STATUS: Stir-crazy. It’s really cold here in Denver. Too cold to take Chutney out—even with her little fleece on. She just shivers non-stop. She’s dying to sit on my lap but the rule is, no lap sitting while I’m at my computer. She’s sending kind invitations for me to sit on the couch.
What song is playing on the ipod right now? GRAPEFRUIT—JUICY FRUIT by Jimmy Buffet
Isn’t the subject line for this rant a fun visual? Picture all the agents you know in a giant group hug. Okay, maybe not.
So, how do agents actually help each other? Let me count the ways.
1. Happy Hours. Whenever I’m at RWA or in New York, I tend to get together with a group of agents. We talk shop. No one in the world understands our job better than a fellow agent. Keeps us sane.
2. Blurb time. Many of us have well-known clients on our rosters. Nothing better than a little agent networking to get some good blurbs for a new writer.
3. Referrals. One of my agent friends sent me Linnea Sinclair. She loved her work but didn’t really have room on her list. She sent her to me and she’s one of my stars. How’s that for non-competitive?
4. Workshop and conference fun. Because I’ve got great agent friends in New York and California and Georgia and Washington, D.C. (you get the picture), we love to hang out. One way to do that is by attending conferences together and then having a great time doing a workshop. The attendees benefit from the collaboration as well. Agent Jeff Kleinman has a great workshop called BUY THIS BOOK and I’ve done that class with him twice. The participants love the synergy. I did a great workshop with Randi Murray and Cathy Fowler at the Surrey International conference last year. Randi and I handled the fiction aspects and Cathy tackled nonfiction. Talk about benefiting from the wisdom of three agents. Besides, they made me look good…
5. Query forwards. It doesn’t happen often but every once in a while I’ll get a query that I really like—usually for a nonfiction project. It’s not for me but I’ll forward the query on to my fellow agents. If it sounds right for them and they give me a positive heads up, I’ll respond to the original writer tell them to contact this agent and that I’ve already forwarded the email. Vice-versa. Some good hook-ups have happened this way.
6. Grapevine. Boy, we keep each other in the loop. I know the minute an editor is leaving a house or is looking to buy XYZ. It goes out on the wire lickety-split. Even the editors are sometimes amazed (how did you know I wanted a fun historical—or whatever it is they are looking for). I just say in a mysterious voice, “we agents have ways.”
7. Brainstorming. Sometimes a project just doesn’t sell and you’re at the bottom of the editor contact list barrel. My agent friends give me another barrel to try—maybe off-the-wall suggestions or an editor I don’t know personally. Suddenly, I’ve got a whole new avenue to explore. Occasionally, one of my clients will do something outside their normal realm and I still rep the project. My agent friends allow me to use their expertise by picking their brains.
8. Introductions. Agent friends have literally introduced me to their favorite editors—editors that I’ve never met before but they adore them and convince me to as well.
And the list goes on.