Thursday, January 26, 2017

Well, it won't quite be the bum's rush

Totally Off-Topic, but I've just looked at a map of Manhattan showing the literary agencies within spitting distance of the hotel we'll be staying at Thurs-Sat. MY GOODNESS!! It's like a writer's dessert bar. So. Many. Is it really bad form to drop in and say hello? ;) 

I know Colin is joking around when he says this. YOU know Colin is joking around and yanking my chain just cause that's pretty hilarious to do.

My great fear is someone with less experience, and less time here on The Reef might read that and think "oh wait, what a good idea! What a great way to meet an agent!"

Do NOT do this.
Literary agencies are not retail, customer service based businesses such that you can walk in and ask for a price quote.

In fact, if you'd dropped in yesterday, even if I knew you, I'd have asked you to leave. I would have felt bad about it, but we were having book cases installed and people were working in different offices and there was a lot of noise, and books are everywhere. (As in on floors, on desks, on chairs!)

In other words, it's like dropping in on your mom the day she decided to wash every dish in the hutch by hand. She's glad to see you but this isn't the right time for tea and cookies.

We have had people drop by from time to time.
They never get past our Cerberus who is 5'1", size negative two, and the fiercest thing since ...well...me.  She knows her job and she does it well. 

Bottom line for those learning their way around publishing: it's easy to miss when someone is kidding around in a format that uses fonts for emoticons for winking or LOLing. Be aware of that and double check anything before you do it.


Bottom line for everyone: dropping in on agents is always the wrong choice. CALL, make an appointment and we're often times glad to see you.



45 comments:

AJ Blythe said...

Yes, ma'am. I promise no sneaky visits (you'd smell my offering of vegemite from a block away).

kathy joyce said...

So Colin, no agents, but have a great time! Good luck to your daughter. (I still think a pastry chef in the family is pretty cool!)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Advice:
I read an article about a floor collapsing under the weight of books, so distribute new shelves wisely.
Forget about the dusty dishes in the hutch. Tea and dust don't mix well. Let mom nap.
Always keep the office door (with peep hole)shut and locked from the inside.
Observation:
Diminutive people often have pit bull personalities.
And the new movie, Mr. Smith goes to NYC. Where's Jimmy Stewart when you need him?

Donnaeve said...

I wouldn't have the nerve anyway, so no worries for me. I do hope to meet my agent face to face one day. And my editor. It would strictly be by invitation. I'm not holding my breath.

It's easy to presume doing this might be okay, given the connections here, and having actually met QOTKU in the past. "Oh, she won't mind. It's me. She knows me. I'm practically like family."

I doubt even agents/editors "drop in" on one another. I bet QOTKU even makes an appt to see Ms. Poelle, and only gets in if she's bearing gifts.

:)

Theresa said...

I hope Colin and his daughter have a great time in NYC. I have to admit, I'm rooting for him to have a shark sighting (on the street, in a cafe). That would make for a great episode of Mr. Smith Goes to New York. Or a very special episode of Seinfeld where Kramer does a bus tour of famous literary agencies.

Janet's point is another good reminder to always act like a professional. That means calling ahead and making an appointment.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Sometimes I forget how. .. dense... NYC is, living in Western Australia.

Anyhoo, I'd be more a dash 'n' run, leaving my calling card with the top left folded over.

"Cerberus, dear, do let Het Sharkness know that the Duchess of Kneale stopped by. Ta muchly."

Lennon Faris said...

When I first started reading this blog a few years ago, I didn't 'get' a lot of the nuances and jokes. Maybe not 'dropping in unannounced,' but definitely things like 'fiction novel' which sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard to me now.

2Ns - when I hear 'pit bull personality,' I think of a basketball head, exuberant happiness, and a behind of steel that will knock things over. I know what you meant... it still made me giggle to think of a human like that. :D


S.D.King said...

So your mom did that too?

My mom could look past dust bunnies, dishes on the counter, a dirty mirror - but man, oh, man - those Fenton dishes and depression glass got washed!!

Steve Stubbs said...

You wrote: “CALL, make an appointment and we're often times glad to see you.”

So it;s OK after all, then? I’m glad we got that straightened out. Those earlier comments of yours had me confused. Should I bring tea and crumpets or would a bottle of Moon Mountain vodka be better?

french sojourn said...


Dear Scarlet Billows;

I am nothing if not a cautionary tale, and still aching from the eternal pain someone caused. Your advice of dropping in unannounced, well...been there done that.

