Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Myth Buster #2—Lunching Is No Daily Event

STATUS: I’m heading to the beach in 5 minutes. What mood do you think I’m in?

What’s playing on the iPod right now? No little iPod.

Writers have a romantic view of agents dreamily heading out to lunch with editors on a daily basis. We dine and do business over yummy sushi or whatever.

Actually there are two myths involved here.

Myth #1—Daily lunches

Myth #2—Conducting deal business over lunch.

So let’s tackle Myth 1 to start.

If editors and agents actually lunched every day, they would never get enough work done. Lunches take a huge chunk out of the day—on average about 2 hours. We don’t lunch lightly. It has to be worth the time investment considering that both of us will have to stay late in order to finish what didn’t happen while we were out to lunch. We literally haven’t got time for daily lunches.

Since I’m out in Denver (but travel to New York often—as do all other non-NYC based agents), I decided to poll some of my New York-based agent friends to see how often they went to lunch with editors. After all, they are just right there. They should be lunching often. Once a week. Twice a week? What do you think?

Now obviously this will really vary per agent. Some might lunch more than others.

On average, my NYC-based agent friends went to lunch with editors about twice a month. That adds up to about 24 to 30 lunches in a year.

Guess how many lunches with editors I do in a year? You guessed it. About 24-30 lunches.

And here’s another aspect of this (and this is true for NYC-based agents as well as Non-NYC agents). A lot of these lunches are not done in New York City.

Surprise!

These lunches can occur at Book Expo (which is not always held in the Big Apple), at RWA, World Fantasy, World Con, BoucherCon, ThrillerFest, Children’s Book Fair, and gosh yes, even at the popular writers conferences.

Not in NYC.

And here’s another myth buster for you. It can happen but it happens rarely that an actual deal will be negotiated over lunch. That’s not the kind of business we do when eating (Deal making and digestion—two things that shouldn’t go together). So tomorrow, I’ll give you a little peek inside what actually does occur at the editor/agent lunch.

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14 Responses

  1. An Aspiring Writer said:

    Wow, I had no idea. At the RTCon, I saw agents, editors, book sellers, and authors paired up with their heads together and had this romanticized image of how you guys work your magic several times a week over a chicken ceasar salad.

    That’s a really big myth you busted there, Kristin. I’m with maprilynne, I can’t wait to find out what actually happens at those rare lunches!

    ENJOY THE BEACH!! *wistful sigh*

  2. katiesandwich said:

    Kristin, you’re so awesome! Thanks for the information. Also, I’m so jealous. Why can’t MY husband go to cool places for his business trips, instead of places like Shell Lake, Wisconsin? (Which was very pretty, but also had a population of about 3.)

  3. Zany Mom said:

    Maybe the myth started with the movies and TV. You know, how everyone who is anyone in New York City ‘does lunch’ on a regular basis.

    A city myth, or urban legend, if you will.

    Lunch does seem a highly inefficient way to do business.

    I once interviewed for a job, and the interview was for ALL DAY. I was taken to lunch. Nothing like having to worry about lettuce stuck in your teeth while trying to make a good impression.

  4. Marion Gropen said:

    Yup, this myth is probably from the movies. From the other side, I know that our editors didn’t go to lunch very often either.

    On a related note, I about died laughing the time Law & Order borrowed my last company’s offices for a shoot. Real publishing offices, redressed. Entirely wrong cast. And when a producer saw the staff hooting over how wrong it was, he asked for tips, and then shook his head and told us he could never sell THAT to his audience. (sigh)

  5. Anonymous said:

    one more reason why out-of-NY agents are just as good as NY agents. thanks for tackling that myth for us.

  6. Meet said:

    Barbara: I enjoy fantasy, but I tlypcaliy gravitate towards grounded fantasy, meaning the world of the novel is still recognizable as our own, even though there are fantastical elements. Or, there are parallel worlds: ours, and another that’s been discovered by the main character. High fantasy, on the other hand, is not my area of expertise. As far as “character-driven” fiction, regardless of the genre, I would say I’m always interested in great characters and great voices. Ultimately I have to care about the characters to keep reading. However, I would also say that you can’t rely on great characters alone–interesting things have to happen to them! So I look for a story to be plot-driven first, and if the story moves and also has great characters and a great voice, then we have a winner.

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