Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The trouble with godsends

I have had the good fortune to work with some terrifically talented people at the start of their publishing careers. They come in to the office bright eyed and enthusiastic. They take on all manner of tasks cheerfully. They read late into the night and still show up in the morning to open the doors, start the coffee, field the phone calls and sort the mail.

When we advertise for people to fill these positions we say "assistant." We're wrong. The people who do this job are godsends. The office simply could not run at the high volume, brisk pace it does without those people doing their jobs well. They are key players in our success. Every single person at FinePrint knows and appreciates that.

There's just one small tiny(horrible) problem with godsends: They learn. Quickly. They learn how wonderfully fun it is to be an agent.

First they find a manuscript they love. Next thing you know they're wooing a new client.

I'm all in favor of this of course except for one small tiny (horrible) thing: who's going to send my faxes (I'm not actually allowed to touch the fax machine!) and get me mocha lattes in the afternoon now?? Yes, I know it sounds selfish. Ok, it IS selfish. I get that.

It's just that the smarter they are and the better at being godsends, the shorter amount of time till they get that glint for agenting in their eye.

The most recent godsend slinking over to the dark side is our beloved Suzie Townsend. I'm not sure she sleeps. I think she'd probably have made a darn good gunnery sergeant if she'd felt the call to serve in the Marines.

She's one of the most organized, and least flappable people I've ever known, let alone worked with. She's got a keen eye for good novels too.

Fair warning: if Suzie calls to talk about your manuscript and whether you might like to sign up with her, just say yes. She may not have much experience, but she's got exactly what it takes to be a great agent. Dammit.


Kim said...

What does she like and how can I get in touch with her?

Laurel said...

I'm not sure if you just did Suzie a favor or completely threw her under the bus.

It does cross one's mind that you could be seeking revenge for being forced to work the fax machine yourself.

Anonymous said...

I've had that experience in the Editorial dept., though I was finally lucky enough to get a "godsend" who was not only good at all the tasks I gave her, but also LOVED the job she had. She never made noises about promotion and had no ambitions as far as my department was concerned. All she wanted in life was a pile of free manga. In some ways, I envied her. ;-)

OTOH, to watch a butterfly spread its wings right under your eyes is an amazing experience. Congrats to Suzie for reaching her aspirations! Funny coincidence ... mine was named "Suzy" too!

Anonymous said...

congratulations to Ms. Townsend.

And what Kim ^ said.

Brigid said...

Wait! What? How can I query this fine woman? I love people who don't sleep -- makes me feel like I've found a soulmate.

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Hey, Janet! Follow the damn directions...

1)Contact information
2)Major area (genres) of interest
3)Not interested in
4)Email? Snail mail? Both? preference... see contact info
5)Will be at these conferences...

Sheesshhhh! How many times? How many times? Good luck, Suzi!

Haste yee back ;-)

Susan Adrian said...

Congratulations to Suzie!!

(and Joanna, and Laura, and...wow, you do have a good track record for godsends!)

laughingwolf said...

careful janet, your carefully cultivated image is showing some cracks... hairline, but still ;) lol

Victoria Schwab said...

Too true!

Suze is one of the most phenomenal people I have EVER had the pleasure of knowing. I can't even count the number of times she has saved my sanity, made me smile, or sigh with relief, or simply praise the heavens for sending her.

She is going to make a WONDERFUL agent, and anyone lucky enough to get that phone call is truly blessed.

Melanie Avila said...

Good luck to Suzie!

keli scrapchansky said...

How can I find this Suzie? Where is her blog?

Eileen said...

Congrats to Suzie!

When people ask me advice on getting an agent I suggest checking out new agents. They are actively looking for clients versus having a nearly full list. Look for a new agent that is with an established agency where they can get advice and mentorship. It's a great option.

dylan said...

Dear Ms. Reid,
In keeping with the poetry recently featured on your blog...

The Trouble With Godsends

Efficiency will slip,

Effectiveness will downtrend,

When the agents lose their grip,

On a Godsend known as Townsend.


Joanna said...

Suzie and I have very similar taste and she has clearly kicked my butt in the Godsend department--Go Suzie!

Laura Marie said...

Congratulations Suzie! I'm positively thrilled for you. :)

Josin L. McQuein said...

I think Ms. Townsend is about to suffer a bout of full inbox syndrome. (very crafty revenge scheme for the fax issues)

Her email's s.townsend@godsend.com, right?

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

I'm sure she's not the only one who never sleeps. Sorry about the revolving door.

Best of luck to Suzie!

suzie said...

Thank you Janet - and don't worry I will always send faxes for you :)

Thank you all for the congratulations (and the awesome poem!)

Buffy Andrews said...

I think it's awesome that Suzie is getting this opportunity to pursue her dream. It just goes to show you that hard work pays off and that when you give 200 percent, people notice. I always tell my reporters and editors and copy editors that if they want to be mediocre, go work for someone else. I'm interested in working with people who want to do the best work of their lives, who want MY job. Suzie sounds like she's committed, hard working and all of those things that will make her a star. So best of luck and I hope that being an agent is everything she wants it to be.