Friday, October 19, 2007

Random Movie Musings

I admit it - I am a cinemaphile. I can sit through a six hour double feature without moving. I geek out when classic B movies are run again on HBO (Thirteenth Warrior, anyone?). I giggle like a school girl when the season film preview edition of Entertainment Weekly comes out. Free movie passes are like gold to me. I love the smell of buttered popcorn and the sound your shoes make as you walk on the sticky floor of a theatre.

Yet I sadly must admit that since opening the agency at the beginning of the year I've gone to the theatre less and less. This is certainly not for a lack of proximity - there are three theatres within a twenty minute walk of my home. I'm simply too tired most of the time, and the recent releases just haven't gotten me excited enough to overcome the calling of my couch. It doesn't help that the wife and I don't share the same tastes in movies (mine=good movies; hers=weird foreign movies).

But in the past two weeks I've managed to see two fantastic films, The Assassination of Jesse James and Michael Clayton, and this weekend we have plans to see another, Gone, Baby, Gone. I've actually been anxiously awaiting the movie for years, since I first read the book of the same title, by the great Dennis Lehane. For me, this and the three previous titles in the Kenzie series are the pinnacle of mystery/suspense writing (If you're an aspiring writer in this genre, it's required reading).

I was a bit nervous when I heard that Ben Affleck was attached, but when he wisely decided to make his brother Casey the star I breathed a sigh of relief. I've only seen good reviews so far, and I hope that this time Monday I can post one as well.

Attack of the Killer Assistants

I received a great comment in my previous post about treating the assistants of the publishing world with respect, and I felt it was worthy of putting the comment front and center. Just like everyone else in the business, I was once an assistant myself and so I speak from experience.

Good assistants are the life force of publishing. They are uniformly underpaid and could easily make twice as much in another industry, but they stick it out because they love books.

They read your queries, partials, and manuscripts. They pass on your phone messages. They file your royalty statement and mail you your check. They remind their boss to call you back. They show up for your readings. They are the unseen wheels turning the machine. And one day, through a combination of hard work, aptitude, and luck, many will become editors, agents, publishers, and publicists and have assistants of their own.

But when you're underpaid and underappreciated, you tend to feel like a martyr. And let me tell you, martyrs have long memories. They remember the smallest slight for months, and certainly will recall the time you yelled at them for the rest of their lives. They bide their time, waiting patiently until they are in a position to serve their revenge, a dish cold but delectable.

I have never yelled at an assistant. I suggest that you don't either.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Client Responsibilities

I received an interesting question from a potential client yesterday. After asking some great questions about what she can expect from me as her agent, the writer then asked what her responsibilities were in our relationship. I thought this was a responsible and smart question, and one that gets overlooked.

The most important thing for me and I think most agents is that my client acts professionally. This means working hard and meeting deadlines. It also means being open to editorial guidance, though of course there will be times you disagree and will need to stick to your guns. It also means treating people with respect, and I'm not just talking about your agent. I also mean editors, publicists, book sellers, reviewers, and even readers.

Professionalism also means that you need to keep reasonable expectations. Publishing can move at a glacial pace, and there are also some archaic customs that should have been tossed aside years ago. Changes are being made, but it's a slow process and patience is absolutely required.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How fast is superfast?

As those of you who have queried me might have discovered, I have been trying to respond to queries sent via my website's submission form as they come in. I've gotten a few angry responses with suggestions that I didn't actually read the query - which of course is not true. I promise, I have no automatic rejection set up. In fact, in the past two weeks I've made offers of representation to two writers who submitted to me via the submission page form. However, I've also gotten some nice (and funny) responses from people who appreciate hearing back so quickly. Here's one...



About TITLE OF BOOK....

That rejection letter was lightning fast! Thank you!

AUTHOR NAME

The sender strenuously insists that there is no sarcastic intent in the above email. In fact, the sender looks forward to getting any response, whether it’s good or bad. An “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” twenty minutes later is a thousand times better than an eternally empty Inbox. The sender is genuinely impressed with your promptness, for it far surpasses any other rejections to date. Have a nice day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Lyons Confusion

Got a query today that was jointly addressed to Jennifer Lyons and me. To avoid any confusion, Lyons Literary LLC and Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency, LLC are two distinct agencies with absolutely no connection to each other. And no, we're not related!

If you want to submit to Jennifer's agency, check out her Publisher's Marketplace page for more information. If you want to submit to Lyons Literary LLC, please go to my agency website submission page.