I was recently pointed toward a blog post written by an agent who describes herself as The Gatekeeper. I swallowed my annoyance at that designation (ask me why I refuse that label if you don't know) and read on.
The question posed to her was:
What's the best way to handle the, "Who offered representation?" inquiry?
Her reply starts this way:
First of all--not that I think you should say so--but if any agent says, "Oh yeah? Another agent offered you representation? Well, WHO? Who are they??"--or even a gentle, "Oh, that's interesting. Who?"--I would consider it pushy, rude, and a breach of etiquette.
What a crock of shit.
Competition is not an insult. If you don't know who your competition is, how are you supposed to know how to hone your pitch? This "we can't compete cause we know each other" sounds like junior high girls, and if you want a 12-year-old as your agent, well, ok.
She goes on further:
There's a reason you're supposed to write "An agent" versus "[Name of agent]." We exist in a small world; in many cases we know each other--and just as all New Yorkers would go crazy if they were expected to talk to everyone on the subway, there are times we have to pretend we have more space and territory. We really, truly don't want to know that we're competing with friends for the same project. That's like finding out you're both writing a piece for the same publication--and comparing how much you got paid. No good can come of it.
What the fuck? We don't want to know if our friends are competing for a project? How do you know it's a friend and not a fly-by-night scumbag if you don't ask.
The idea that a professional agent wouldn't avail herself/himself of every single piece of information to make a deal (exactly what signing a desired client is) is crazy.
I bring the same intent to win to a sales pitch for signing a client as I do to making a deal.
You certainly don't have to answer the question if you don't want to, but if you think I'm rude for asking, well, you do need to sign with someone else.
The trouble with agent blogs that make blanket statements using "We" is that often they aren't We but wee.
This is one of the best examples of why you want to read many blogs and balance the opinions you hear. One agent, even the amazing me, is not the All Powerful All Knowing.