Hey Gang –
I was going to write about an entirely different topic today, but then I read a piece my friend Janet Reid wrote for her blog, and I figured it’d be better if I pointed folks over there and continued the discussion over here.
It’s a pretty likely thing that if you’re an author and you’re on social media (especially Twitter), then you are familiar with Janet. She’s active in the community as a constant dispenser of advice and inside information, first with a popular blog and then later adding Twitter to the mix.
If you’re just now getting started in the writing world, you’ve probably noticed there are now about twenty thousand agents on Twitter (in addition to publishers, editors, designers, “industry experts,” and others) and it would be easy enough to assume equal credentials across the board. It’d be easy to assume that, but it’d also be kinda wrong to do so.
Being an agent is a tough thing. To be effective at it, you need to learn the industry from people who have established track records. It helps to have support (staff and emotional) to bounce ideas and thoughts off as the industry undergoes Mutation #48. You have to be a skilled reader to understand what the market wants. You have to understand how contracts work. You have to deliver pep talks to clients. You have to have unpleasant conversations with publishers about cover designs and promotional plans. It’s not simply about reading and cashing checks.
Just like being a Major League shortstop is about more than playing a game. Or how the guitarist from your favorite touring band doesn’t just play music every night. Or operating an 18 wheeler isn’t just driving across America as though it were some awesome road trip.
Sometimes when we’re on the outside looking in, we see people doing things we admire or wish we better understood, affixing to the occupation a sort of false comfort that doesn’t hold up to real world scrutiny. The party ain’t just champagne and chauffeured luxury cars.
We live in a time of weird expectations. Maybe we always have, but now there are just more channels of it. In keeping up with the Joneses sometimes we make some assumptions about the things in their garage that aren’t exactly accurate. When the television is filled with craftily thrown together “reality” shows with the aim to make the lives of others seem more glamorous than our own, it’s not hard to see why we assume others have it easier and that their perceived indifference to us comes off as such an affront.
I think I’ve lost the plot of what it is exactly I am trying to say and that’s ok, mine was just mindless commentary on what is the more important read—Janet’s piece.
Be good to yourself.