Over the course of the past year of blogging, I’ve confessed many things about myself and about the strange and rare species literarius agentus (habitat: offices. food: bagels, free lunches. known predators: aspiring writers, bill collectors.)
But there are actually quite a few things about this job that I don’t blog about, and thus one might get the impression that what I do all day is 1) read queries, 2) watch bad tv, and 3) blog about both as much as possible.
This is not the case! I watch some good TV too.
But really, there is a whole lot of my day, in fact most of my day, that I don’t blog about, don’t really talk about or even reference all that much. Some of it is confidential, some of it is mind-numbingly boring, and some of it is a result of the fact that I’m a paranoid person and would never say anything on the blog that could possibly jeopardize myself, my clients, or our nation’s national security.
So in order to get more of a sense of what being a literary agent is like, I thought it might be helpful for me to talk about the things that I don’t talk about.
Here are some:
– Interacting with clients. I don’t want my clients (or prospective clients) to feel like they are blog lab rats or feel like they have to be circumspect for fear of landing on the blog. So I never talk about them except when I’m promoting their books or when they’re guest blogging. I don’t talk about it anonymously or vaguely or tangentially. I just don’t talk about it. There’s nothing bad here, interacting with clients is one of the most fun things I do and I love them all, but I don’t blab about it.
– My deals. I may break this rule from time to time, but for the most part I don’t really talk about deals I’ve completed. I wouldn’t want to jeopardize any part of a deal by discussing it publicly, even after the fact, and there are other blogging agents who are more forthcoming about these things so I’ll let them give the insight into how deals get done.
– Contracts. This one goes without saying. It’s proprietary, fool! But working on contracts takes up a whole lot of my time.
– Interacting with editors. Editors are wonderful and amazing people and there is not a bad apple in the bunch. Seriously. You will never find me saying otherwise.
– Nicole Ritchie. She knows what she did.
– Really bad queries. I really wish I could share these with you. But I can’t. It would be too mean (and possibly illegal).
– My thoughts on books I’ve read and authors who are not my clients. I love every book I have read ever since I’ve become an agent. They’re all amazing. Even the ones that weren’t.
– How depressed I am about the sorry state of the Sacramento Kings. If I were to impart even 1% of the sorrow I feel about the Kings you would probably drown in a pool of your own tears. I try and avoid that.
– Follow ups. I spend a whole lot of my day making sure things get done. I have an elaborate system that reminds me of when I need to follow up with someone about a contract, a check, a needed piece of information, an article, a response on a submission, a royalty statement, a reversion request… you name it. I’d say at least half of my day is spent checking to make sure things are getting done. This is a lot of what agents do — keeping track of things so you don’t have to. But I don’t really talk about it. Because it’s not very interesting, really.
– Um. Other stuff.
Ultimately, when I started blogging, I chose to focus on how to how aspiring authors can find an agent, how best to write a query, how to navigate the process… this is all stuff I can talk about freely and openly. There’s nothing secret or proprietary about the query process. But the rest of my job is mostly a closed book for the purposes of the blog.
So if you have any questions about things I do during the day that I don’t normally talk about, ask away! I may not be able to answer it honestly, but I promise to give you a really vague, noncommittal response.