Pub Rants

Agents In A Big Group Hug?

 17 Comments |  Share This:    

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.

17 Responses

  1. Kathleen Rainwater said:

    Hi Kristen!

    I was at the RMMWA meeting a few weeks back when you guested. Thank you again for all your advice and giving us a great overall picture of agents and What They Do.

    It took some of the mystery (sorry) out of the query process.
    I also need to say thanks for your blog…it led me to the Fabulous Miss Snark. She is constantly entertaining and educational.

    I’m in Colorado Springs – the snow is…interesting.


  2. Pennyoz said:

    Kathleen be reassured that I read your reply and it suprises me you worried it sounded rude… I read it three times looking for rude and I couldn’t find any evidence of it 🙂

    Networking is one of the most important tools in any trade. It’s a very basic one. That and industry magazines/newsletters.

    And also, I find that networking is very comforting. These people do what you do, understand what you go through, know the hi and lo and are your cheersquad.

    Gee, without networks, it’d be like having lunch by yourself in the schoolyard.


  3. MTV said:

    Sometimes it’s cold out here in the schoolyard! Anyone wanna split a peanut butter sandwich?


    Group Hug!!!


  4. Linnea Sinclair said:

    Awwww, Miz K. ::shuffles feet and looks sheepish:: One of my crit partners gave me a heads-up that you’d mentioned me. Big smoochies from yours truly in the Most Majorest Deadline Hell she’s ever experienced. I needed a grin. You’re the bestest, girlie! Not only a star to me but a whole bleepin’ galaxy. Thanks! ~ Linnea

  5. Jean said:

    Wow! Just heard the news…18 degrees in Denver. And I was complaining because it was only 61 today. I’ll take my 61 over your 18 any day:-)

  6. Dana Y. T. Lin said:

    When I think of group hugs, I think of Barney and how he ends his shows with this song,

    “I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family with a great big kiss and a hug from me to you, won’t you say you love me, too?”

    Hm. That’s kinda sweet actually.

  7. Eileen said:

    Maybe I had a jaded childhood, but that Barney song makes me want to bop him right in his purple snout.

    IMHO, Life is too short, winter too long- I advise letting Chutney into your lap computer rule or not. Warm dog= happy dog= no shoe chewing

  8. MTV said:

    Eileen – if you had a jaded childhood – hurray for jaded Childhoods. Fortunately, I never had to suffer through Barney – Seasame Street, but not Barney.

    Now Oscar the grouch, there is character development in spades… -:)!!

    I mean life in garbage can has to affect your outlook!


  9. Anonymous said:

    Seriously, don’t you play anything newer than 1979? But I think it’s great your 8-track player’s held up this long.

  10. srchamberlain said:

    Anonymous: go work on the manuscript that Kristin rejected. I promise you, in all seriousness, that it will be a better use of your time than trolling.

    Writers. *shudder*

  11. Deidre Knight said:

    You know, tastes in music just like tastes in manuscripts, etc..are always subjective. Geez, if the only thing anonymous has gotten from all your great info is that your taste in music doesn’t jive with theirs, then…???

    Kristin, you know I love you. But I just thought I’d say I *really* love you! LOL!!! These posts about the nature of agent/agent friendships are wonderful. Someone a way back asked you to post on how we felt about “competing” against one another in selling our clients to limited slots. For some reason the “slot” mentality of publishing stays in currency. Maybe you’ll address that at some point?? 🙂
    Your fan,

  12. Jenny Bent said:

    Kristin, Mary J. is the BEST, and you have great taste in music. Why are the nasty ones always anonymous? If you’re going to be obnoxious, at least own it, y’know?

  13. Jon Clinch said:

    I actually like “Grapefruit, Juicy Friut.” (And I’m old enough to have seen J.B. perform it solo at the Main Point in Philadelphia, circa 1976.

    So there, Anonymous.