(A side note: I was supposed to post Simon Wood’s second guest post yesterday, but the day got away from me. Sorry. It’ll go up Monday. Also, sorry this is so late. I slept until almost one o’clock this afternoon; hubs has been out of town for ten days (he got back last night) and I don’t think I slept more than five hours a night the whole time he was gone, including weekends, so I was totally exhausted). Anyway,
Today is Agent Appreciation Day, in which we writers blog and tweet about how much we love our agents, in an effort to make up for not giving them Christmas presents. (Ha, actually that isn’t true. I sent my agent a present last week, and I’m sure most of us send gifts anyway. But still.)
I talk about my agent a lot here, I know. So I actually debated whether or not I even should post anything today. But then I decided, why not. It’s fun to talk about him, and it’s fun to be involved in something like this.
My agent is Chris Lotts from Ralph Vicinanza Ltd., and we’ve been together (in the working sense, of course) for almost two years, which is kind of weird to think about. I queried Chris with UNHOLY GHOSTS on a Monday, and signed with him two days later on Wednesday, which still amazes me. To be honest, I queried him thinking I didn’t have a chance in hell of even getting a partial request, considering how highly regarded he and the agency are; the idea that he would want to work with me and my creepy little “junkies and ghosts” book seemed like a total impossibility.
But I sent the query anyway, because as I said a while ago, “either you think the book is publishable or you don’t.” I did, and I sent the query, and I have never stopped being thankful that I did. In the almost-two-years we’ve been working together he’s sold UNHOLY GHOSTS to Del Rey (US), HarperVoyager (UK), Egmont Lyx (Germany), Amber Publishing (Poland), and Blackstone Audio (audio rights US). He also handled the contracts for DEMON INSIDE and sold the third Demons book, DEMON POSSESSED, to Juno/Pocket. I think it’s safe to say he’s an awesome and very effective agent.
So, to celebrate this most important of Important Literary Holidays, here are the top five things I love about my agent, Chris Lotts:
1. He’s always there. He always takes my phone calls, on the rare occasions I do call (I prefer email). Not only does he take the calls, he’s actually happy to hear from me! He tells me he’s glad I called. He calls me, too. He emails me, and replies to my emails. I once had a problem pop up on a day he’d taken off work. He still saw my email and got involved.
2. He knows how to talk to me. Okay, this one sounds a little weird, so I better explain. It’s not that I need some sort of special white-gloves treatment or anything; if I did he probably wouldn’t be so happy when I call him. But he knows how to calm me down when something upsets me and I decide my career is over. He knows that when I send him a proposal or an idea for a new project, and he hates it (okay, I can hear him in my head right now saying, “I don’t hate it!”, so read that as “he doesn’t think it’s as marketable as some” or whatever) he can come right out and tell me; he doesn’t have to beat around the bush. He knows I can take a joke and that I’m annoyed by hesitation and wishy-washiness. And when I ask questions, even questions that feel to me like they’re probably kind of stupid questions, he answers them and tells me they’re not stupid questions.
3. He’s willing to step in and handle stuff I don’t wanna handle. He stays on top of things like payments I’m supposed to get. He offers me advice, thoughts and opinions. It’s all very professional and makes me feel well taken care of. Which is nice.
4. The agenting stuff itself. Aside from all the personality things and the warm fuzzies and whatnot, he knows how to sell my work. He knows how to get me the best deal possible. He knows what editors are looking for, and when we talk and brainstorm on the phone (yep, see, there’s that talking thing again!) he has great ideas and advice. It’s very cool. It’s nice to feel that through him I’m connected to the industry, and to learn more about it.
5. In April hubs and I went to the Mai Kai in Ft. Lauderdale (this huge, awesome Polynesian restaurant where we used to go all the time when we lived there). The Mai Kai has a gift shop, and in that gift shop I saw two little Hawaiian/Polynesian dolls; you know, the tacky plastic ones with the really big eyes, where the girl is in a grass skirt and the guy in short or something, and they’re both wearing leis? Anyway. I saw these and purely on impulse bought them for him and sent them up, hoping he would get the joke. He did. Not only did he get the joke, he told me he was putting them on his desk. Seriously, how awesome is that?
Of course there are a lot more reasons. But what it boils down to is I like the man, and I like working with him, and I think he likes working with me. I have compete trust in him, and that’s hugely important.
I know discussions pop up from time to time on the internet about the role of the agent. I know there are discussions about what the relationship should be. I know there are people who feel that the agent works for the writer, and so the process of getting a agent shouldn’t be so hard and agents “shouldn’t have so much power” and blah blah blah.
To me the writer/agent relationship is more of a partnership. When looking for a partner in anything, whether it’s business or a work project or your love life or whatever, you don’t just grab somebody and say, “You’ll do,” and get down to business. You get to know them. You talk. You see how it feels, if you click. You can’t just grab any agent and “hire” them, and if you could I don’t think that would be a good thing. Because the relationship is about so much more than “Here’s my book. Go sell it,” or “Go write this book, and by the way you’re not allowed to do X, Y, or Z.” Chris and I discuss things. We plan things. I tell him how I feel about things and he tells me what his feelings are on it, and I usually take his advice not because I feel like if I don’t he won’t like me anymore but because he’s the one with the experience.
To put it bluntly, I pay him (in commissions) to sell my work, and to give me the benefit of his expertise. Why in the world would I pay him for his advice and then refuse to take it? That’s like hiring, I don’t know, a very famous, very expensive interior decorator, then handing them the paint, wallpaper, and furniture you want him to use and telling him to get to work. You know what I mean? What’s the point in getting an expert if you’re going to ignore everything they say?
This is turning into a longish rant, and I only meant it to be short. Oops. So anyway. My agent. He’s awesome, and I appreciate him.
(For a long list of other writers participating in Agent Appreciation Day, go here.