Another Reason Why You Want a (Good) Agent

I know I’m sort of a poster child for getting my first book deal without an agent, and I know I’ve talked before about why I’m so grateful to have an agent now, but I wanted to point out one more reason why getting an agent, a good agent, can help you in more ways than you initially realize: a good agent can save you from yourself.

I know I need a lot of self-saving!

So, just in case you haven’t seen this on Twitter or elsewhere, check out this post, “Think Before You Kvetch,” on the DGLM agency blog.

Full disclosure: Yes, that’s my agent talking. Yes, he’s very smart and I trust his advice here.

Publishing a book is a complicated, emotional, confusing process that is probably never exactly what you expect it to be. I really believe that following the advice in that post can only make it better.

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Agent Appreciation Day!

I am taking a break from my regularly scheduled angsting and deadline-driven antisocial behavior to join in Agent Appreciation Day and say a public thank-you to the person who’s making my dreams come true!

About seven-and-a-half months ago I found an agent. That whirlwind day was captured in this breathless blog post where I was initially so in shock over what happened that I was afraid to even type his name… for fear he’d take it back or something.

The agent in question? The awesome Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

Since May 1, the day I like to say I “picked” Michael, he put me to work writing more pages for my manuscript, made me revise my synopsis multiple times, and got me to push myself till it was in fighting shape. Then, when it was ready, he went off and—in a whole new whirlwind you wouldn’t believe if I told you—sold my novel based on four chapters… at an auction… to my dream publisher… in a two-book deal, which almost made me faint in shock. Looking back, I’m surprised that I stayed conscious. And all of that is the reason I’m working like crazy right now and I’ve sworn off* social networking till the New Year—because my deadline is fast approaching and I don’t want to let my agent or my new publisher down!

Here are five reasons why I love my agent:

1. He saw something in me I couldn’t see in myself. And his belief in me makes me work harder than ever to prove it true.

2. He “gets” me and he “gets” my novel. He also knows exactly how to handle the sensitive writer type because, Hi, I am Exhibit A.

3. He has vision and he thinks ahead—with my career, with new technologies, with the publishing industry… I feel well-prepared to face the future with him on my side.

4. He is a fighter. And he’s proven this time and again.

5. He makes me feel important. He’s always approachable, he speedily answers every inane question I have, and I know he’s there when I need him.

I have to add another reason, because:

6. Oh and yeah, there’s that little part I should mention about how he’s making my dreams come true. Seriously, who does that? Oh I know: Michael Bourret.

I know I got lucky, and reading all these other Agent Appreciation Day posts makes me see that so many other writers did too! The agent’s job is something I didn’t fully understand before I had one (and I even assisted in a literary agency once). Maybe it’s so hard to explain because a good agent can do so much for you. Michael Bourret is one of the good ones. I hope he knows he’s appreciated!

For a list of all the authors appreciating their agents today, see Lisa and Laura’s blog post. And props to Kody Keplinger for coming up with this great idea!

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* Haha. Breaking my own rules to tweet this post.

The Day Literary Agents Go Extinct…

…is the day I am in Big Trouble.

So there was an alarming post in Galley Cat yesterday—and I was happy to wake up this morning and see my agency’s response here on their blog.

I like this especially:

At the risk of sounding self-serving, every serious author needs an agent. Not just any agent, of course. You need a good agent. One who is an advocate, who is willing to fight for you and who is able to tell you when you’re being unreasonable and doing your career more harm than good. You need someone who’ll tell you they believe in you when you think you’re the biggest literary fraud since James Frey (who is actually a very good writer despite his questionable morals). You need someone who asks about your ailing grandmother and vets your contracts. You need someone who will look at your royalty statements and make sure that the publisher isn’t holding a 75% reserve for returns. You need someone who is willing to try to place foreign rights to a book that is so hopelessly American that no one outside of the 50 states would want to read it. You need someone who will do battle with your publishing team and make sure they still like you despite the fact that you aren’t always discreet about them in your Facebook posts. You need someone who’ll see you through the process from idea to publication to the inevitable disappointment when the publicity for your book is done with before you noticed it had started. And, you need an agent because in these trying times, we’re sometimes the only people who offer continuity and stability in what everyone hopes is a long career. [see here for the whole post]

Um—blushing furiously over mistakes I know I’ve made—yeah, I sure need mine.

As a writer who started out without an agent and sold that first book without one, which may make it seem like you don’t need an agent, all I’ll say is I’ve had it both ways and I know what I need to make a career out of this: a good agent. I’m hoping to keep mine for the whole of my career; he’s done so much more for me than just negotiating a contract—which he did amazingly, btw. Just add me in as one more writer grateful for the time, attention, expertise, support, honesty, and imagination my agent has given me so far.

I know how this reads, when you don’t have an agent. Yeah-yeah-yeah they’re helpful and they’re pretty awesome and you’re so happy and just rub my face in it why don’t you. I’ve been there, so how do you go about getting one in the first place? Here’s some query advice, not from me, from someone who knows what he’s talking about.

All this is pretty timely because literary agents are on my mind today. Not for me, for a friend. A talented writer I’ve known for years is sending out his queries today. I hope he finds the absolute best agent for him and his book. All my good publishing vibes are in his corner. C’mon, agents, snatch him up quick!

(More on Galley Cat today: Literary Agents React!)

Awkward Elevator Moments: Literary Agent Edition

It’s an especially auspicious start to your day at your office job when you run into a literary agent who rejected you on the elevator.

When introduced, hope he does not recognize your name, smile, and say simply, “It’s nice to meet you.” Do not say, “Why didn’t you give my novel a chance?” or “What’s wrong with me?” or “You made me cry.”

If you are lucky, the literary agent who rejected you won’t care who you are one way or the other. He will smile and nod and get off on the floor he’s visiting (which also happens to be your floor) without further conversation.

If you are not lucky, the literary agent who rejected you will remember your name, even though he rejected you at least two years ago. He will say, “Oh, yes. We corresponded.” And that verb, seeming so veiled and personal at the same time, will shoot straight to your heart. You will remember that the correspondence in question was only you sending him pages because his client recommended you do so, and him having his assistant send a “Dear Writer” form letter back. Technically, you would not call this correspondence, but it’s better not to argue with a literary agent who rejected you, especially in person, on an elevator, first thing in the morning. All you can do is nod. There is nothing more to say, really.

Expect many an awkward moment to follow. If you are lucky, the elevator will reach your floor safely. Be pleased when the doors do open. If you are not lucky, you could be trapped in an elevator with a literary agent who rejected you, a story that could not end happily, no matter who writes it.

When the elevator ride is over, the literary agent who rejected you will step off the elevator with a wave. Keep it together. Do not run after the agent. Do not ask for another chance. Feel free to walk to your desk, wondering how your life might have turned out if the so-called correspondence ended some other way. It is okay to breathe now. There is a good chance you will not run into another literary agent who rejected you for at least the rest of the day.

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Have you had an awkward moment with a literary agent lately? Do share…