Twitter, Agents & Expectations

1 Jun

Look, ma! Two posts today!

If you follow me on twitter (@BriaQuinlan) you know sometimes I’ll sneak on there with conversations started in other places.

Last night during my weekly buddy check-in we got to talking a little about searching for agents and the whole agency-V-agent thing.

My agency (and my agent) are awesome. Completely, totally awesome. You should know that up front.

But, you should also know that we’re a growing agency. That Lauren is actively growing her list. She’s picky. It grows slowly. We’re small (but big in heart and personality and talent – I’m a lucky girl to be in there!) We’re on twitter. We tease. We bicker (ok, that’s really just teasing too.) We write fake books (wait, that’s teasing too)… anyway. We’re that agency on twitter.

We’re the Team Agency. I even jokingly started calling Lauren ‘The Laird’ and ‘The Macleod’ — I refer to the agency as The Clan Macleod…

Now, I know what this is like from the other side. I’ve been in an agency where I don’t have that connection with the group (or my agent) on a public social media.

Was it bad? No.

Is this more fun? Yes.

But, is it more than just more fun? I don’t know.

I don’t know because I know that it’s part of an entire package.

I know that Lauren always has my back. That I won’t sit wondering about anything. That if she has an idea, she’ll shoot it at me. That if I email her crazy talk in the middle of the night she’ll (the next morning when sane people wake up) decode it and write me back. I know that we’re on the same page with my writing and career. I know that when I ask her questions she’ll answer them honestly. I know that she’s the business brain of this partnership, but that I’m not only allowed to have input, but it’s expected. I know she gets my books and my writing and me. That she knows the market. That she works hard and expects us to as well.

That twitter stuff, it is fun. It fits all of our personalities. Just ask poor @LizzieFriend who we sucked in before she’d even gotten a chance to formally announce her membership… I mean signing.

BUT, here’s where my questions were leading: Do people judge an agency by this? Do they judge an agent by this? Is twitter (and other social media) setting a bad expectation for unagented writers looking for an agent?

Jennifer Laughran picked this up last night and blogged about it today over on JENNIFER REPRESENTS… Check it out. She says a lot of very interesting things.

My worry is that when you see something, you don’t know what you aren’t seeing.

There are amazing agents and agencies who aren’t twitter happy. But you can’t see that because they aren’t on twitter (or whatever social media is the hot thing for you) — if you’re doing all your research, you’ll find these agents. But often we see something over and over again (a team agency on twitter every single day) and think, OH, That’s the right/good/successful/happy way.

No. An agent is all those things I just told you Lauren is… and they have nothing to do with Twitter (shhhhh don’t tell anyone I just said that) – Here’s the thing. If you’re looking for a community find it through Twitter or RWA orLeftCoast or Critters or your local writing group. Do NOT look for it in your agency.

That is not what your agency is for.

That is like trying to pick a job based on where you think you’ll find the most dates. Um, yeah. I met that girl once. Watched the implosion. It was amusing from a safe distance, but still pretty horrible to watch.

Find an agency that is going to represent you. Find a writing group for community. Sometimes they overlap and that’s great, but always — ALWAYS — consider anything beyond a great agent representation partnership a bonus (or maybe, for extreme introverts/super-busy people/social media hatters, a negative to put up with)

So, thoughts? Do you disagree? Do agencies need to start becoming communities too? Let me know.

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11 Responses to “Twitter, Agents & Expectations”

  1. Kimberly June 1, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    I’m only one month into the querying process and as a web literate author I find it appealing when the agents I’m researching have a definite web presence. While a person’s twitter feed is not an accurate representation of who they are and what they do, there’s a certain comfort in getting a sense of a person before initiating contact.

    I recently sent a query to Lauren and while I wouldn’t say I chose to query her *because* of her twitter feed, I did so with a greater sense of confidence that she is a person I would enjoy working with.

    Also, in a world where web presence is coming to have greater and greater importance in regards to marketing, it impresses me when an agency has that awareness and develops a web presence of their own.

  2. briaq June 1, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    Congrats Kimberly on getting out there!

    I can honestly say, that several of my closest friends have agents who aren’t on twitter (one just has a submissions/client page and that’s it) who ADORE their agents and get everything they need from them.

