Thursday, March 13, 2008

To Shadow An Agent

I think every writer needs to spend a day, or a week, shadowing a literary agent. We need to have a ring-side seat, get a close look at their hectic world. Watch how they really operate, and see the piles of mail that pour into their offices daily. Listen to them moan about bad writers and applaud their efforts to land a great writer. I'd love to listen to them give advice to their major clients. I'd give my eye teeth to observe their office staff, see who decides what, and sit in on the negotiating process at a major house ... or at least be a fly on the wall. Hear what an agent thinks, watch them hard at work. I try to put myself into their shoes. I really, really do.

But sometimes, it's very frustrating.

The frustration for me in the query process is getting a rejection from an agent's "assistant." Does the literary agent, the person I send my query to, ever read the actual query? My point is, I've spent days researching agents, their book sales, likes, dislikes, their list, everything about the agent ... NOT the assistant. So if only the assistant reads the query, what good did all my effort do to research the agent? Can I really trust the assistant would know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the agent would actually say, "... although your project sounds interesting and your writing is strong, we unfortunately do not feel it is right for us at this time ..." Are those the honest-to-God words of the literary agent?

Or are those the words of an overworked assistant with piles of queries on his/her desk?

Please. Somebody tell me that even when I follow the rules, have slaved over every word in my query for weeks, send only what they ask for, that at least the agent reads the query. Not just the assistant. A good assistant to any executive is priceless. I know. Because years ago, I was an Administrative Assistant. But I also know some care more than others.

Now that being said, I did have an assistant say, Ms. _____ would be happy to read Televenge. So, obviously, Ms. ________ saw the actual query letter. And I'm thinking ... well-run office.

In the end, you have to keep the faith, know your product is worth its weight in platinum, and trust that literary agents know what they're doing. Even their assistants. But I'd still love to shadow one for a day.

Blessings to you and yours.

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