Monday, March 28, 2011

These four things you shall not do . . . At an agent panel . . . In my opinion.

Dear people-who-will-probably-never-see-this-blog-because-if-you-read-blogs-and/or-are-skilled-in-google-fu-you're-already-aware-of-these-things:

But just in case. . .

Here's a list of four things you might not want to do at an agent panel:

1. Not pay attention and ask a question that's already been answered IN DEPTH. And then proceed to ask a series of follow up questions making agents repeat their IN DEPTH answers.

Because: Duh.

2. Ask a question that's actually a thinly veiled pitch for your book. For example:

Writer: Um, okay, so like, my dad was a famous dragon slayer in the 80s and 90s--and I'm writing a non-fiction novel about how he didn't want to marry any of the princesses he saved. Can you even believe it?!? I'm also writing a nonfiction tell-all about my time as an extra on the set of The Simpsons and I totally made out with Bart...So I guess my question is... what's the best way to let you know about what I'm writing?

Yeah. No. I mean, I can't speak as an agent (why? because I'm not one, obvi) but as a fellow writer in the same panel, I now pretty much hate your guts.

Okay. Dislike you.

Okay. Am annoyed.

Because: Unless the panel is titled "Everybody Pitch Now" (clearly to the tune of C+C Music Factory's Everybody Dance Now) panels aren't the place to pitch an agent. Plenty of conferences have agent pitch sessions that you can sign up for. And sometimes agents linger after their panels, for you to speak with them privately then. I don't know if those times are times you should pitch or not, but they're better than in a room full of people who want answers to real questions that will help more than just one person.

3. Ask an agent if you can send them your query even though they've just said they don't rep what you write. For example:

Agent: I absolutely 100% do not represent fiction. 

Writer: So. . . I know you don't represent fiction, but I have this amazing YA paranormal. Can I query you anyway?

Agent: . . . *crickets*

Because: Here's the thing: a LOT of times agents will make exceptions for conference goers. As in, they'll open up to queries if they're currently closed. But I've never heard of one opening up to queries for things that they absolutely do not represent. And, think about it. Why would you want them to? Don't you want an agent who loves what you write? Who has contacts at publishing houses based on previous sales with your genre? Also, other writers will probably maybe probably laugh at you for asking a question like that. (I mean, not me, of course. Because I would never laugh at you.) 

4. Disagree with an agent's answer in a condescending way. Por ejemplo:

Agent: Right now, most publishers pay authors 25% royalties for e-book sales.

Writer: No. You're wrong, you idiot. My friend told me blah blah blah...

Because: Welp, it's just plain rude. Didn't you ever learn your manners ? No? Well then. You should know that the agent's right and you're misinformed and you look like a big beyotch. (I will say: this is different from asking follow up questions. I think those are fine because sometimes things aren't easily explained/understood on the first go-round. Or maybe that's just because I'm blonde.) 

Love always,

PS All examples are exaggerations of things I've seen recently. Except the part where the agent says e-book sales are at a 25% royalty rate right now. That's something I heard from an agent at VA Festival of the Book this year. 

QOTD: What's your favorite word today?

Mine's beyotch.


  1. Beyotch...a fine, fine word.
    Right now, mine is Advil. :)

    You have annoyed the monkey! Great picture.

  2. First, YES. Also? My favorite word today (and every day) starts with an M. Can you guess what it is? ;)

    "Everybody Dance Now" -- LOVE IT. And now it's going to be in my head all day! #ahh

  3. There's at least one a-hole in every panel. You know I'm a lover and a generally happy, positive person. But, srsly, I want to HURT people when they behave like a-holes.

    Hmmm, favorite word today? Douchenozzle.

    Love you,

  4. Oh yes. Fistbumps to this post. There's always at least one in every panel.

  5. Ahahaha, this is great! There's always someone who'll do these things though, ugh!

    Right now I like the word perfunctory. I recently read a book where the author used it quite often and it made me laugh. I think it's a funny sounding word!

  6. Great post! "The monkey is annoyed." My favorite line of the day.


  7. HAHA! Google-fu : )

  8. This is great! Hilarious as well as informative. Sure, most of this is common sense, but you've made a great read out of it anyway!

  9. Lol! This was incredible--and so absolutely right! :)

  10. Ha! Yes, I think all newbies should pay attention to this post. Even if it seems like it should be common knowledge. This is very very good.

