In light of the fact that many of us are getting ready to go to conferences, or have just been to conferences, I thought I’d spend the next couple of blog posts on conferences.
Today I’d like to talk about what you hear, what you think you hear, and applying what you hear.
I love talking to writers and I love it even more when all of my appointment slots are filled at a conference. However, this also means I do a lot of talking over the course of a day. If you’ve ever condensed a lot of talking — important talking at that — into a period of time, you’ll know how intense and tiring it can be. Exciting and exhilarating, but also draining. For me, this means I unintentionally can be abrupt, too honest, not frank enough, and say things that don’t apply to every situation.
If I have ever offended you, let me know and give me a chance to make amends. Seriously. Email my assistant at email@example.com and I’ll get back to you.
Otherwise, I’d like to talk about things I might say that don’t apply to every situation. Here’s a made-up example I hope will make my point clear (you can substitute the penguin for point-of-view or a specific genre or author platform if it helps understand the metaphor):
Lucinda Writer brings me a manuscript that includes a penguin named Rochester. For some reason, Rochester isn’t appealing and doesn’t add to the story. So I may say, “You know, I really don’t like Rochester. But try me with another story and let’s talk.”
Lucinda goes to her friend, Belinda Novelist, who also has an appointment with me, and out of kindness to her friend, says, “Whatever you do, don’t show Tamela your proposal with Winchester the Penguin because Tamela absolutely hates penguins.” This leaves Belinda wondering if she should make an appointment with Steve Laube instead (except for the rumor that he rejects everybody). Or if she should just go cry in a corner, because she really loves Winchester the Penguin.
But it could be that Winchester the Penguin is just what makes Belinda’s story sparkle. So the opinion I gave Lucinda didn’t apply to Belinda at all. If Belinda doesn’t meet with me, everyone loses.
My point? Don’t assume the advice an agent gives your friend applies to you. Talk to the agent yourself and find out.
What is the most scary part of approaching an agent?
Have you ever decided not to approach an agent because of something you heard? Did this post help you reconsider?
Have you approached an agent based on something you heard in particular?