Thursday, April 10, 2008

Stalking Your Agent's Other Clients

If you are lucky enough to secure representation by a big-time Literary Agent, here are three things you should never do:

1) Never put your Literary Agent’s name on Google Alerts so that you can be notified every damn time they make a sale or sign a client.

2) Never collect a list of other writers they represent, either culled by disregarding my #1 piece of advice or by typing the agent’s name into Amazon to see which authors thank her/him in their acknowledgments, or by any other cunning method yet unknown to me.

3) If you’ve already gone as far as #2, for God’s sake do not, for any reason, spend an evening web-hunting the writers who have made it on this list. You must realize that writers will only list successes on their blogs/websites, which, after reading, will lead directly to some serious self loathing.

There’s a reason most agents don't tell their clients the names of their other clients. Because reading the chipper websites and blogs of writers recently signed to your agent, all full of hope and promise and – ugh – good news, can do nothing positive for your writing. If you’re looking to get a bleeding ulcer they’re top notch, other than that there’s no reason to do this kind of stalking research.

Maybe this whole path to publication, which for me has been one gigantic, slowly meted dose of discomiture, is designed to toughen you up for when your manuscript is published and gets reviewed. Maybe it’s like how being unable to sleep well while pregnant prepares you for the next decade of sleep deprivation. Or maybe my manuscript just sucks.

I don’t know much but I do know this: Google Alerts is a gateway drug to full-blown peer stalking and the inevitable ego mangling that it induces. I wish I’d never taken that first hit, because now I can’t stop...


Anonymous said...


I prescribe a hefty vodka and something and a long sit in a sunny yard with green grass and flowers.

I'm meeting with my writing students all day, or I'd do it for you right now, even though it's only almost 11.

Instead, I'll do it this afternoon even though I don't have anything in my planters yet.


Christy Raedeke said...

Ha! Yes, vodka sounds like a good antidote, with or without the greenery...

Graeme Stone said...

Oh no, I'm so guilty. I even mentioned it at the last Schmooze here. But since I'm unsigned, I thought it would be a great way to see what agents/editors handled what kind of material. Now I feel like some kind of peeping tom! Maybe when I get published, I'll see the new ring I've entered as some kind of gladiator's circle. For now, it's very 'grass is greener.'

And it took me about two weeks to go through all fourteen agents, and all of the writers/books of theirs I could find mentioned. Although I haven't found "the one" (is there a "the one"?) I did make some odd connections, and find some great material (like this book, "the World Without Us" which I think was an aside at Michael Stearns blog...?). But I'm sure my research skills pale in comparison to yours. You were, afterall, able to find Philip Sherrill. I never did hear back from the guy who posted my middle school yearbook photo. I'm certainly not going to write Phillip.

sexy said...