Sunday, July 31, 2011

The more available agents are, the harder it is to get them to answer questions!

I'm seeing a rash of people asking me questions on Twitter.  I understand their motivation: they're trying to figure out how all this crazy publishing stuff works.

But I'm not on Twitter to answer questions. And I generally don't. I'm pretty sure that's frustrating as hell to writers.  All those agents, and they only talk about scotch, cupcakes, and books.

It's the same thing with phone calls to the office.  I've gotten a couple of those last week, and people are furious I won't help them on the phone.

So, what to do?

One way to get questions answered: go to a conference or a writing workshop.  There are lots of good conferences. Most agents post lists of where they'll be.  Since you can't pry me out of NYC with a crowbar, I'll be at Backspace here in NYC on 11/3.

And my pal Jenny Milchman is teaching a class called POLISHED AND PUBLISHED: Readying a Novel for a Changing Industry.  Jenny is a whiz at explaining how publishing works and helping writers navigate the arcane ways of this crazy industry.

Conferences and classes cost you money.  It's a good investment in your career.  Do some research; figure out which class or conference will help you, then invest in yourself.


Joanna said...

Never stop tweeting about scotch, cupcakes and books.. I love to know people have a life outside the office. Otherwise, thanks for this advice.

Josin L. McQuein said...

It's obviously psychological warfare.

You stop taking queries so you have a chance to get through the ones you've currently got, so, it's only a logical extension of that idea that says if you get so many inquiries by Twitter and phone (don't be surprised if you don't get an in-person drop-in or two) that you can't get through your back log you'll have to reopen to queries!

See? Simple.

Either that, or it's Sunday and my thought processes have taken the day off. :/

Janet Reid said...

I deleted your comment with links to
other conferences.

I prefer to have people NOT post links to other conferences unless I've checked them out first.

Not all conferences are created equal.

Riley Redgate said...

Thank God for the trusty #askagent!

(Also, I'll see you at Backspace! I'll be the one quailing in terror.)

Marsha Sigman said...

Well now you're just being mean.

I mean yeah, you blog with useful information and links to awesome articles we would otherwise never see, you critique at QueryShark, read slush, and still manage to maintain one of the best reputations as an agent in the industry but refusing to answer all the questions put to you in tweets is just unreasonable.

I mean it's not like you have to sleep.

Disclaimer: This sarcastic ass-kissing comment has no underlying motive. You don't rep my genre. But we could still be best friends...I'll tweet you. Or maybe call the office repeatedly.

Sarah Nicolas said...

And if you don't have money for rent, not to mention for conferences or classes (Say, for example: because you've been laid off three times in two years. Purely hypothetical, of course), there are a lot of resources available online where you can learn just as much for free - as long as you do your research and make sure the information sources are reputable.

And there are many agents who will occasionally post open threads where you can ask them questions on forums and their blogs, as well as on twitter.

I just wanted to mention this because, in this economy, there are people who don't even know how they're going to pay rent or buy food and feel like they have to keep flying blind because they don't have money for classes and conferences. Sadly, though, most of those people probably aren't seeing this site.

Janet Reid said...

That's an excellent point Sarah. Sadly, I agree that a lot of the folks in those circumstances won't see the post.

Janet Reid said...

Marsha, feel free to call. Make sure you ask for Barbara Poelle. That's my real name.

jennymilch said...

Thanks so much for mentioning my upcoming class, Janet! Shark-lovers, if you have any interest in the course, I anticipate it being a real interaction between aspiring, emerging, and published writers. Happy to answer any questions or thoughts--just email jenny(at)jennymilchman(dot)com :)

Anonymous said...

Research is invaluable. I've learned so much (and I still am) from Twitter, blogs, and Google. It's a matter of looking for the information, while realizing there's some good stuff and some crap out there -- it doesn't HAVE to cost money. It does, however, require time and effort.

And now I want cupcakes. ;-)

Julia said...

"Backspace co-founders Karen Dionne and Christopher Graham would like everyone to know that the 2013 Backspace Writers Conference May 23-25 in New York City was our last."


Yup. That, again, was my forehead hitting my desk... I got so blasted excited... A GOOD CONFERENCE! I MIGHT BE... Able... to... gooooo.... thisss... yearrrr.... noooo...

And this is what happens when you spend all day - except for your daughter's field hockey game - reading someone's blog Trying To Learn. Inevitably, you come across out of date info.