Saturday, July 17, 2010

Agents and Conferences

As an aspiring author, I am constantly researching agents and the publishing industry. I check an agent's credentials and the genres they represent before I query. Then when I get a request I also check out the "buzz" on that agent and their response times. One thing I learned very quickly is that there are a ton of impatient people out there. It seems that many believe that an agent who doesn't reply to their query within a week is somehow doing something wrong. I once saw a post somewhere where the person was thinking of disregarding an agent because it had been 2 whole days!

I see people complaining if an agent tweets or blogs too much...or not enough. But one pattern of complaints has me baffled because it's illogical and silly.

I've seen a lot of aspiring authors complaining about an agent attending conferences.

What is their logic in this? From what I've seen most of the reasons are:

1.) "The agents are yet again too busy to read their query." Reading queries is not an agent's primary job. Selling books and protecting their clients' rights is. Why do people keep forgetting this?

2.) "They are worried that the authors attending the conference will get preference over the slush pile. " I can understand this one a little. The nearest conferences that happen in my area are 400 miles or more away. Still, one must understand that good writing is what the agent cares about, not the fun time they had with you sipping cocktails.

3.) "Agents who attend conferences all the time are somehow 'shady.'" I don't remember where I read this, but I found that post to be excessively silly. Many of the best agents in the business attend conferences regularly.

So far, I've never heard any complaints on conference attendance from agented and published authors. Why? I assume because they believe that conferences are a good thing. I'm sure there are many reasons, but I think one is sufficient.

Editors also attend conferences. Imagine this scenario: Your agent is at a conference. She is sitting at a table with the editor of your dream publishing house. Dream editor says, "I'm looking for...." and proceeds to describe your book.
Your agent smiles and says, "As a matter of fact, I have...." and she launches into an enthusiastic description of your work.
The editor grins and says, "Would you mind sending that along?"
Your agent hides her triumphant grin behind her wine glass and replies, "I'll send it on Monday."


  1. Great post. Hard to believe this stuff is being said!! I'm very thankful agents are out there marketing and networking!

    By the way, love the new background. Very cool ;o)

  2. Great points! I've seen a lot of these complaints as well, and I want to roll my eyes. Do some writers not realize, besides tending to their own clients, the agent they are submitting to has often several hundred queries like theirs in their inbox daily?

    I admit to being antsy after I send a query, but I understand patience is all part of the game.