Thursday, September 08, 2005

Who's Zooming Who?

Miss Snark posted yesterday about the work relationship between agents and writers. To sum up, she said:

Let's be clear here.

Miss Snark works WITH you. She's a member of your team, but in no way shape
or form does she work FOR you.

A commenter then had the temerity to take her to task for being "pompuous".

Your agent is not "your" agent. She is your partner. You don't pay her. She makes money for you and keeps a fair share of it in return for her work, knowledge, and expertise. Neither writer nor agent works for the other. You work together. The writer creates a product, which the agent then helps bring to market. Saying that your agent works for you is arrogance of the most egregious kind, and that bodes ill for a relationship that depends heavily on the two of you getting along.

A running theme on Miss Snark's blog is that of communication. Of all the people in the world, you would expect writers to know about communicating. Unfortunately, too many of us appear to be deficient in those skills.

The most important part of your relationship with an agent is a mutual understanding of who, what, when, where, how, and why. Some things the agent will explain to you. Others are up to you to determine. How? Ask. Just like all other humans, agents cannot think of every detail regarding what you want. Neither can they read your mind. If you want to see all rejections on your manuscript as they come in, you had better ask up front. The same goes for any other concerns you may have about the particular way you want your agent to deal with you. This is particularly important for deal-breaker issues that you may have. The things you consider most important may be a source of contention between the two of you later on. You should avoid this.

Up front, by the way, means BEFORE you sign anything. It is normal and expected behavior for you to interview your agent before signing a contract. Your agent also wants to interview you. You can expect to do this over the course of one or more phone calls before the contract hits your inbox or mailbox. You will be working together very closely over the short term and, we all hope, the long term, too. Mutual understanding and respect are vital. If you don't ask, you cannot assume, and you will have to accept the agent's way of doing business or start the search again.

Plan, ask, discuss. Your agent will be one of the most important people in your life, and your career as a writer will very likely depend in large part on your relationship with your first agent. Think things through; think about all the details of how you want to be kept informed of your agent's efforts on your behalf. Write down all your concerns. Then, ask the questions. Again, do this before putting pen to paper.

Contracts are serious documents, and it does not take long for you to develop a reputation as an unreliable contract-breaker. This is, of course, not good. Especially for a first-timer. When you put your name on the line, you are committed for good or ill. It's up to you to make sure it's for good.

It's all about communication, respect, and cooperation. The more of each your relationahip has, the better for all concerned. Life is hard enough as it is. Don't make it worse.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

How Libraries Made Out

The American Library Association has a page of Katrina News detailing how AL, MS, and LA libraries fared and what libraries elsewhere are doing to help. One of the biggest needs right now is computers. There are an awful lot of people out there looking for news of relatives. It will be a long time before the damage is known for sure, but several libraries were completely destoyed, and it looks like the NO Public Library lost its entire Archives section to flooding.

If there are evacuees in your area, please do whatever you can to provide them with reading material, games, puzzles, etc. Also, check with your local public library. If they are not already providing service to evacuees, encourage them to do so.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I'm B-a-a-a-a-ck!

Long, hard weekend. Glad it's over. Wish I had another one to recover.

About 1000 New Orleans evacuees moved into the Rock Eagle 4-h camp in eatonton over the weekend. There are more coming to be scattered hither and yon around the area. That put us to scrambling through the house for anything they could use. These people very literally have only the clothes on their backs. We've weeded out our closet and dressers.

And book cases. Imagine, if you will, 1000 people still in shock from a major disaster, scared, mad, sad, with relatives unaccounted for, with nothing, not even hope. Imagine them crammed into a space that normally serves about 500 children at a time. Imagine them with nothing to do. Nothing. No books, no puzzles, no TV, a couple of radios. This is where prison riots come from. There's trouble brewing unless we can find some way to occupy a lot of dead hours.

The face of disaster is horrible to look upon. For someone who is already emotionally unstable (like me), this is in itself a storm of epic proportions. On top of everything else, I have to deal with the guilt of feeling so depressed. What right have I to be depressed? These guys have got it so much worse than I do. It's the Kobayashi Maru all over again. No-win scenario. Bleh.

On the writing side of things, I have reviews to get out for Green Man Review. They keep getting pushed aside by other stuff, and that's not fair. I agreed to do this, so I have to get them done. I'm also looking at the "Sea Change" revision. Got to get that done, too. That will help get those faces out of my mind for a while.