Special Guest Friday: Lucienne Diver

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Between the four of us, we discovered that we know a lot of interesting and exciting people in the writing world, and we’ve enjoyed bringing them here to visit with all our readers. Today we’re particularly thrilled to present Lucienne Diver! *wild applause* Take it away, Lucienne!

“Got to Keep ‘em Separated” by Lucienne Diver

Most people are surprised to discover that as an author I have an agent of my own. This is because I simply can’t be both at once. As an agent with over sixteen years in the business, I’m confident. I know how hard to push and on what points. As an author, I want anyone who makes me an offer to sign on the dotted line as quickly as possible before they come to their senses. Negotiation is a word without meaning. Haggling is right out. Obviously, these two perspectives are at odds, so I need someone to play the agent role when I’m in author mode.
This is how a conversation between my two selves might go. Now, keep in mind that the only author reflected here is my own alter ego. Any resemblance to other authors living or undead is purely coincidental.

Author: You mean Publisher X wants my work?! Ohmagod, ohmagod, ohmagod. Sure, yes! You didn’t have to promise them my first born, did you? I’m kind of attached to him, but I guess as long as I have visitation rights….
Agent: (Laughs) Not so fast. We need to discuss limiting the territories, tweaking the royalty breaks, the out of print clause and high discount language. I want to go over their boilerplate.
Author: If you think that won’t scare them off. I’m just so excited that they want to publish my work.
Agent: It’s called Negotiation. I do it all the time.
Author: Negotiation? Is that anything like Valium? I think I could use one of those right now.

Okay, as you can see, this whole thing might devolve rather quickly into a Three Faces of Eve scenario, a battle over dominance of my mind, such as it is. So, when I’m an author (primarily between the ungodly hours of 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. when I write), I’m an author with someone entirely different and more detached to play devil’s advocate during business hours. When I’m an agent (the other 95% of my time), I’m an agent with someone else to focus on the business part of my career while I focus on my own clients. And never the twain shall meet.

Now, you might say that it’s impossible to keep the two sides wholly separate. We do share a brain, after all. Well, that’s true. My writing informs my agenting in several ways:
1-The promotional lessons I learn from marketing my own work I can pass along to my writers.
2-Learning to spot and overcome certain issues in my writing has made me into a better critical reader and editor for my authors.
3-I have a special empathy for what writes go through with rejections, editorial letters, copyedits, etc. and keep myself to tight turn-around times and open communication accordingly.

Does my agenting inform my writing? Well, yes. I know what various houses are looking for, and while I don’t write to those markets, it helps my agent and I brainstorm over submissions. Also, I have some contacts which aid me in promoting my novel and a perspective on the way the business works and what to expect.
Primarily, though, my two sides are like the night and day shift, waving to each other as they clock in and out, maybe occasionally getting together for coffee and scones. Both sides appreciate a good scone. It’s what brings us together.

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Lucienne Diver is a sixteen year veteran of the publishing business.  She began as an agent at NYC’s Spectrum Literary Agency and moved last year to the dynamic Knight Agency. She represents over forty authors of fantasy, science fiction, romance, mystery and suspense. She’s also the author of the young adult novel VAMPED, just released in trade paperback from Flux. She can be found on her blog or on her website.
To celebrate the release of VAMPED, Shooting Stars Mag will be running a “Test Your Vampire IQ” contest throughout the month of May with a goody giveaway. Also, whether you like your author/agents sunny side up or extra crispy, Lucienne will be available for roasting over an open fire on May 7th at Bookroast. Check her website or blog for more gaffs and goodies.

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24 comments to Special Guest Friday: Lucienne Diver

  • Your agent/author sounds like my marriage. :) I’m glad you addressed this topic today, because I was very curious about the details – and I’m secretly pleased that you ohmagod! just like the rest of us!

  • I think being both an agent and an author gives you an advantage as an agent because you can really empathize with your clients.

  • Hey, Emily! Thanks for attending the chat last night and coming by Magical Words today!

  • From one schizoid brain to the others…

    To the writer’s brain: I’ve got an early copy of Vamped, and it is my bedtime reading. I totally love the YA character and might describe her (at this point in the book) as a …
    Vampy, campy, grave-digger gold-digger, ultra high maintenance girl in need of a manicure, a good stylist, and muscle-man bodyguard. I’ve had only a glimpse into the writer’s mind, but girl, you got today’s teen down pat!

    As to the agent’s brain, let me say, you keep me in the loop and know how to deliver both good news and bad news with just the right touch. Both of my personalities prefer the good news, BTW. (grins)

  • Like Faith, I’m one of Lucienne’s clients, and I can say without hesitation that I can’t imagine a better agent. She’s responsive, sympathetic, realistic, and amazingly patient. I haven’t read VAMPED yet, but I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a copy.

    Thanks for the post, Lucienne. I’ve wondered how you reconcile the two sides of your professional life.

  • Aw, David and Faith, you’re making me misty. Gina (my campy, vampy heroine) would have a major problem with that; it might smudge my make-up, but since I’m not wearing any….

  • Beatriz

    Lucienne– great post. It’s always neat to hear that authors are “real people” just like the rest of us and do the “OMG” thing in their heads when good news arrives.

