Busy, Busy

Wendy Lawton

Blogger: the ever busy Wendy Lawton

In case you missed it, this was Janet Grant’s announcement for the new year:

And now, for my bit of news concerning our blog. After long discussions among the Books & Such agents, we’ve decided to spend less time writing posts and more time working on behalf of our clients. We love helping writers succeed in creating their very best manuscripts and venturing into the complex world of publishing. That hasn’t changed. We’re not abandoning the blog nor our desire to continue helping everyone who aspires to write a book; we’re just reducing our time commitment. The plan is for new posts to appear twice per week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We’ll follow our same order of appearance, with me leading off and then followed by Wendy, Rachelle, Cynthia, and Rachel. So look for Wendy’s post this Thursday; we’ll see you then.

So here is my first post of 2018. . . especially as I’m starting the new year with a desk piled high with projects, notes and a to-do list to end all to-do lists.

I had a phone meeting recently with a client. She said, “I hate to bother you. You seem so busy.” Hmmmm. A while ago my brother called me up short on the same subject. He said I should stop talking on social media about how busy I am. “It makes you seem inaccessible to people,” he said.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about those comments. Should I be crafting a more accessible persona on social media? Should I keep from sharing those frenetic days that are part of this business? Are my clients seeing me as too busy for them?dreamstime_xs_42337217

Here’s where I landed. I’m already uncomfortable with carefully crafted online personas. I don’t want to be a Facebook fiction creator. True, I’ll never be an over-sharer but I think we need to be honest in all we say. So if I have a crazy-busy day I’m going to say I had a crazy-busy day. Or say nothing.

But, am I too busy for people? Never! Much of my busyness is talking to editors, publishers and clients– people.  To me people are a high priority. As I told my client, never hesitate to call or email. I’m never too busy for my clients. If I have scheduled meetings or am out of the office, we’ll set up a time to talk.

I’ll take it a step further. If your agent isn’t busy, you have the wrong agent. The nature of our business is to be engaged. We should be talking to our colleagues, keeping up with the industry, touching base with editors, publicists and publishers. We can’t do a good job for you unless we are out there on your behalf. Juggling projects, checking on submissions, preparing proposals, doing contracts, advising clients– it’s all part of this crazy-wonderful job.

When you see that your agent is crazy-busy don’t assume that he’s too busy for you. He’s crazy-busy on your behalf and that’s a good thing. But chances are, an interruption from you will be a delightful break in his busy day.

Your turn. When you see us moan about the workload, do you see that as a healthy thing or an off-putting thing? Would you rather have an agent who posts lots of hammock photos or one who seems to be paddling as fast as he can? Why is busy good? How about you? Is your life any less crazy-busy?

Let me say it again–  If your agent isn’t busy, you have the wrong agent.

And I might add, if my clients aren’t busy I may have the wrong clients. 🙂 How about you? Busy much?

35 Responses

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  1. I used to be that; busy, and my time always accounted for. I was really good at talking through two phones at once. “If you want something done give it to a busy man” was my mantra, and my tragedy.
    * From the place I now inhabit it was all a waste, an ego-prop, a pretension. The only memories that matter, the only places I can go that bring joy, were those that had been cut adrift and bobbed on a sun-flecked sea, in the wake of my ambition. The days spent throwing a ball for a dog I know I will meet again, or drinking a Coke under the wing of a busted aeroplane (my bad!) whilst a rigger performed desultory work on it…these are what define the scope of my past, and these are the memories that I will take with me into God’s Presence.

  2. Hilary Cobb says:

    Discussing busyness is not a problem for me at all. It gets me excited because it’s clear that you guys work really hard for your clients. You’re busy looking at new authors, manuscripts, and working diligently with the authors that you represent!

    It only bugs me when people start to complain about how busy they are. I’ve had friends and coworkers over the years to gripe constantly about busy they are, and are so negative about it. I start wondering what they’re doing that makes them so busy, and if they really are enjoying themselves. But I think all of us are entitled to talking about our busyness occasionally without it being a bad thing.

  3. "Mac" MacCullough says:

    Crazy-busy beats sitting on your thumbs.

