Thank yous

Dear Miss Snark,

Three related questions:

First, I've heard it said not to send anything to one's agent as a thank-you other than a nice, handwritten card -- stressing that this is a job, and as the agent is not in fact being "nice" but just doing a job, anything else is overkill. I've read stories of wilting flower bouquets and uneaten fruit baskets, and although I'm pretty sure you'd make an exception for a gin pail or George Clooney's home number, what, in your opinion, do other agents tend to think on this matter? I'd feel like a little bit of a nitwit if I called my agent and said, "so what would you like me to send you to say thanks?" (But if you can think of a tactful way to do just that, I'd be game!)

Second, when in the process does one send whatever it is one has deemed appropriate? When the contract is signed? When the book goes on sale? When Miss Snark plugs the ARC on her blog? All of the above?

And third, I've noticed I tend to say "thanks!" in most of my e-mails to my agent. I'm not trying to be suck-up-ish, I just think I have an awesome agent who does her job very well, and she deserves to know I appreciate her hard work. But how does one know when enough becomes too much, the agent's eyes start rolling, and George is summoned to start the IV gin drip?

Thanks (see, there I go again!) so much.

1. I've received an assortment of things, most recently the entire inventory of a saloon which comes in quite handy on the days it's raining too hard to slink over to the Bathtub Bar and Still.

Flowers are almost always lovely, bottles of hooch as well. You can ask the agent's other clients what they sent. But really and truly, giftage is not a requirement of the deal.

2. Mostly I get the swag when contracts are signed. That's kind of a big deal moment, and we all feel like celebrating a lot, particularly if it was a long process.

3. It's never ever wrong to say thank you to your agent in an email (well, ok "you stink, you're fired, thanks for nothing" is the exception). Even Miss Snark's cold cruel heart is slightly thawed by "thank you, you're the best" in emails.


Kimber Li said...

Isn't it amazing we have to worry about the simple courtesy of saying thank you?

Thank you, Queen Snark.

ORION said...

I have discovered that chocolate and macadamia nuts are never rejected.
One thing I might add.
Do not forget assistants. They are invaluable. Those people who answer the phone? Who take messages? The guys in the mailroom?
These are the cogs in any well-greased literary agents office -- especially a large one.
And mom is right. SAY thank you.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Oh - darn. I thought the most appropriate way to say thanks was to send 10,000 pages of my old novels that I haven't been able to sell yet to them in hope of the agent breathing them new life. Guess THAT's one thank you package that won't be treasured forever? :p

Anonymous said...

My long-suffering agent of 11 years is a goddess.

I have sent flowers to say thank you for special sales. (I have done this to thank editors, too.)

She works hard, and I am not the ideal client. Every so often I let her know how much I appreciate her efforts.

But bottom line: this is a business like any other. We get along very well, but always keep things on a professional level.

Mutual respect and a pro 'tude is the best way to go.

Yasmine Galenorn said...

I really like my agent, in addition to being happy with her work for me. I've sent her two gifts--one when she had a personal loss in her life, one when one of my books was released that meant a great deal to me. The first gift was a little stuffed bear, the second, flowers.

Both times, I received a sincere thank you--she seemed very happy. I send her a cute card now and then, just to say hi, and I send her thank you cards when each book comes out or when I sign contracts for new books. I never send food or alcohol gifts to agents/editors (I'm all too aware of food allergies from my own life), and I will never send anything huge or unwieldy.

Most of all, though, I make sure she knows I appreciate the work she does and the deals she gets me. I also make sure my editor knows I appreciate her work, and her assistant and the publicist. Not just good business, but good manners--they work hard and it's amazing how little recognition some of them get.


Anonymous said...

At the point when I was offered a contract, I sent an email to the agent questioning some aspects of the contract, and the last one was "do you prefer chocolate chip cookies, or belgian chocolate?"

He replied, "Chocolate, if you please."

By serendipity, the signed contract and the box of chocolate arrived on the same day, which also happened to be agent's spouse's birthday. And there was much happiness.

(http://www.burdickchocolate.com/ is awesome, btw.)

Kit Whitfield said...

Saying 'thank you' to ingratiate yourself and manipulate someone is sucking up; saying 'thank you' because you appreciate someone's hard work is just being nice. And niceness is never misplaced.

Anonymous said...

I have sent my agent AND her assistant gift baskets filled with epicurian snackie goodies. I have also sent them both some pretty wonderful bath and body luxuries from a very high end store. All were appreciated. :)