It was after the return flight from Bora bora, you had work the next day, I had a passel of little ones to return home to. The spring in my step was threatening to turn into summer. I stopped and decided to see you one last time. As I flew up the stairs to your apartment I noticed a small sample book of paint colors by your door. I knocked slowly, my chest faltering, and some painter wearing only a loin-cloth dropcloth answered the door.

The rest of the day was a blur...Martini's and Boilermakers danced in the pit of my stomach. I awoke to screaming cats dancing about my head.

So learn this lesson from me, don't just drop by, it could be a pivotal moment in your life. And not the way you think.

Fondly
Felix Buttonweezer.

Susan said...

Well, there go my weekend plans. #thanksjanet

In all seriousness, I have a strict rule about people dropping by unannounced even at my home: don't do it. I usually love to see people, but it only takes a few seconds to send a text or call in advance, and that way I can make sure I reel in the mutt-monsters and keep my anxiety levels at bay. I imagine I would feel the same in an office setting.

New bookcases are always fun!

DLM said...

Donna, I wouldn't have the nerve either - and in this case, by "nerve" I don't so much mean courage as "THE NERVE OF THAT WOMAN!" Heh. (By the way, I can't comment on your blog anymore without logging on ... ? Apologies to Janet for the diversion, but I have no way to tell you!)

On the topic of calling for an appointment, I had a sense years ago when I started querying that this too was VERBOTEN. I would have sworn Janet had said something like this too, actually. I cannot imagine phoning for an appointment with an agent or agency, instead of querying!

Susan, exactly - I live alone and feel precisely zero obligation to answer my door if someone appears at it unannounced. 90% of the time in my life, that would turn out to be someone selling something, including religion or politics. Many times, I do not have the etiquettinal fortitude to manage such things with any form of grace, so it's better for all if I just ignore.

Joseph Snoe said...

Totally Inexplicable Synchronicity Alert!

When I lay in bed this morning still half-asleep, for no apparent reason I decided to give one of my future characters the nickname “Bum-Rush,” like Jason “Bum Rush” Johnson.

I can’t remember the last time I heard or read the term ‘Bum Rush’ and was surprised it came to mind this morning.

Imagine how many times I blinked when I saw the title of today’s blog.

Kregger said...

I'm glad to see that someone else has a pitbull for a secretary.
One day years ago, my wife complained to me that my secretary wouldn't put through her calls.
I know this sounds unbelievable, but this was before cell phones.
I told my wife to try smoke signals because that was how long ago this discussion occurred.
The rule in my office is I never, ever pick up the phone, and I don't take calls.
And like literary offices, occasionally, people wander into my office. It's like the phone had never been invented in my town.
The point is--the workplace is where production makes money--distractions reduce income.
Business is business. At the heart of business, every business is the same. Only the product is different.
Do I sound like someone you'd like to work for? I've only had to replace one employee in twenty-five years and that was due to retirement, and she volunteered to work for me from another state.
It bodes well if we all treat writing like a business.

Donnaeve said...

Hank a nod to you, even in fun you write superlative sentences! "The spring in my step was threatening to turn into summer."

Diane, I made a PSA yesterday (not sure how late) that I "think" that's been fixed. It's been crickets over there. Then again, I lost all my followers too. Unless someone re-follows, they won't see any new posts - and I'm not posting (obviously) at the old site. My excitement over the new one has dimmed due to the snags. Sigh.

Joseph Snoe said...

Whether you welcome unexpected visitors at work probably depends on your job. I didn’t appreciate it in my prior professions, but was thrilled by it as a professor (unless it was right before a class). I don’t like it at all when I’m in my basement writing.

Just wondering: Can Colin send out invitations to the NYC agents to meet at a hotel conference room between 5:00 and 7:00 for free drinks? They may come. At this point in his career, he and Johnny Walker are more famous than many agents.

Jenny Chou said...

Okay guys, the Literary Agencies of Manhattan Bus Tour is cancelled. I'll be refunding everyone's $26 through PayPal. You can keep the T-shirts.

Julie Weathers said...

I can't imagine why I'd ever be in NYC, but I certainly wouldn't be touring agent offices. The place would be frightening enough all on its own.

I briefly thought about seeing if Cody could get complementary tickets to the bull riding for Janet or minions of her choice, but thought a red headed stranger delivering tickets might not be welcome. All right, Cody isn't quite that bad, but a tall, red headed cowboy would probably not make it past the street door.

