Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Office Cleaning

I have a fabulous new intern and I have prepared for her six month training period. But, to my utter surprise, a second intern approached me.

Now when I was a baby agent, the woman who trained me told me that agents are born, not made. You either have it, or you don't. But I am an optimist, so I didn't believe her. Now that I've mentored more than a dozen people (4 of whom have stayed on this side of the business) I can tell you she was right.

And I knew right away that Jenny Rappaport was a born agent.

So, when someone approaches me about learning the trade, I always want to give them the opportunity, because you can't make an agent out of a sow's ear. S/he really has to want to be one.

But taking on two interns at once (we have promoted our last intern) meant that I had to get a bit more organized and make sure that there was very distinct work for each to do.

So I cleaned my office this past weekend.

Thankfully, the business has grown considerably less paper-intensive over the past five years, but I still have a completely-book lined office and a storage space full of books downstairs. I thought things were in pretty good order, but after diving into the piles of manuscripts and papers, all I can say is I only did half of it in five hours of intensive labor in which four huge garbage bags of paper were thrown out, six feet of boxed manuscripts (copies of books already sold - and already some published), as well as two towers of book catalogs going as far back as the year 2000 were recycled!

Needless to say, I was not able to do any reading this weekend.

So now I have 5 manuscripts and partials that should have been read already, and I promised myself I would watch the Sci-fi network's TINMAN (which although waaaay too long, did have some charm) because I am selling a brilliant Oz fantasy and wanted to reference it in the query letter. Plus I got screening passes to THE GOLDEN COMPASS (truly excellent - see this one) and I really wanted to see THE MIST (possibly my favorite King novella - question, am I imagining it or was there once a p.c. game based on this (not The Myst) and if so, does anyone have any idea where I might get it?) before it leaves theaters. I try to see and read a lot of the "popular" fantasy and horror stuff that's out there so I can keep up with what's selling, otherwise my references would be dated and I would be irrelevant.

But I'm swamped again. And the holidays are fast approaching, which is always an extra layer of work (joyful, but work none the less).

I share all this with you because I had a prospective client who just couldn't understand how I could have told him that I would get to his partial by Thanksgiving. And then when he asked about it after the holiday, I said it would now be during the Christmas break. He told me this was unacceptable. I told him to go elsewhere, but it never ceases to amaze me how some writers feel entitled to an agent's free feedback on their book by a certain time no mater what time of the year it is.

But it is Hanukkah - a truly wonderful holiday, full of hope and mystery. I love the Hanukkah story. Though not Jewish, I always had a lot of Jewish friends, and this is one holiday I am always thrilled to be invited to share. So, let's eat great food and celebrate this terrific time of the year and be so thankful for each other's friendship and inspiration!


Anonymous said...

Your last intern was promoted within the agency? Does that mean he is an agent-in-training or will be building his own client list?

ryan field said...

Nice Post today.

Anonymous said...

There WAS a game called "Myst", but it was a terrific puzzle game not based on the King story at all.

Anonymous said...

Holy piles of paper, Batman! That sounds like a LOT of work.

I was excited for TINMAN, because I too like Oz stuff ("Wicked" the musical is playing on my iPod as I type this). ... But then I realized I don't get the SciFi Channel. I am all over woe.

-Emily, intern

Michael said...

Well, at least with that partial out of the way, you'll have more time for reading over the holidays. Such as my partial, should you decide to request it. (Just kidding. Sort of.)

The Mist has always been one of my favorite King stories, but I'm not familiar with any game based on it.

Tyhitia Green said...

The prospective client should have been elated that you were reading his manuscript at all.

I am rewriting my novel and the holidays are affecting how fast I'll get it done because we all want to shop. Most of us have family coming home. We are busy with our lives. The last thing I want to think about during Christmas is my job.

While I'm off during the break, I'll be shopping AND writing. Well, I have been writing every day anyway, regardless of all the aforementioned things. PC should have been grateful that you even liked his concept in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Re: the potential client -- his displeasure may stem from the fact that HE had to contact you about it instead of you taking the bull by the horns and letting him know what was going on from the get-go.

From your perspective of course you are correct, you're not superwoman. But promises to writers are tossed aside by every minute schedualing change. A holiday, a book expo, a conference, a hangnail. There's always some excuse. Yet writers manage all the time to work under deadlines with success. Agents want huge amounts of respect but don't offer it in return -- sometimes all that's needed is for an agent to say, Hey, I haven't forgotten about you.

If a client kept YOU waiting for months on a requested full and then gave you, "it's a holiday" excuse you'd surely drop them as not worth the trouble. Funny, that when agents do it, the world should understand.

Gosh, that sounds so bitchy, and I really didn't mean for it to. I enjoy your blog. But there's such a double standard in this business, it's a shame really.

Ravenous Romance said...

I think I've found the old Stephen King Mist game as a free down load, so I'll keep you posted. I won't even play it until the Xmas break. Just too much to do.

Regarding our former intern, yes, Spencer Ellsworth is now an "assodicate agent," which means he is taking on very few clients, which Jenny and I are over-seeing.

And rgarding the proposectve client, let me make it clear that reading a ms. is by a possible cleint is FREE work. Until you are paying me to read your work on deadline, you have no right to expect me to drop my life and get to your work. I couldn't care less when my authors get me stuff they are working on - but if they miss deadlines they have signed a contract for, they better be prepared to explain it to their editors.

Publishing is a very slow business. Get used to it.

Michael said...

"Publishing is a very slow business. Get used to it."

Writers should be used to it, writing is a very slow business itself. Every time I start to get impatient waiting on responses for a query, I remind myself how long getting my novel down on paper took. And do I really want hurried responses to queries and partials? No, I'd rather considered ones. If that takes time, so be it.

Of course, I'm still learning to live with that kind of patience, but at least I know I should.

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