Tuesday, July 03, 2012

How not to Impress an Agent- True Story

This happened some months ago (okay, years) and the humilation has worn off, so know I feel I can share this with you.

I t this a  Serious blog? Helpful? Dare I say insightful? No, not really. I thought I’d share with you the side of me that usually only those closest to me, or those I’m trying to impress get to see. Lucky you!

Many moons ago I attended the PNWA conference in Seattle. Determined to snag myself an agent and editor, I was full of confidence, charm and great clothes (thanks to a very fashionable friend). I knew that agents would be floating about the hotel and I poured over their pictures, memorizing their faces, favourite things and adjusting my pitch for each of them. The first one I ran in to, was a younger guy. Literally. I managed an “oops, sorry!” And continued on down the hallway, before I realized it was one of the agents I wanted to impress. In a last ditch effort, I yelled at him from thirty feet away. “Hey Joe!” He looks. I wave. “I’ll see you later!” I’m sure he thought I was making a move on him, but I didn’t care, just wanted to stand out of the crowd.

On a scale of 1-10, maybe a 7 on being memorable.

The next agent I was in the elevator with, again, oblivious that this is one of the agents I wanted for myself, one of the top agents from New York. So after I casually mention how short she is in an attempt to garner a laugh, I then go on to point out that she’s as short as my great grandmother, someone we as children affectionately called Yoda for her wrinkles, slight greenish tinge, height and British accent. This agent had all of those, except the accent wasn’t British but Kiwi. As in New Zealand. It wasn’t till I sat at my table that I had a flash of insight and recognized that the picture of this agent I’d been studying was from about 40 years ago when she wasn’t a salt and pepper haired old lady with glasses. Ah crap.

I think that may have scored me an 8, as the agent glared at me while I pitched her. I’m pretty sure it’ll be a long time before she forgets me.

The final encounter I’ll regale you with is where I broke down and offered to bribe an agent if she would just give me her card. She laughed. I didn’t. When I finally pitched to her, there was only the briefest of awkward silences where she sighed and said, “Send me your submission and put in the heading, Money Girl.” Done and done.

That one got me a 10 as I found out later she had been telling people about the gooney Money girl!

The only person I didn’t make a complete ass of myself in front of was the agent who signed me from the conference. In fact, I didn’t think she was even interested in my genre so I quit trying so hard and just had fun. She loved the ms and me. So the moral of the story is, desperation doesn’t work. Try to be memorable when pitching to agents and editors, but don’t  insult or injure them.
And use bribery only as a last resort.

*Side note, since then I've dropped my agent and continued on my publishing journey on my own, but for those of you hunting for an agent, I hope this blog gives you some do's and don'ts.


lovindanger said...

Great post. So funny...so real. Thanks for sharing. I'm in my first time pre-bitching...I mean pitching wind up blues. To laugh with you helped.

Cathie Dunn said...

Very funny post. Bet it didn't seem so funny when you got home after the event.

Thanks for sharing.

Keith Robinson said...

LOL! That's great. See, by sharing your humiliation you've gone and made yourself more personable and honest, which is very cool.

I'm following you on Twitter now (found you via Kathy Hall's retweet). I was also a huge Piers Anthony fan back in the day, and in recent years he's read/liked my own books, which is a neat turnaround.

You have excellent book covers. Your own work?

jamigray.com said...

Great post! Those agent/editor apts can be brutal, but years after they can be downright amusing!

Carmen DeSousa said...

ROTFLMBO! I am so using these when I go to a conference.

I would have signed you just because you made me laugh. :)

Denise Young said...

LOL, Shannon. Thanks for sharing your story so candidly. I went to my first writers conference in May. My take on the writer-editor or writer-agent relationship is that we're all people who love books. We work in the same industry and want to share stories with the world. So I tried not to get too tripped up. But honestly, I was still nervous when I pitched. I've found talking to people about traveling and pets to be great icebreakers.

I did manage to mix up the time for my last pitch session and accidentally took another writer's slot. I felt soooo bad. Fortunately, she was just the sweetest person and laughed it off. Live and learn, I suppose. Next time, I'll be sure to wear a watch. :)

shannonhowell said...

That's funny! Very nice post. Thank you for sharing. It sounds like something I would do. Maybe it goes with the name?

Shannon said...

Thanks Everyone!Yes, it was a funny, good time, I'm glad for the experience ;p

So, who wants an online pitching session?? LOL!

Shannon said...

Oh and Keith, the covers are not my own work. :-) I used Ryan Bibby with Novel Branding for the Zombie-ish series and Patricia Schmitt for my Dark Waters series. Both fabulous in their own right, both I would highly recommend!

Shelley Munro said...

Oh, dear! I chuckled through your post. Thanks for sharing :)

Shari Green said...

LOL, oh dear. Definitely memorable! But very good advice about relaxing and dropping the desperation. :)