Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Location: Books & Such Central Valley, California Office
Yesterday we talked about the intellectual skills our fictional specimen, John Q. Agent, needs to be successful. Today we are going to be examining his eyes. No, we are not actually talking about an eye exam, though eyestrain from too much reading is often an occupational hazard. We’re talking about vision. Dictionary.com defines vision two ways:
vi·sion 1. The act or power of sensing with the eyes; sight. 2. the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be: prophetic vision; the vision of an entrepreneur.
Vision is one of the most important skills for an agent. We think of wide, far-ranging vision but believe it or not, sometimes John Q needs to be myopic—near-sighted. He needs to be able to focus on a single project and shut out the world. There may be a gigantic stack of manuscripts to be read and analyzed while a dozen other tasks are screaming for attention. John Q needs to be able to focus on the task at hand whether it is a proposal or a contract. A little myopia will be a good thing.
But it’s even more vital that he have the vision to see the big picture. Some of the most important work he’ll do for his clients is career planning. He needs to have a good grasp of the industry, stay current with trends, read all the futurists and follow the trade journals. He’ll want to keep up with industry professionals and editors.
He also needs to know who’s publishing what. What’s hot and what’s not. He’ll want to be familiar with cover trends and marketing initiatives. He’ll want to be well read, far beyond his clients’ work. Just last week an editor called to ask to which well-known writers I would compare my client with. PR had asked her for a reference point and she drew a blank. An agent has to be well-read enough to answer those kinds of questions.
So. . . eyesight? John Q needs both shortsightedness and the big picture.
He needs “eyes to see:”
- The Big Picture
- Future think
- What colleagues and industry professionals are doing and saying
- Who’s publishing what
- What’s on its way in and what’s on its way out
- What’s working in marketing
It can’t necessarily be taught. It’s often one of those gut things.
But think about it. Is it all that different for writers? It seems like we require some of the same kind of skills for you, right?