How to Make an Agent Squirm

Wendy Lawton

Blogger: Wendy Lawton

 

Want to know how to make a CBA literary agent squirm? Wait until he or she is on a panel at a popular writing conference and ask, “What’s the best book you’ve read recently?” Surely that can’t be cringeworthy, can it?

You have no idea!  Let me tell you why. . .

If the fabulous book that comes to mind is one of your clients’ books and you are brave enough to cop to it:

  • Your other clients in the audience will wish you loved them best.
  • You’ll look like you are shamelessly promoting your own client and by connection, your agency.
  • Few will believe you anyway. “You really like CBA historical fiction over all other ‘fine’ books?”
  • There’s no winning with this one, even if it’s true. Watch the agent squirm.

If you happen to be reading another CBA author’s work, agented by one of your colleagues:

  • Your colleagues on the panel will think you are willing to poach their clients by flattery.
  • Your clients in the audience will wish you loved them best. After all, they are with you and your agency. Where is your loyalty?
  • Few will believe you anyway, wondering why your tastes are so “common.”
  • There’s no winning with this one, even if it’s true. Watch the agent squirm.

If you try to stay out of the fray by saying something like, “I’ve mostly been reading manuscripts by potential clients and I’ve been amazed at how good some of them are.”

  • Your clients in the audience will wonder why you are trolling for new clients when they’ve been waiting more than a month for feedback on their newest proposal.
  • The other agents on the panel will snicker, thinking, “Yeah, right.”
  • There’s no winning with this one, even if it’s true. Watch the agent squirm.

You do what most CBA agents do and name a well-lauded ABA literary read that everyone on PBS loves. You’d figure that would be safe, right? Nope. You’d be figuring wrong.

  • We agents have all gotten the odd concern from our clients at one time or another, “I feel betrayed that when you are asked for your favorite book it’s always an ABA book. Don’t you even read in the CBA?”
  • Bestselling core CBA writers will conclude you are too highbrow for them.
  • Your colleagues will know exactly what you are up to. *smirk*
  • Trust me, there’s no winning with this one either. And once again you can watch the agent squirm.

How about you? When you are surrounded by writing friends and someone asks you your favorite recent read, do you ever squirm? Are you brave enough to tell us what book you’ve loved recently?

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