Sunday, December 13, 2009

agent appreciation day...

...well, it was on Friday. I kinda missed it. I've been moving house. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

New house is good. Stuff -- and who knew we had so much of it? We move regularly and I'm always amazed by how much bloody STUFF we've got -- stuff is put away, mostly. Pets are relocated. Cat none too happy about having to spend the next few days inside so he won't walk 'home'. I am relaxing, sipping a cold drink, surveying my domain.

And now, I can regale you with the wonderful-ness of my agent, Marlene Stringer of the Stringer Literary Agency.

Marlene does everything an agent's supposed to do. I mean, you'd think that would go without saying, but apparently not. M (like James Bond's M, only better) responded to my manuscript (the first one, and each subsequent) with enthusiasm that made me all starry-eyed and dopey, but also with realistic expectations that made me confident she knows what she's doing.

(Aside: see that tricky thing with the tenses there? Mixing them up in the same sentence? My manuscripts are riddled with this, in some strange effort my brain makes to be 'conversational'. M never complains. She leaves editorial stuff to the editor. Bravo.)

She sold the ms. Again, this tends to go without saying -- people assume that once you have an agent, your first sale is only a matter of time. But it ain't so. Plenty out there take longer to sell, or don't sell at all, and I credit a lot of my good fortune to M's knowledge and tenacity.

And then, she sold more, before the first lot even came out. I'm still not sure how this happened, and I don't care. But I'll give M the credit.

M always answers my questions, even when they're dumb. I send her ideas for wacky books I haven't written yet and she doesn't tell me to get on with the real stuff. She bugs my editor about stuff I'm too chicken to bug her about myself. When I do really dumb stuff with copy edits and waste loads of the publisher's time and get upset, she says, whatever, just send them the corrections and forget about it.

It's just nice to have someone on my side. I mean, the editor is on my side too, because if the books don't sell, she wears it. Same with the marketing people, and the sales people, and everyone else. But M sees the stuff that they don't see.

She sees me whining and worrying and wandering around the house muttering and banging pens on my forehead... well, maybe she doesn't actually see that last one. I try not to lay too much of my necessary creative angst on her. But no doubt she can read my exasperation in my emails -- did I mention we email? Me Australia, she Florida, phone no cheapy. Because of me, M has to spend more of her time typing. She doesn't mind.

The point (yeah, there is one) is that M is my professional makeover. Make-up for the writer. The publisher always sees me fresh and painted, even when I'm dumpy and creased and disorganised underneath. When you look like me (figuratively, of course...) this is priceless.

So far, nothing 'bad' has happened yet in my writing career.

('Bad', of course, is relative, and two hundred fifty thousand tsunami victims don't care if I get a cover I don't like or a copy editor who hates my commas or cover copy that sounds like porn. They certainly don't care about my contracts or royalties or sell-through.)

Still, nothing 'bad' has happened yet. But when it does, I'm confident Marlene will be there to help. And I can't ask more than that.

Thanks to Jen K Blom for alerting me to Agent Appreciation Day. Head over here to see who else is posting... um, posted like two days ago while I was up to my eyeballs in boxes and dust.

1 comment:

    Hey Erica, hope the move went smooth - moving's a great time to clean out the clutter. I used to clean with a vengeance (before I bought my own house) because I was invariably the one to have to carry umpteen boxes into the truck or new house. So the less the better.
    Marlene sounds like a great agent, you're lucky to have found her. I bet she does a lot of stuff you're not even aware of :-).