Conversations with Agents

Actually, this is a post more for agents than writers. I know that there are a few of you out there reading this. This post really is about agent etiquette when meeting authors. I don’t mean any old author that you’ve never met, or an author that’s sent you a query that you’ve rejected. Rather, I’m curious about your interactions with authors from whom you’ve requested partials or fulls.

Say you’re at a convention. An author stops up to thank you for considering their work.

At Wiscon, in the course of two years, I’ve had three encounters with agents who have requested partials and fulls of my manuscript (two fulls).

One agent looked at me vaguely, didn’t know who I was, and I quickly said thanks and good bye. I felt like I’d confused her. She’d had a full of my book.

One agent was very busy entertaining her friends, and took my brief thank you, I think as an invasion, even though I had been very polite. I don’t think she knew me. She’d had a partial.

The final agent found me via my name tag, and instigated a very hearty conversation with me, apologizing for having my book so long, and being both complimentary, but critically helpful. She talked about the agent business quite a bit. I tried to be human, she was human. It worked out. She instigated the conversation. That impressed me. She still has a full.

I understand that you get so many manuscripts you can’t remember everyone. I teach maybe 80 students a semester, and I can’t remember most of their names a year later. I have the advantage of faces with my names to boot.

Here’s the crux: Is it common for an agent who has requested more material from you to not recognize your name? How about the full manuscript? What is the professional etiquette?

I have to tell you, as a possible client, I’m very impressed by politeness in agent communication, regardless of whether an agent has asked for my work or not. I’m surprised that agents who requested partials from a client wouldn’t know them. If I were considering hiring someone, I’d probably remember their name.

Publishing is an unusual world, where things happen in terms of epochs. It took me a while to understand that part of the culture. I’m out to understand other parts as well.

What should be the behavior of an agent in the wild in regard to people whose work they’ve solicited? In your humble opinion?

And writers, what have your experiences been?

Curious in Iowa

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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