How I Got the Best Agent Ever
by Charles Dowd, http://charleswdowdy.com
(posted on Nathan Bransford's Forum as an entry to the Guest Blogger contest)
I just got off the phone with my new literary agent! I am beyond excited and I want to share this story with other writers!
This woman has blasted my head into the clouds. She said my writing was unique and visionary. She said it was full of wit, and delivered in a somewhat manic style.
Perhaps that’s where the conversation took a turn that left me a little pensive. She asked some of those personal questions that all writers dread. How are you supposed to answer them? Too much information and you might bore her to death. Too little and you might seem like you’re trying to hide something.
So I ‘fessed up. I can be a little manic sometimes. The doctors call it maniacal or clinical something or the other. Whatever.
Then she asked if I had any personal problems she needed to know about. Me? I’m boring 101. You know, there was that little dustup with the IRS, but who hasn’t had problems with them? In fact, outstanding IRS liens tend to make someone more normal in my eyes. Or normaler.
Whatever. Then there was that stalking conviction, but I later got married to my stalkee, and if that doesn’t say a lot about my resolve then I don’t know what does. So, outside of that kind of thing, I’m just a regular Joe Regular. You know, a Joe Regular who likes to spend most of his time alone so he can make up stories in his head, and occasionally has loud conversations with the characters in his books, often when his mind is in neutral, like when he’s on the subway, or driving a church bus full of children or senior citizens.
And then I suddenly thought, how did this conversation with my dream literary agent end up in the third person? Or maybe I said that aloud? Whatever. But I was pretty sure I’d read something about keeping all phone conversations with prospective literary agents out of the third person.
So, then our non third person conversation turned toward her agency agreement and such. This was more comfortable conversational ground for me, except I was forced to admit that, as a temporary resident of the state of Illinois, I would not be able to enter into any kind of binding legal contract whatsoever for the next four to six years. But I had already put my bean to this issue before beginning the querying process, and had some options ready for her. I told her about my cousin, who’s into car detailing down in Miami. He’d already agreed to play me on book tours and do any television interviews. We don’t look very much alike, given that he’s from Africa and my side of the family hails from Norway, but surely some kind of plan could be hatched with the marketing folks when it came to the book jacket. You know, a picture with some serious facial hair, or lots of shadows, or something artsy like that.
As far as any book proceeds, or advances, or whatever, I think I earned BIG points when I told her she could just keep that money for the next four to six years. Talk about showing trust from day one. I told her I’d just come pick it up when we could arrange a mutually beneficial time, preferably late at night, and that I would rather it be delivered in small, non-sequential bills.
Whatever! I’m easy to work with. And that was one point I really hammered home. I am EASY. I accept editorial direction with the best of them. I’ve got like twenty three hours a day to write. So I have been producing reams and reams of material. And I can deliver it all electronically, you know, unless the warden is being a horse’s ass because some degenerate lifer started a riot in the shower. Turned out the poor, hopeless bastard had gotten smitten with some white collar mullet, and the rest of us were all screaming, “Stop wiggling, let it happen, let it happen,” but this tease of an accountant had to play hard to get and somehow things quickly escalated from a steamy shower room to bloody shanks, water cannons and tear gas.
While this wasn’t the kind of dazzling personal news I wanted to share with my new agent, she had to admit that you can’t buy that kind of writing material. How true that was, and I seized this time to inform her that after any sizable prison riot, getting material to write on is next to impossible, and would she mind accepting manuscripts handwritten in my own blood on the back of 64 oz soup can labels?
And I’m sure I’m reading WAY too much into this, but this was where she went kind of silent on me. You know, I’m sure she was just weighing it all before making that last second commitment to my literary superstardom. Probably just imagining which magic button she’d push that’ll rocket my name up there with the Browns, and Rowlings and Palins.
At least, that’s what I think was happening.
I don’t know, because at that unfortunate moment our call was cut off. It appeared I was out of time and change. Maybe I could have bummed another dollar and gotten the guys in line behind me to wait, but that shower room Lothario with the monstrous loofha was the next man up, and that was not the kind of grief I needed right then. Besides, I’m sure my new literary agent accepted my silence as acquiescence and vice versa. Great minds think alike and all that. She’s the best, right? I’ll probably be able to call her back next week and find out we already have an offer. Multiple offers. From the biggest houses. In fact, I’m sure we will. After all, she’s the best literary agent out there and we are now ONE.
Gosh, by next week, I guess the only question will be whether our relationship will have reached the point where I can call her collect.
Whatever. I’m easy.