I used to have an awe inspiring gatekeeper when I was in real estate. She was great. Five foot nothing and full of fire is a fiercesome and wondrous sight to behold.

Colin Smith said...

We'll soon be boarding our flight to Charlotte, NC, so I'll have to be quick. Yes, I was yanking chains. But seeing the density of the agent population in midtown Manhattan, I can understand the temptation. If I'd thought about it, I would have arranged some agent visits. As it is, we'll just have to do some bar hopping. I'm sure we'll run into an agent or two or ten that way. ;)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Have a great trip Colin - I think if when you get to that block in NYC, if you douse yourself with agent fermones (aka Scotch) and have that tortured writer look (after so many trips to Carkoon, you should have this down), you should naturally attract the agents. Of course, if they are having a rough day, they may simply torture you with homonyms and Oxford commas. But you will get to see agents in their natural habitat. You could make a documentary possibly.

DLM said...

Donna, thank you! I have you bookmarked, and even if I were a follower, the way Blogger has decided to hide one's Reading List I'd lose track of you in any case, so I just hit up a lot of blogs on my own steam. So you haven't lost me!

Colin, gute fahrt! Looking forward to hearing your adventures.

Amy Schaefer said...

Hours after first reading this post, I am still reeling at the concept of dropping on unannounced on anyone, much less someone you might want to deal with in a professional capacity.

Many years ago, my husband and I were driving through the western US, and I mentioned that an author I liked lived in a city nearby.
"Why don't we stop by?" said Dear Husband, pulling into a gas station. "I bet we can find his address in the phone book."
My chest constricted, and I blinked away spots. As I sat in the passenger seat, clutching my chest and sputtering near-gibberish about Why We Will Never Ever Ever Do That, DH started laughing. He had never been serious - he just knew I would fall right into his trap at the horror of such an idea.

Marriage. It's a game of maturity.

Craig F said...

I knew that somewhere deep down there was a reason I read all of those police procedurals. Find the bar in the middle of all of that smorgasbord of Literary Agencies and wait for the Agents to straggle in. Very little is more effective than buying someone a drink at the end of a hard day dealing with people like me. It is much easier than tried to remember that saw about the size of the dog in the fight. Or is that the size of the fight in the dog.

Donna: Firefox is still blocking me from your site. I have contemplated trying Edge for it but Microsift's web browsers scare me.

BJ Muntain said...

I've been to NYC a few times, and the only times I've seen agents there were at the then-face-to-face Backspace Conference. (It's now an online-only conference.) I've met more agents at the Surrey Conference than I have in NYC. Of course, at a conference, there is a higher percentage of agents than in the normal population - even in NYC.

I think phoning agents (who aren't your agent) is frowned upon. Imagine how many calls from angry writers an agent might get? Perhaps, in Janet's office, calls like that go through Ms. Pitbull, so she says to make an appointment... and by the time of the appointment (3 months hence) the writer doesn't even remember the agent's name, let alone why they were angry.

By the way, did you see Janet tweet that New Leaf is looking for an intern? You probably have to be right there in NYC to do it, but it looks like a great opportunity for a young person wanting to learn the ropes of agenting. Or publishing, for that matter.

AJ: I'm sure Janet still remembers the vegemite that Gary Corby tried to poison her with. I don't think you'll get in the building with that!

Donna: If Janet makes an appointment to see Ms. Poelle, I'm sure it involves beverages.

Julie Weathers said...

Amy

That's sort of how Shelby Foote and Walker Percy met William Faulkner. They were in Faulkner's home town and Shelby said, "Let's stop by and see Faulkner."

Percy declined going to the door, but Foote did and asked him how he could get one of Faulkner's books. It's started a lifelong friendship. The world is not as innocent as it once was.

MNye said...

Ive no plans to fly anywhere, ever again. You're really more than safe.

Beth said...

I still like the suggestion of Colin setting up a meet and greet in the hotel lobby.

Colin Smith said...

We're in Charlotte, waiting to board our flight to JFK. Beth--that might still happen... ;)

John Davis Frain said...


When Colin just said he was "in Charlotte" I had a flashback to a flash entry from someone at the reef about a year or so ago when they used the phrase "in Diana" for the word Indiana. It was a wonderful entry, I wish I could credit the person who wrote it. In fact, if memory serves (ha! play along with me.), that entry was the winner for the week when Janet went to the Midwest Writer's Workshop in Muncie, Indiana and was agog about visiting Waffle House.

Sorry, short stray down Memory Lane there. Okay, back to Manhattan...