  11. Oh, this is funny! And to that person trying to sneak in a pitch, I would definitely be thinking BEOYTCH!

  12. Ha! "everybody pitch now" *snort* That is HORRIBLY bad, btw. I can't believe people have that smushy of a brain to think it's okay to do...ANY of that!

  13. Hilarious! It's amazing how little common sense some people have.

  14. That was hysterical!! Yes, there's always one or two people that are convinced they know better than everyone else and will subsequently demonstrate said brilliance to agents/editors. When they really end up demonstrating their lack of understanding of the business. ;D Plus I really liked your monkey pic!

  15. THIS made my day. Some people are just idiots.

    My favorite word today also starts with M - and I've been thinking waaaaay too much about it lately. Yikes.

  16. Hahahaha! So awesome. Agents across the country are thanking you for this post.

  17. Ugh, people who pitch at panels would drive me crazy! Some people just don't get it.

  18. there are ALWAYS these people at conferences. Next one I go to, can I borrow the monkey?

  19. Agent panels are so fun to attend, especially for this reason.

    The 25% royalty issue came up a number of times at my last con. Most agents were clearly against it. But it was a little awkward since the conference was heavily attended by publishers. All of us writers were like O_O.

  20. lol! Nice way of stating what not to do! I definitely agree!

  21. OMG, so hilarious! Thanks for the good laugh. I'm the opposite...I'm the person who's terrified to raise their hand and ask a question. It's high school all over again.

  22. I think C&C Music Factory should now be played at the beginning of every pitch session at conferences nationwide. It will definitely be in my head as I do my pre-pitch pep talk in the ladies room mirror at my next conf :) Also, I HATE when people ask questions that have already been addressed. I am the person turning around rolling my eyes at the clueless asker.
    Great post, definitely sharing.
    Fave Word Phrase= Because: Duh.

  23. My pet peeve is when agents open to questions, and the only questions are "What should I write so that I can be successfully published?"

    And then the chat goes something like this:

    Q: So what is selling right now?

    A: Well, vampires are selling right now, but you have to remember that in two years, they probably won't be. Anything you see now is two years old. Just write the best book you can and don't worry about anything else.

    Q: Right. Uh-huh. So vampires are hot. Are you tired of vampires?

    A: I see a lot of vampires, but if it's done well, it's OK.

    Q: What about werewolves. Werewolves are new, right?

    A: I see a lot of werewolves, too, but really, if the book is good, it doesn't matter...

    Q: Faeries. I heard faeries are going to be the next big thing.

    A: I swear, if the book is good, you're probably--

    Q: How do you feel about mixing genres? Say... dystopian faeries?

    A: If it's done well, sure.

    Q: I'm thinking about writing a story that is like Twilight but better, but I want to make sure there's a market for such a thing before I invest a lot of time in it.

    A: Again, if a book is good, there's usually a market for it.

    And on and on. I signed up or an online workshop with an agent once, and I swear, there were thirty pages of Q&A, and most of the As were the same--don't worry about that, write a good book. The questions weren't all the same, but they'd might as well have been. It pains me that so many people are concerned about everything BUT the quality of their work. The work should come first. Always.

  24. great post . . . and I love the monkey picture!

  25. Ha, these are too funny. I don't know know, from what I've seen at conferences, you may not be exaggerating too much.

    And I know I'm late on the word of the day, but my favorite tag word is actually "biznatch" so I think we are on the same page. LOL.

  26. LOL great advice. I intern at a lit agency and it is so aggravating to receive manuscripts for genres we don't represent!!! These people....

  27. As they sayn "there's one in every crowd". Whether it is a publishing conference on people sending unsolicited resumes, it's all such a waste of time. Sadly, these dolts don't realize that the are mostly just wasting their own time, when they could be cultivating quality contacts elsewhere. Funny post, thanks for the laugh! - G

  28. LMAO, I am so glad I am not a writer or an agent you all have it so hard.

  29. I'm surprised by what some writers say at panels. I also cringe at conferences when a panel has ended and during break time people make a beeline towards the agents. I've overheard some of these gaffes at that time.

  30. Really enjoyed reading this post. It was the highlight of my day. Thanks.

  31. Wow- it's like opening up any room to questions just brings out the dumb in people.


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