STATUS: It’s a Monday? Need I say more? I have to say I’m known for my reliability, responsiveness, and general punctuality. Can I just say that I completely missed an appointment today? And now I feel such incredible guilt for wasting another person’s valuable time. I’d like to blame it on the fact that my computer reminder didn’t ping but alas, I’m still responsible despite the failsafe (that wasn’t so reliable today).
What song is playing on the iPod right now? BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY by Queen
I have to say that just recently, I got a completely original interview question. That in itself is worth blogging about because unfortunately, new questions rarely happen. Almost all interviews I’ve participated in tend to revolve around the “how does a writer get an agent” variety.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the need for that since that seems to be one of the more pressing questions writers have and it makes sense for a writing publication to ask an agent that question.
But this interviewer is thinking outside of the box and now that she has asked this great question, I’m rather surprised that no one has asked me before.
She noticed that on my website, I state that “technology is meant to be used” and what do I mean by that.
Quite simply, I mean that as agents, we need to constantly evolve and use technology that’s available to us. So many folks are mired in what I call “the old ways” (this is how I’ve always done it) and if you want to succeed, you can’t be afraid of change and the technological tools that will allow you to do your job more quickly and easier.
Example #1: Accepting email queries.
I have many friends who just can’t get on board with this because they still love, for various reasons, the paper format. Perhaps it’s easier on the eyes to read or perhaps they think writers take more care with the writing of the letter if they will go to the length of paying $0.39 for the stamp or whatever.
I know many of my agent friends will hate me for this but I can’t help but think that’s just unnecessary old school.
If you’re an agent looking to build a client list, then it’s a numbers game and the faster you can get to a good project, the more likely you’ll be to land it. I know I’ve taken on many a good client because I was timely in my response via email.
I’m using technology to my advantage.
In fact, I’ve taken on one client in my career who couldn’t use email and wasn’t interested in learning.
Never again. My clients also need to be technologically savvy because that’s how I operate.
Example #2. Tablet PC, baby!
At Book Expo 2003, there was a technology center in a lovely space right in the middle of the exhibition.
And there were two people, besides me, there looking at the future of publishing. I kid you not. There was very little foot traffic flowing through.
But it was there I first saw demonstrated and got to play with a Tablet PC. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this technology, it’s a computer that I can actually handwrite on with a computer stylus and my notes are saved—either in my incredibly indecipherable and cramped handwriting or in the method I prefer, my handwriting translated pretty darn accurately into a different color typewritten text in track changes in Microsoft Word.
The minute I saw it, I had to have it. The dang thing cost a fortune in 2003 but I bought it and trust me, I’ve never looked back.
My clients electronically send me their manuscripts and I can edit (electronically by hand) while sitting on my couch. Quick turn around (providing, that is, six of my clients haven’t all delivered their full manuscripts all in the same week, which never fails to happen). Changes easily tracked in track changes. Clients can accept or reject anything I’ve pointed out.
Revisions are done in a flash and boom, the project is out to the editor, electronically of course, in record time.
In fact, one of my clients was so used to this method, she was stunned when she received her line edit from her new editor in the mail and on the paper manuscript. She even kindly requested (because time was of the essence and the deadlines were tight—by publisher decree not hers—if the editor could speed up the process by doing it electronically). But that’s a whole other story. My author ended up hiring a person, literally, to type in the handwritten comments into her document so she could revise more quickly.
And now I’m looking into a couple of other very interesting technological mediums and how they can apply to what I do at my agency and how they can benefit my clients.
And trust me folks, I’m no tech whiz but I’m willing to keep learning because in my mind, technology is meant to be used and my agency will be the better for it because of that mindset.