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Colin: Have a terrific time in NYC. It's one of my dreams - to venture away from the pastures and isolation, and see The Big Apple.

And don't forget! When you make your journey to see The Dakota, step over to the next block and stand in front of The Langham for me.

RachelErin said...

DLM -I don't think the phone call is instead of querying. Janet (and other agents) often say that their CLIENTS may call them. I think that is what she meant. (And probably good friends, or maybe even conference pals, but not agent-seekers).

But another agent wrote a few weeks ago that she would probably turn down lunch or coffee with a client, too. Given limited time, she would rather work on their behalf than socialize with them. Business lunches are rare, and with editors.

I can see her point, but I usually find working relationships improve with face-to-face, even if brief and rare (e.g. thirty minute coffee date twice a year). I don't know how many clients an established agent has. And the the choice between coffee with my agent, or her having coffee with an editor who is interested in my book is not difficult.

Janet Reid said...

I probably should not have said "call" since telephones are not your friend, but I was thinking of Colin who is under strict instructions to call me tomorrow so we can invite him over to help restock the bookshelvss. What? You thought he was getting tea and crumpets?

:)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Your Majesty! So very wise. After his move, Colin ought to be an absolute master of stocking bookshelves. Brilliant. Send pictures.

I am curious if actual Colin looks anything like the character I have envisioned.

Craig F said...

Yeah Colin, mom always liked you best too.

RachelErin said...

E.M. - Colin has a photograph of himself on his blog....

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Rachel - I want additional photographic evidence with which to compare to my fictional impression of Colin. I wonder if he'd be willing to wear gold and blue robes and wire rimmed glasses while he restocks bookshelves in the World Domination Cloak Room? It would really help me polish this draft of my WIP.

Probably not. Ah well. Must soldier on.

Amy Schaefer said...

Restock the bookshelves? I have a vision of your books stealing away in the dead of night, throwing themselves into the hands of discerning readers around town. Slipping through open windows, tucking themselves into backpacks on the subway, lying in wait at the the local brasserie and looking for a likely prospect.

AJ Blythe said...

Janet, I love restacking bookshelves! Just did Heckle and Jeckle's last week and we all enjoyed it. They had stacks on the floor because the shelves were full, so we pulled out books from when they were younger and then had the fun of restacking. We found old favourites, argued about the merits of Artemis Fowl versus Skullduggery Pleasant and probably took twice as long to do the task as we should have because we kept "just having a peek" between the pages of books previously buried at the bottom of a pile. They now have fully stacked, alphabetised by author, shelves (and yes, they have that many books - my, and their, weakness).

Craig F I'm on Firefox and can access Donna's site , although Wordpress won't let me comment without logging in, and I have to work out what that login is first, but that's my cobwebbed brain, not Firefox.

Donnaeve said...

WArning Warning Warning.

Colin stocking bookshelves? His own, maybe. So, no worries about the weight distribution of those shelves, QOTKU. He'll have them home in no time flat.

Craig, I don't know why Firefox would be blocking you, but I do know that the web hosting site said there were some strange firewall things going on between them and Wordpress. Maybe I can ask what would cause that, and see if they know.

Susan said...

Diane: Same. If I'm already nearby and the doorbell rings, I'm pretty forgiving. But if I'm napping and they wake me up, hell hath no fury...

Oooh! Organizing bookshelves! I'm green with envy. Although my parents just called me and asked if I was feeling well enough to join them for a book sale in Delaware tomorrow. 60,000 books to choose from? I'll drag myself there. And just when I was making a dent in the TBR pile, too...

Craig F said...

Okay, Donna: My bookmark kept doing that Warning, warning thing so I googled it and it came up. Then I re-bookmarked it and it works. Love the monarch butterfly chrysalises.

Now all I have to do is remember what my comment for you was.

Craig F said...

Also, this is a new computer. It currently has microsift's essential crap, WebRoot and a Geek Squad cyber something. It was a fight to make windows 10 accept Firefox on this beast. Who knows?

Karen McCoy said...

Thinking about stocking bookshelves gives me librarian PTSD.

Have fun in New York, Colin!

I guess it goes to show...if you can't be a good example, you can be a terrible warning...

Colin Smith said...

We trekked across Broadway and are now at the hotel. I won't detail our adventures here--I will be blogging all this though. :)

Janet: I'll bring my bag in case some of those books don't fit... :D

Michael Seese said...

Wait. I thought you and Barbara Poelle shared an office named "Public House." So I just assumed...