Friday, August 13, 2010

Even a fish ...

When I put out a call for humorous, happy and upbeat blog topics on Twitter, @mistyprovencher suggested that I write about what people should say to agents in the happy instance that they call to make you an offer.

But that advice could be summed up with the old saying about even a fish would stay out of trouble if he kept his mouth shut. So I figured, hmh, maybe it would be funnier -- and more helpful -- if I wrote a list of things NOT to say to an agent with an offer of representation on the table.

The top five faves ...

5) Great! So this means you're gonna join in on my slumber parties? Will we trade pedicures and brush each other's hair?*

4) Maybe this is too much information, but my husband has just ... (fill in the blank).

3) Terrific news! Today's the 10th, so by the 17th, you should have me in an auction? And I'll pencil in Oprah for, hmh, next month?

2) That book? You wanna sell THAT BOOK? Oh, sheesh. I just deleted it off my hard-drive because I had decided it stank.

1) So, um, how much more complex will a six-figure advance make my troubles with the IRS?

As you can see (hopefully), the common theme in the list of should-nots is TMI and too high expectations. An agent is, above all, a professional. If you wouldn't tell/invite/ask your dentist, your accountant, your doctor, or some other highly-trained, highly experienced professional, don't ask your agent.

So I guess the best advice I could give when (notice I say WHEN and not IF) that happy day comes to pass would be this:

1) Say thank you.

2) Ask what her (or his) view of the book and the plan for going from here. (Revisions? Does she have an editor/house in mind?)

3) Ask what her plan B is if the book doesn't immediately sell. Ask this question with tact, so she'll understand that YOU understand worst case scenarios.

4) Ask what her preferences are on communication -- does she like frequent e-mails, or will she maintain radio silence until she has something to report?

5) Ask if she is an editing agent or not.

6) Tell her if the full is under consideration by any other agents.

7) Ask for 24 hours (AT LEAST) to consider her offer.

8) Say thank you. (Yeah, I know. But say it again anyway).

9) Hang up the phone.

Really, I add #9 in just because you're sure to forget to hang up and the agent will hear you freaking out after you think she's off the line. Now print this list, cut it out and tape it by your phone for when the happy day comes.

*This one was stolen without shame from Tawna Fenske. Yes, I'm a thievin' individual, and that makes Linda Grimes hopeful that I am soon to be corrupted.


Jayne said...

I think the thing I will have to avoid saying is 'you know I really love you?!'

Thank you for the list of what TO say - I will cut it out and keep it by my phone - got to be optimistic, right?!

Al said...

great list. Funny and good advice :-)

Linda G. said...

LOL! Oh, I do love to start the day off with a giggle! Thank YOU. :)

Jessica Lemmon said...

I love this list, and I am going to print it and put it by my phone!!! (The DO's not the DON'T's) ;)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thanks for the great list! I can only hope that day will come ... :)

p.s. hope your day is sunnier than yesterday. :)

Cynthia Reese said...

Jayne, I think you MIGHT get away with saying, "I love that you love my book!" And yes, BE optimistic, BE the call. ;-)

Al, thanks!

Linda G, you're just hoping my halo is tarnishing. Keep watching. It's God's way of keeping you out of worse mischief. ;-)

Jessica, I guess I should have said which list to cut out, huh?!

Susan, my day IS sunnier than yesterday. Thank you!

Elizabeth Ryann said...

I'm not really sure I even want an agent if s/he's not going to brush my hair. What would be the point?

Julie Musil said...

Oh, if only I needed this list! Someday...thanks for the confidence.

Anonymous said...

Ha. Love those first five.