    I wonder if the things we used to do during reference calls we do now on social media….

    You’ve got me thinking. I have a dear friend who left her agent (about 7 people just went, oh no! she’s talking about me LOL) Her agent was AWESOME online. Always looked accessible. Responded and chatted, etc. They looked from the outside like they had a great relationship – I was *shocked* when my friend left her agent. She let me know she never responded to emails, “forgot” they were going to submit something that was done (even though she’d emailed her, “great I’m sending this out monday to ” she never did… and other agent type issues.

    Needless to say, from the outside it looked great thanks to twitter.

    From the inside, not so much.

    Agent/Client relationship is kind of like a marriage. Only those on the inside know the truth.

  3. Lauram68 June 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    I love Lauren. I think you are very lucky to have her and good luck with everything. While I was in NYC I got to meet a bunch of agents, editors and publishing personnel. What an amazing bunch of people they are. Very hard working and loyal.

    I hope when I finally get my butt into gear and can write a coherent piece, I can finally query. But I will be 70 by the time that happens!

  4. briaq June 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    LOL – you won’t be 70 (unless your over 65 now!) You can do it 🙂

    But, you know what, even if you were 70, who cares! A writing life isn’t something that expires!

  5. terrio39 June 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    I read this earlier and didn’t comment, but you’ve guilted me into coming back. 🙂

    I’ve just begun the agent hunt and to me, it’s important to know if the agent is a person I want to work with. I need enthusiam for my work, support, and selling power, but I also need a personality that fits with mine. Just as I’m sure an agent does in a client.

    So I’d never base who I query on whether they have a twitter presense or clear online commmunity, but if they at least have a blog it’s nice. To get an idea of what they’re like and not just what they can do for me.

  6. briaq June 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    This is true also the opposite direction. I cut two agents off my list because of how they talked about people/writers/groups on their blogs and twitter.

    But, in a world where we don’t KNOW people from twitter (remember last weeks post everyone?) don’t let the tweets fool you 😉

    So glad I could guilt you lol

  7. terrio39 June 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    Okay, that’s true for me too. So I wouldn’t rule you out for not being online, but I might rule you out for being a personality I don’t think I could work with based on behavior/blogs online. Yep, totally agree with that.

  8. Gwen Hernandez June 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    I’m not sure how I feel about this, Bria. I like an agent who is with the times, but she/he doesn’t have to live on social media. I tend to avoid agents who only take snail mail, for example, because I’m wondering what else they’re behind the curve on.

    But bottom line for me is a good relationship with the agent. I want to find someone who gets me, likes my voice, and believes in my writing. Someone I can have a good working relationship with.

    So, I think it would be fun to have that bantering kind of relationship with my agent and those she represents on Twitter, but it’s not a deal breaker for me. And while I do use Twitter and blogs to get a sense for the person, the phone/in-person meeting would still have to go well. I’ve seen agents who sound great on Twitter, from whom I got a completely different vibe when I saw them on an agent panel.

  9. briaq June 1, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    Amen to all that Gwen!

  10. Kimberly Farris June 1, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    Agencies are already communities because they’re linked by a common goal or purpose. How social the community becomes depends on its ‘members’.

    I don’t think Twitter and other social media set false expectations for unagented writers, but show a glimpse of the agency culture. It’s like going in for an interview and looking around to see how the employees are acting. You’re trying to get a sense of what it’s like to work there. You shouldn’t base your decision to take the job soley on what you observe, but your observations are going to influence your decision.

  11. briaq June 1, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    *Nods* all true, but what so many people don’t realize is that there’s a lot they don’t see… even with the twitter-happy groups.

    I feel like with Agent #1, there was a very public look of everything I talked about with Lauren,but the truth was that it wasn’t the same at all. It’s very easy to look happy-togethery with some tweeting. It’s another thing for it to be true. No one is going to act publicly like they dont’ get on with their agent.

    I know several people commented from seeing some tweets with Agent #1 that I seemed to have a great relationship with her. She was lovely, but the relationship wasn’t anything like the one I have with Lauren – It really is like a marriage:No one knows but those on the inside AND don’t air your dirty laundry publicly.

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