STATUS: Gotta love the Denver weather forecasts. Yesterday a weather person mentioned that there might be a slight chance of flurries during the morning commute. Yeah, it started snowing at 5 a.m. and by the time rush hour hit, there was close to a half of foot of snow on the ground. Snowstorm didn’t end until 10 this morning. Slight flurries turned into about 7 inches worth of snow in downtown Denver—probably more near the foothills. Still, I’m cheery. I like a good snow—otherwise I wouldn’t live here!
What’s playing on the iPod right now? BRIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD by Van Morrison
When I posted my end of year stats, there were a lot of comments on that fact that I had only taken on 2 clients for all of last year. Why only 2? It’s a good question so I did a little ruminating on the subject. I’ve come up with a few thoughts to share.
1. Yes, I took on only 2 clients for the year of 2008. But take a moment to look at the end of year stats for 2007. I took on 8 clients. That was a huge spit of growth in a short period of time. I’m only one person and there’s only so much I can do in my day to service my client list. Yes, I delegate to Sara, to my contracts manager, to my subrights people, to my foreign rights representative, to my film co-agents but all of that still needs oversight. I’ve gotten a real sense of what I can manage and still be a good agent to my clients. Two makes complete sense in that context.
2. No, my client list is not “full.” I’m still reading fulls and looking at projects but I have to say that how I look at them has shifted. I’ve got a great list. I really have to love the project to take it on.
Please note here that my loving the project is not the same as the project being salable.
I can pass on a project that another agent takes on and then sells. I know for a fact that this happened several times in 2008 so obviously I passed on some worthy projects. And yet, I didn’t sigh in regret when I saw the deals posted [except for one project and I blogged about that].
I’m not the final arbitrator on a novel’s sell ability. My NO really means very little if you think about it in this context.
3. Sara and I looked at 88 manuscripts. Several were close calls for us but ultimately, when all the factors came down to it, we were only passionate about two of them to make the full commitment.
Now I know that writers often perceive agents as gatekeepers but in my situation, it’s really wasn’t a question of gate-keeping so much as time commitment. Think of it this way; it takes just as much time for me to take on, work on, and then submit a novel that sells for 5k as it does for 500k. In this light, I should only take on the novels that will sell for big money, right? Seems cost effective … and yet I, and other agents take on “small” projects all the time—projects we know aren’t necessarily going to go to auction or sell for big money but yet we love the story; we see the author’s potential. They might not get the big money out of the gate but we believe in the growth. But you gotta have the passion for the project and the author to wait for the big pay off which, by the way, may never come. Not all authors break out.
So yes, I took on only 2 authors last year but I gave those two my absolute all without (hopefully!) neglecting other clients.
And no, don’t ask me when my client list will be “full” as I don’t have an answer to that. It balances and changes on so many factors.