    Faith– thanks for the description. Now I have to stop at the bookstore on my way home. If I don’t get any chores done this weekend I’m blaming you and Lucienne!!

  • Lucienne >> What do you find easier/harder, agenting or authoring? Have you ever thought about becomeing a full-time author? Do you tailor the stories that you write to the trends that you see developing while you are agenting?

  • L. Jagi Lamplighter

    Great article. I’m going to bring it up from now on whenever want-to-be writers talk to me about why they think they can do without an agent!

  • Lucienne said, Aw, David and Faith, you’re making me misty.

    But…but…I’m Misty!

    *grins*

  • Mark,
    Actually, of the two, I find agenting easier. Writing is a compulsion, especially once the voices start talking in my head and I need to get them down on paper . I love writing. However, because my agent-self is confident and decisive and my author-self is a bit on the neurotic side, I find that I don’t have an urge to be the latter full time. I’m very happy being able to escape into my agenting, leaving me far less time than would be healthy for me to obsess! Plus, I love my authors. I can’t imagine giving them up.

    No, I don’t tailor stories to trends in the market. I’m very character-driven. Most of my novels and short stories start with a voice, snippets of dialogue, then I find I need to give these characters something to do and from that the plot arises, so the story develops based on the internal needs of my people rather than the external drives of the market. Yes, my characters actually become so real to me that I talk about them as if they exist.
    -Lucienne

  • >>But…but…I’m Misty! *grins*
    Snicker

    >>Gina (my campy, vampy heroine) would have a major problem with that; it might smudge my make-up, but since I’m not wearing any….

    (Gasp) You’re not wearing makeup???
    Oh. Wait. I’ve seen you in person. You don’t *need* makeup, you evil, beautiful witch. You naturally have H&Bs…
    Inside joke.

  • Faith, you’re so funny! Actually, I have some on now. As if Hugh Jackman might actually look down from the screen and see me when I go to watch him as Wolverine!

  • Misty…and you’re darn good at it too! You’re right, hmm, let’s see, I’ve already been Kit Daniels and Lucienne Diver. Who’s next? (Oh, and in my haunted mansion days I was a swamp witch, a psychopathic chef, a gypsy, a cavewoman….)

  • I’m glad I stumbled across the chat link on Twitter – very neat experience and I’ll definitely attend more. :)

    Also: yay, I have a copy of VAMPED! I trolled through the YA section for ten minutes before I finally went and asked for help – the customer service rep told me I was the third person to ask for a copy (this was at noon). So at least in Ellicott City, MD, VAMPED is in very high demand. Congratulations!

  • Emily, I =love= Ellicott City. It’s such a wonderful, crafty, adorable town! I was born in Baltimore and have a bunch of family still in the area.

  • Hi Lucienne. I really enjoy hearing your perspective on balancing being an agent with writing, because I do a similar thing (albeit on a much smaller, less public scale *g*). I’m a writer and an editor at an e-publisher, not to mention a proofreader at my day job. Sometimes I find editing to be an escape, because it uses a different part of my brain. It’s also where I feel more in control. Writing can really suck the lifeblood out of you – just had to use a vampy reference in honor of Vamped’s release! Can’t wait to pick it up. :)

  • Ellicott City IS adorable. I love that I can hop in my car, drive a mile, and feel like I’ve entered an artsy village. We had gorgeous weather last weekend and Main Street looked like a miniature street fair, complete with a bubble-blowing performer and shop keepers selling from their doorsteps.

    I’m slightly ashamed to admit, though, that I mostly see Main Street by moonlight. My musician coworkers/friends are more interested in the Old Ellicott City pub crawl than the tea house crawl.

  • For those who might send queries to Lucienne, I just wanted to comment that she is prompt in getting back to you (from my experience, anyway). If I recall correctly, I heard back within a month. I’ve had some bad response-time experiences (over 9 months from two agents) on a novel I wrote, so I really appreciated the quick response time–even though it was bad news.

    She’s a class act, gang, so have your ducks in a row if/when you query.

  • Lucienne said, Misty…and you’re darn good at it too!

    *blushes* Aw, thanks! Years of practice.

    Tell you what…if you’re ever feeling like being Misty, I’ll just be Mahisti (my dance persona), and we’ll confuse everyone!

  • Susan James

    The split personality conversation was hilarious. I can definitely relate to your author side. BTW- my daughter liked Vamp a lot. Now, its on the top of my TBR pile. I’m actually reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula right now. Its, uh, not quite what I was expecting. I may just be reaching for Vamp tonight.

  • Christina, thanks so much!

    Susan, I’m so glad to hear your daughter liked Vamped! I hope if you reach for it you like it as well. It’s always so odd to read classics after a genre has grown and changed around them. I remember a weird feeling of “that’s it” when I read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde a few years ago. I think it’s because I knew the basic story, so I was reading the novel itself looking for more depth and psychology. If I’d read it back when it was first published, not knowing what to expect I probably would have come to it from an entirely different perspective and been really blown away.

  • Finished Vamped.
    Loved it!
    (feet stomping boogie!)
    So when’s the next one? You kinda left us with a cliffhanger, girl. (smiles)

  • Thanks, Faith!!! The next one will be out in 2010. September or October, they’re telling me. I can’t wait!