  4. Hannah Davis says:

    I’m going to miss the regular daily posts, but I completely applaud this move! I love that everyone at Books and Such puts in so much effort, not only for their clients, but helping unpublished authors in their efforts as well!
    I am lying awake at 2:30, letting new scene ideas percolate while trying to fall asleep (Which shouldn’t be this hard after a 12-hour workday), so I understand the irony of the situation…yet I am reminded that in my life I am aiming for balance. A work-writing-enjoyment-people-ministry-Home life balance. It’s a battle every day.
    If, God-willing, I get an agent someday, I would hope that I feel able to maintain a similar balance, and I think I would feel constantly under great pressure to always be working.

    Now, I truly appreciate a strong work ethic. And though there are seasons of high stress and deadlines, I am aiming for those to simply be seasons and not every day life. I hope this leads you to help find a balance, too!

    In truth, hearing about how somebody is busy does make me think twice about picking up the phone. As a journalist, I’ve had to learn not to care, but my first instinct outside of my job is still not to bother someone if they’re too busy.

    Love the decision, B&S!

  5. In a previous position, I said, “Being interrupted is my job description.” And I loved it. The vast variety of humans marching though my door energized me. Now my interactions are fewer and more deliberate. But I strive to pass out smiles and words of encouragement along with my data and spreadsheets. The persona I want to leave is the fragrance of Christ–busy but approachable, more concerned about people than the to-do list. There’s a lot of that sweet fragrance here between the lines of this blog. Bless you all!

  6. Nicholas says:

    Who wouldn’t rather have a busy agent than idle one?! But through an agents use of social media I, as a hopeful potential client, can get to know a little more about them. What stories they like, are they fun or serious, do they seem to be the sort of person I could get along with? These are helpful things to know when choosing agents to submit to, but if they are spending so much time sharing, are they doing much ‘agenting’? It seems to be a bit of a dilemma and I,for one, certainly don’t have the answer!

  7. Carol Ashby says:

    Too much to do in too few hours– is that a blessing or a curse? It can keep us distracted by the routine, or it can focus us on the important things that truly ought to be done. How can we accomplish the long-term important when the short-term “urgent” keeps sucking up most of our time? And how do we keep from staying so busy with tasks that we fail to respond to a person who needs us for more than the things we can get done?

    • Carol, I think you’ve hit a vital point, and one for which Christ had an answer – twice. Both the illustration of the lilies of the field and His gentle rebuke of Martha speak to the perils of the busy life.
      * Not to say that we don’t have to perform vital tasks, but we…or I, certainly…often elevate desire to virtuous necessity. There really isn’t a way to be busy and to be ‘there’ for others, because busy-ness is at its heart self-centeredness (Martha’s fault was not a desire to serve, but a desire to boost self-image). It’s pride’s alluring doppelganger, which in the end is a barrier between us and God.

  8. I understand that blogging can be a real “time-suck,” excuse the expression. I still try to keep up with the blog and the social media posts of the agents and clients, but sometimes it’s a challenge. The dance seems to be getting faster, and fewer people are invited, so I appreciate the efforts you all put into getting us asked. Thanks.

  9. Ruth says:

    I do find it off-putting to hear how busy someone is and am hesitant to reach out. Putting the onus on the customer isn’t fair and some would argue isn’t professional. I would rather heard about someone being “hardworking.” I appreciate the earlier comment about Martha and Mary with the point being we can be harried. In the end it comes down to word choice and if those words repel or draw others in. When someone “complaints” they are busy then saying they are open to interruptions and always available to their clients is a mixed message.

  10. One thing I love about Books and Such is how you are so honest and real about things. Writing a blog post every day, especially when they are as helpful and thoughtful as yours are, can be very time consuming. So the change is totally understandable.
    Actually, I often feel horrible because I know great info is going up here every day, but I honestly don’t have the time to get on and keep up every day. Twice a week is more manageable for me too. 🙂

    I think Ruth has a great point. It’s good to be honest and talk about how busy I am, but I need to be careful to portray it in a grateful and positive light. There’s already enough negative out there. And I don’t want to push people away, because they are the reason I am doing what I’m doing anyway.

    Happy New Year to all you wonderful Books and Such folks!

