You don't need more friends, and if you do, I'm not it

Dear Miss Snark

Somewhere in 2005 you talked about expectations one can have for agents, one of them being the agent is not your friend, no invites to the beach house for a long weekend, nothing involving your bunny slippers etc. You also mentioned somewhere that you would know your client’s cat’s name. LOL. Awhile back I was a technical recruiter and had long notes on anything a candidate ever told me about their personal life, including spouse names, pets, kids etc. So I understand why this is important for maintaining a friendly yet professional relationship.

In the interest of remaining professional with your agent, what personal information does an agent really want to have about their client?

For example, say I’m a night person, do my best writing at night and am usually not out of bed before 11am. I will not be up to check emails but will answer the phone at any hour, even from a dead sleep. I would be hesitant to tell that to an agent as it is personal and maybe something I should keep to myself.

Or say I suffer from migraines and take medicine x and medicine y. Having migraines may hamper my ability to write. Medication may hamper my ability to be up-right and typing.

This is information I may not want to reveal with the risk of seeming like an unprofessional mess. Do agents want this sort of information? Does it matter? Besides pet’s names, what personal info do you truly want to have on a client?

***BTW praises to your snarkiness. It fucking kicks ass***

There's a huge difference between knowing the info that helps me communicate with you best, and being Sex In the City Brunch buddies.

I ask prospective clients about the best time to reach them. I'm a night owl and I don't want anyone calling me before 10am for any reason except the imminent arrival of the Risen Lord.

I keep track of spouse's names, kidlet names, contents of menagerie cause it's more polite to say "how is Uncle Fenster" than "how is that nefarious feline that lies on your manuscript pages and drives KY to a frenzy".

If someone tells me they are on meds I really don't pay much attention. How you get your work done, and when isn't my concern. Meeting your deadline is the only thing I care about. If you have a situation that affects the deadline, tell me. I don't need details of why.

What I mostly can't stand are people who don't understand this is a business relationship and I need some emotional distance from clients. I can't be your best friend no matter how much I like you cause it's NOT in your best interest. I'm a good agent and that means sometimes I have to kick your ass. And sometimes you're not going to like it one damn bit. And it helps a whole lot if "how can you say that; I thought we were friends!!" isn't one of the phrases hurled at my head.

You don't need more friends. You need an agent.


graciesls said...

Thanks for posting and answering my question Miss Snark.

I appreciate your frank and snarkalicious ways!!!

Kim Stagliano said...

Call it "Obstetrician syndrome." After helping you remove several pounds of human from your previous petite nether regions most women develop a huge crush on their OB. Writing a book is akin to giving birth. Messy, painful and someone ends up screaming. Therefore its easy to develop a crush on your agent. My agent looks like Clark Gable and than ain't helping me. But I know not to tell him I have cramps and can't edit or that my Grandmother Tortellini has shingles and I can't write a single word. Damn this is fun.

Dennis said...

What about the other way around? Have you ever found yourself representing a friend? Someone you knew before they wrote or you agented? Does that happen, or do you just not go there?
And if you have, what happens to the friendship? Does that person expect more from you than the typical client?

Anonymous said...

Don't call before 10 A.M.

And if that's when George C. is in the neighborhood, he should just walk on by?

Anonymous said...

I actually DO need more friends, but I don't expect my agent to be one of them.

Judy Schneider said...

I don't tell my agent much of anything that's non-project-related. Frankly, I'm too busy to chit-chat and she's too busy to care. We have, as Miss Snark suggested, a business relationship.

Fortunately, we both have one goal in mind: To sell my books! After all, isn't that what we all want in the end?

Ryan Field said...

My best friend is an agent and we NEVER discuss business (not in detail; I did mention "vidlit" yesterday...just to be pedantic because I knew he wouldn't know what it was :)...sometimes we even discuss Miss Snark, but that's it)because it would be too awkward. I've seen too many times how people have hocked him for representation with complete trash. When he rejects these so-called friends it's always the end of the friendship because they couldn't handle the rejection. I wouldn't even recommend someone to him because I think it would cross a line. Sometimes friendship is more important.

Anonymous said...

This post drives home the differences in agent styles. My agent doesn't even know if I'm married, let alone the name of my spouse! Let's just say the woman doesn't go in for chit chat.

S. W. Vaughn said...

That's awesome, Ryan.

Anonymous said...

I don't think my agent has any knowledge of my marital or family status. I've never had cause to mention it. I may make a joke in my email communication, but that's because I'm an incredibly witty and modest person, and I can't help it. Since she's at least as funny as Miss Snark, her emails always make me smile in return.

Manic Mom said...

My agent and I are on a first-name basis, and that's been as intimate as it's needed to be in the beginning. We are slowly getting to know one another, like now I know she likes mint ice cream, and she called me 'a doll' the other day.

I don't know if she's married, has children, how old she is, nothing.

And right now, it's not important. What's important is that she loves my book, and wants to sell it.

The rest, will come.

Emily Veinglory said...

Heh. Somewhat tangentally--when anyone says their kid is 'their best friend' you just know there's going to be trouble down the line.

A lot of relationships are friendly without being... friendish.

Desperate Writer said...

Oh, well, I need an agent for more reasons that one, then. I could use a good ass-kicking.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to meet my agent for the first time--a year-and-a-half since we got together, but only a month after we finally got a deal.

Anonymous said...

My agent is a personable guy; in between talks about business and upcoming projects, he asks how life is going, shares the occasional family-related/life in the Big Apple anecdote, and generally makes sure I'm not about to go bonkers and hurl myself off a bridge.

He's also the shrewdest business man I know, and thank dog for that!

Twill said...

Don't you mean the "Risen Droll"?