Yea, I confess. I was really rude to an author tonight.
Yes, I know better.
Yes, I should have better manners.
Yes, I'm probably going to straight to hell in this handbasket thing that just came Federal Express from some guy named Luc StNoir.
Here's my side of the story. (There's probably another one, but this is my blog, my version)
I went to an event that was chockablock full of authors tonight. Normally I fly very much under the radar at these things. No name badge, certainly no introducing myself with my full name or with the company name. I never say what I do. If anyone asks I say "sales" and hope they think it's a fancy way of saying taxi dancer at a waterfront dive bar.
Sometimes my cover gets blown. Tonight was one of those nights. I didn't make a big deal of it, just steered the conversation to something safe like the presidential election or why it should be legal to serve cat meat in a restaurant.
My luck ran out at the end of the event. 100 people were headed toward the exit, as I was, and I got buttonholed by an author. "Do you represent cozies?" she asked. I responded that I represented all kinds of crime fiction. "Are cozies considered crime fiction?" came next.
Now, it's 9pm, I'm trying to leave to get home and do four more hours of work, and my temper slipped a bit. "Cozies have always been considered crime fiction," I said in my most forbidding tone, one that is supposed to convey "and that's the last word we'll have on this subject."
Then it happened. The next words out of her mouth were "my book is about" and that is where I surrendered the last vestige of good manners, proper upbringing and bought my one way ticket to hell. I said "don't tell me about your book."
Could I have said any one of ten thousand other things? Yes. I could have said "I'm sorry but I can't hear you." I could have feigned a choking fit. I could have channelled Rita Rosenkranz the most polite and gracious agent in the world.
I didn't. I said "don't tell me about your book."
There may be some redemption for me in that I did remember to say "you can send me a query letter and I'll read it" but basically I told her to take a hike.
I'm not proud of this, and I'm probably going to try hard not to do it again. On the subway home, I figured out how I will avoid this in the future.
It turns out some clients of mine own children. Very cute ones in fact. I've met two and they were quite charming. Other clients have children they have not shown me yet (probably a well developed sense of protecting their kids accounts for this oversight.)
Here's my plan. I'm going to get an array of photos of these CCC (Cute Client Children) and the next time someone says "can I tell you about my book" I'm going say "sure, absolutely, but first let me show you pictures of these great kids." I figure 50 pictures should do it. If by some horrid chance there aren't 50 children, I'll start collecting pictures of dogs, cats...and goats.
yup, that's the plan! I'll let you know how it goes.
And in case anyone reading this gets the wrong idea, this event was not a writing conference or workshop. It was not an event designed for authors to meet agents. I wouldn't have said that at a writing conference or one of those events.
And if you're reading this and wondering how to avoid being the person who has to look at all those pictures here's the drill:
If you meet an agent at a social event you do not initiate talk about your book. If s/he asks, you can respond, but you do not initiate that conversation.
Agents are on the lookout for good books, but generally we watch for them in our incoming queries, not in hurried conversations in a throng of people.
Have I initiated interest in books at gatherings like these? You bet. It's ALWAYS after a conversation that covered a topic of interest to me, and the author mentioned their book was on that subject. The author did not say "would you like to read it." I said "I'd love to read it."
See the difference?
Social contact with agents can be effective if you don't fling yourself at us.