance Faire with my family—I do not want to hear from someone who follows me on social media or whatever, “Well, you had time to do that, surely you’ve had time to read my manuscript.” Or, “You’re home sick reading. Hope it’s my work!” Yes, in the latter case you may be joking, but…. I read every evening. I read for three to five hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Every once in a while I’ll crash early and might only get an hour in. Other times I wake in the middle of the night with insomnia and pick up where I left off. Either way, I promise I’m reading as quickly as I can, and sometimes I feel that my pile is about triage…book A is late into production and needs to be read as soon as it comes in, book B has an offer on the table, proposal C is for an author not currently under contract and chomping at the bit…. It’s difficult enough for me to give myself permission to take a break. I do not need the external pressure. Trust me on this. If I don’t take time off every once in a while, I’ll burn out. Then I won’t be any good to anyone. And as far reading when I have a fever and a respiratory infection…it’s strictly limited to work I don’t have to evaluate, because I think it’s best for all involved if I actually have my brain about me at such times.
All of which is my way of saying be respectful of agents’ time and when they give freely of it with a critique, referral or recommendations, thanks are always appreciated. When we don’t, it’s not because you’re not worthy, but because we constantly have the next thing and the next pushing the queue forward and we’re frequently overwhelmed.