Monday, August 16, 2010
Things Writers Wish Their Agents Knew
Writers are neurotic, needy people. There, I said it. For an industry that requires a thick skin for rejections and bad reviews, the people that inhabit it seem to be made of Kleenex. I know of what I speak, although none of these suggestions are based on my relationship with the lovely Agent E. She is perfect.
A lot of times in the very complicated agent/author relationship, a mountain is made of a teeny tiny molehill. A molehill which writers are often too uncomfortable to address. I've seen many writer/agent relationships go south over some little point that blows up into a big split that could have been taken care of with a few seconds worth of communication. I've seen a lot of marriages end that way too, but that is another blog post altogether.
I get to talk to a lot of agents at conferences and online and it amazes me what they don't know about us, so I thought I'd put together a little list of things we wish agents knew in an attempt to avoid the future growth of molehills.
* We want you to have a web presence. I see a lot of posts about how authors should have some sort of web presence so that people can find out more about you. Right backatcha. Writers love to see their agents online, flogging their good news, showing their covers and generally cheerleading for their clients. You don't have to be Nathan Bransford or Kristin Nelson (who have awesome and informative blogs), but we'd love to see a little something. Facebook, Twitter, blog or just have a website with info you update every now and then. It's 2010, and all the cool kids are doing it.
* Our book birthday is whatever Amazon says it is. Like most other aspects of modern life, Amazon rules. I've talked to several agents who like to think of a book release week or month rather than a specific day. Yeah, no. Amazon posts the day they say your book comes out and that date gets cemented in the minds of everyone who is paying attention. Bloggers make countdown widgets for that day. Twitter book birthday parties are celebrated on that day. Trust me, IT IS A BIG DEAL. You don't have to send flowers or champagne that day (although I'm sure we wouldn't say no to the delivery guy), but do send at least an email that morning with some congratulatory thing in it. Other people will, and yours will be missed.
* We have a 24 hour window for answering emails before we start freaking out. We need constant reassurance that we matter, and if we send an angsty email that doesn't get answered for days we jump to the worst conclusion we can think of. You've dropped us and forgot to tell us about it. Nobody but nobody will ever want to buy our book. We'd better not quit our day job because we'll never sell another thing. The fact that you're really really busy won't really occur to us until later. I know an agent who regularly answers client emails with "Sure" or "Nope". That'll do.
*Bad things can happen if you forward rejections when we really can't take it. Or don't send us rejections hoping to spare our feelings when we are control freaks and want to know about every detail. Probably best to ask.
I'm sure there are more - feel free to contribute (you can post anonymously) additional suggestions.
On this date: In 1991, My Own Private Idaho debuts.