Saturday, July 11, 2009

I'm in awe

I joke around a lot about Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency. We've been friends for a good long while; I adore her, and I admire her taste in writers (Sophie! Jamie! Graham!)

Tonight though, all kidding aside, I just want to go on record saying I'm in awe of Barbara. She's always been a workhorse; she makes the rest of us look like slackers even on our best days.

On Thursday, Barbara was one of the many agents at the CraftFest segment of ThrillerFest. She listened to 75 pitches. 75 three minute pitches. No breaks. No pause. That's 225 minutes of listening to people talk about their books without a pause for a drink, the bathroom, or just to reorient herself to reality.

If you were to look at this on a graph here's what it would look like if you were at the end of that line:


I'll bet a cold hard hundred dollar bill that person #75 got the same smart, fresh, enthusiasm that person #1 did because Barbara gives her all to people coming to this kind of event.

I thought I had set a land speed record of 50 at the BEA pitch slam--and I was a drooling idiot at the end of that.

At the end of 75 pitches, Barbara merrily went off to a meeting with her clients.

I can't think of an agent I admire more right now than Barbara.
Please don't EVER tell her I said so of course, or I'll have to turn in my shark avatar for something with a pink kitten.

Just remember this: when you're on the hunt for a ferociously talented agent, you'll want to make sure Barbara Poelle is on that list.


Rick Daley said...

I can buy the pink octopus, it's aquatic, too far from a shark in that regard. But if you show up as a kitten, I will surely take that as a sign of the coming apocalypse.

Douglas L. Perry said...

I think I was pitch number 55 or so and you are correct, she was enthusiastic, compassionate, and a great listener. I cannot imagine how hard it would be to sit there listening to pitch after pitch without a break. I talked to 13 agents (with 11 requests for more info, yippee) and was so tired that I could barely stand.

I am sure after like 20, I would be bouncing my head off the desk.

After all was said and done it was great fun for me, I hope it was for the agents.

All I can say is, you guys work hard!!

Mira said...

Awww...I have to tell you I can recognize a friendship when you write a tribute like this, which was rather touching, actually, and then have that label - lol.

Thanks - it sounds like your friend is an amazing agent.

But don't worry. This will be just between you and us posters. We'll never tell!

Liana Brooks said...

You two make a cute pair of elasmobranchs. Try not to endanger anyone while you're running loose this weekend.

Livia Blackburne said...

I'm amused by your visual aid :-)

Kathryn Hupp-Harris said...

If she asks, we'll just tell her it's opposite day.

laughingwolf said...

wow... just WOW!

DK said...

Hey, Janet. Not to pick nits, but you have displayed 85 plus signs, not 75. It's impressive, nevertheless.

Janet Reid said...

Nitpick away! I fixed it.

Funny thing is, I looked at that last night a couple times to make sure. I guess I shouldn't do ..ahem...higher maths!..when I've had seven scotches.

Or was it eight?

Josie Brown said...

Yeah, seriously, Barbara Poelle is one helluv an agent, and one sweet, big-hearted, wise-crackin' full-of-life bouncin' (and belly-floppin') bean. She is, truly, one of the bright lights of the publishing world.


Now, that is someone who really enjoys what she does!

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

Watching you and Barbara go back and forth at BEA was worth the price of the ticket. Good job, Barbara. I just might have to query you...;-)

Robin Morrison said...

I fear the following may sound whiny but nonetheless think it's apropos:

"Sophie! Jamie! Graham!"

tells a soon to be submitting author like me little to nothing.

For the record, my mind fills the blanks like so:

Sophie Tucker. Jamie Garofalo. Graham Hancock. I know these are all wrong, the middle one doubly so.)

Assuming one chief purpose of this blog is to encourage writers to submit work of a type that is both good and compatible with current market trends to which you have some access, I would prefer to know whom these authors are, not what cognoscenti call them.

I'm sure you had no intention to do anything so crass as name-drop but only meant to express sincere adoration for contemporary authors you greatly admire. I like that, just as I like that you extol your admired competition. Good form.

But the effect is the same: you, in effect, display hipness while I remain clueless. I am not at all well read in contemporary authors but am by no means ill read. I have read all but one of Vladimir Nabokov's novels and enjoy my Raymond Chandler well-aged but only slightly smoked, and worship at the William Gibson author, especially his post-futurist (love the irony) work.

Someone has to retain the outmoded past so that the literary wheel may be reinvented in the same old new guise; it takes a Luddite to distinguish leather from naugahyde, I feel. But I do succumb to research impulses, especially when seeking to add finesse to what I submit to whom.

So please, I beg of thee, if ye would have submitting authors be directed and maybe even inspired by your guiding lights, please use their full names?

If they write truly well AND enjoy considerable success, I want to spell their names on my voodoo pin dolls correctly.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Wow. That's amazing. I can hardly sit still for a two hour movie, much less almost four hours of someone talking and needing me to pay attention.

(How about an avi of a shark EATING a pink kitten?)

Robin Morrison said...

Oops."William Gibson shrine", not "author". I write pretty sumdey.

Janet Reid said...

I know the following sounds bitchy, and I don't care.

Do I need to spoon feed you the titles and ISBNs as well?

If you go to the Irene Goodman Literary Agency website, EACH ONE OF THOSE AUTHORS is listed.

You've struck a nerve here because one of the MANY things that annoy the snot out of me are people who don't do even the most rudimentary of searches before asking a question.

I'm not the only one this annoys; there's an actual site called Just Fucking Google It for this syndrome.

Try to find the answer before you ask the question or post the comment. If you can't actually find it, mention that in the question.

Ricky Bush said...

I KNEW that there was some place I should have been this weekend instead of sitting around in the triple digit temperatures down here in Texas. Sounds like Barbara Poelle is a rare jewel. Anyway-- said...

What a wonderful woman. Not to take anything from her, but she reminds me of an agent with similar talent: do you remember our beloved Miss Snark? She once endured and replied to 700 written pitches in 3 or 4 days time, and it was Christmas, to boot. I felt so bad for her. She should have been winding her way through all the parties and swigging gin by the pailful, but no; she was working with the same kind of grace, stamina, and charm. She and Ms. Poelle must be on the same meds. Anyone else would go stark-raving bonkers.

Mira said...

Janet, you're funny. You got all soft and warm, so now you have to get all grumpy. :-)

So, okay, I get it. Research before you ask.

BJ Bourg said...

Ms. Reid,

This is the first time I've been to your blog and I don't usually post comments on any blog, but I was also annoyed by Venmeer's comment to you.

In your post, you provided more than enough information for us to find everything we needed on the agent, her agency, her clientele, and her guidelines. Thank you kindly for posting your message, as she represents the type of books I write and I hadn't discovered her yet.

Rebecca Knight said...

That is wonderful :). It's awesome that even though you guys sometimes are "competing" for an author (and Barbara is sending interns with shiny new books over to distract you), you still have the Love.

This was a great post to read!

And yeah, mum's the word...

Kourtnie McKenzie said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Janet! I did some Googling on Barbara Poelle and found an interview she participated in that made my day. "Monkey knife fight" is the best.

I was curious--I noticed Steven Fisher is attending the Hawaii Writer's Conference this year. Was there a chance Barbara Poelle would be attending?