Oh Most Snarky One,
My question boils down to a few words:
How much sucking up do agents have to put up with?
One of the opportunities a conference I am going to next week offered was a critique of the first 10 pages of your manuscript by an agent or editor Today they told me which agent I would be meeting with to discuss the manuscript. Once I get past apologizing to this woman, who had to read my manuscript when I submitted it to her as the first agent I'd ever queried so that she's now read it twice, in two relatively sucky incarnations (not that I thought so at the time, but I've learned a great deal in the meantime), we won't have much to talk about.
The thing is, the reason I submitted my work to her first is that she's my ideal agent. I'd supply her with gin and chocolate, or whatever her vices are, from now to eternity if she'd represent me. Now, I know I can't tell her that -- it would sound like sucking up. I'd like to be able to tell her something about the terrific work I think she does, however, especially since her original rejection was very kind. Plus, I have every intention of submitting my current work in progress to her!
So...how much sucking up do agents hear from unpublished authors and can I say some nice things without sounding like a boot-licking sycophant?
First, don't mention any of that before stuff. Just say hello. Admire her coiffeure (unless it is on fire, then offer pail of water NOT gin). Thank her for her time. Listen to her advice. Don't argue with her (you'd be surprised at the twits who do this at conferences).
At a conference there are a couple people you don't want to be:
1. The crazy lady. There's always one. She is always two standard deviations off normal but it can take a couple minutes to figure it out. She's always the one who asks for your phone number so you can discuss her ideas in more depth.
2. The loudmouth. This is the one who hasn't figured out that pitching a project to an editor or agent during Q&A at a panel is a bad idea. Don't sit next to her. Don't talk to her. Don't sit on the same side of the room with her.
3. The apologist. The one who says "I know you're busy but". You're just as important as I am. Maybe more so. Respect yourself.
4. The complainer. Nothing goes right, and it's always the end of the world. No soap in the bathroom? Throw a hissy fit. Run out of Q&A time before the mic gets to you? Throw a snit fit.
Someone drank all the gin before you got to the bar? ...well, ok that's not complaint, that's a catastrophe.
5. The ringy-dingy-dingbat. Put your fucking phone on vibrate.
If you are none of those people, I will like you just fine. Well, as much as I like anyone, which is of course, not much UNLESS you happen to have an ARC of LOTTERY in which case Miss Snark is very fond of you.