The all important face-to-face

When my literary agent first came out of her office to greet me in New York yesterday, my first thought was how much she reminds me of my daughter. Roughly the same height and build, the dancer neck, the fresh face, Jane Austen hair pulled back in a ballerina bun. It makes me a little nervous, I must confess, that she is actually closer to my daughter's age than she is to mine. I chose her over an older, wiser, and far more accomplished agent because I loved how smart and unjaded she is. I don't agree with everything she says, and we're a bit of an odd couple. She's very reserved, and I'm very...not.

I had high hopes and deep fears about this alliance before I met her, and that hasn't changed. We were on the same page with 90% of her comments on the manuscript in play, but I left the meeting not feeling great about it.

We exchanged several emails today, however, and now my high hopes are higher than my deep fears are deep. The tone of our conversation has changed. I feel a lot more free to plainly speak because I feel like I know this person now. She seems more open and relaxed as well having seen up close and in person that I'm not a raving lunatic or a basket case (I heard that!) or grossly nonfunctional in some way.

Most of my working relationships -- and Colleen's too -- are with people we seldom if ever see face to face. It's the nature of the beast for authors who don't live in New York, where the vast majority of the biz takes place. Cyber officing is fantastic, but it's important to make the effort, make the time, make the trip to meet people in person. Put a voice to the email and a face to the phone caller. See what else is on this person's desk. What's outside her window. Who's down the hall. I have a better understanding of what she's up against every day and how I fit into her to do list. On the flip side, I hope she'll know when I'm joking even if I don't follow up with a smiley face emoticon. Hopefully now that we've gotten to know each other a little, the love and the money will be forthcoming.


I totally agree that there's nothing like a face to face with an agent or an editor. It's wonderful, too, meeting sales directors, publicists, art designers, reps... all the people who make so much difference in our books' success or failure. For me, the face to face has made the whole process less scary. Like you, I've found it easier to pick up the phone or dash off an e-mail since then.

I need to save up some boxtops or something to make another trip. :)

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