  11. Good thoughts, dear Wendy.
    Yes, I’d rather hear an agent is busy than see “lots of hammock photos” on her Facebook. And as writers we’re to be busy about producing manuscripts, busy about platform etc, and busy about the Father’s work too. If we’re too busy to hear God’s nudges to help someone with a real life problem–we have a problem.
    Someone asked me if I was sure I had the time to do what I was doing for her. I said yes because the older I get, the more I recognize what I will regret not doing when my final breath is breathed.
    Am I busy?–yes. Am I bothered by it?–I’m blessed.
    Blessings for 2018 ~ Wendy Mac

  12. And, I am here a day late, I’m pretty sure. 🙂 Life has been very busy for us. Just because we had a Christmas break, life didn’t slow down much. But I am looking forward to finding a new sort of normal beginning next week. A normal that will (I hope!) include more intentional writing time and less scurrying-about time.
    *I love what you said about not being too busy for your clients. It’s good to know that an agent WANTS to hear from his/her clients. 🙂 thanks for clarifying this, Wendy.

  13. Thanks for sharing, Wendy! I’m inspired by the Books & Such team, both your productivity and your wisdom in knowing where to cut back. One thing I think the Lord wants me to learn in this new year is where to let go and say “no” in order to be able to focus on what He wants to be most important in my life right now. And yes, I believe that includes writing. 🙂 But saying “no” and cutting back is never easy to do in this frenetic world–so bravo to you!

    I will continue to love following the Tuesday and Thursday blogs–you all always bring so much wisdom and insight, and even fun along the way.

    Blessings to all.

  14. Thank you for all you do. If not for agents like you I could never have read the hundreds of books that have inspired, informed, and entertained me for years. You’ll never know this side of Heaven how many lives have been changed because of the books you’ve helped get published. Not only the lives of readers, but the other people they’ve influenced as a result of reading the books, and the lives of the authors, too. We all owe you a big “Thank You.”

  15. Penelope A Childers says:

    I found this blog uplifting. Uplifting because of the honesty of it. In my other career, I was always busy out of my mind. The truth is I still am. However I was never to busy for family, friends, employees or clients, people. The positive results always speak for themselves. I agree you want an agent or client who is busy, but it’s good to know that you are acessible. I always knew you were. Thank you for the encouragement.

  16. Wanda Rosseland says:

    I’ve wondered how you all could do the blog every week, Wendy, so to scale back seems very smart and logical to me. Hopefully it will give you time you need, to do the work of your business as well as all of the peripheral matters which demand your attention. It’s the right move. As far as social media goes and the “busy” of your life, are we now supposed to invent a new life for Facebook, Twitter, or whatever program others can use to check in on us? Like, “I’m just sitting here under the palm tree–why not, let’s make it Hawaii, for the next four days while I study the waves upon the sea and analyze their movements. Something I’ll never use in my real life of course but they are so mesmerizing and relaxing and I don’t have one other thing to do now.” Nope. Don’t think so. You go ahead and tell anyone you want to how the pile is falling over on your desk and the emails are driving you crazy and you’ve got ten publishers waiting to hear back from you and man-a-living, if there was only some way you could get supper cooked without the phone ringing. Tell your brother I’m sorry, but your life is what it is, and we understand. Dear God, please give Wendy more time in her day by making every decision quick and easy, let her reading become fast and accurate as she goes over legal papers, manuscripts, proposals and those blessed contracts. Give her quiet nerves, wide eyes and immediate understanding as to what needs to be done first. Have every job go smooth as silk, without one word of disagreement between author, publisher, agent so that she can tie up the deals in half the time it normally takes. Thank you very much. Amen

  17. Part of being busy is recognizing what is necessary and what is not. While I will miss checking in every day, I love to see you guys evaluating priorities and choosing to focus on the other more critical aspects of your jobs. It shows wisdom and discernment, all things I expect from a good agent, or leader of any kind. Thank you for being a role model in that aspect. Seeing someone who is busy doesn’t make them unapproachable unless they have filled their time so completely that the “things” become more important than the people. Scheduling time to meet and talk is perfectly acceptable. Thank you, Wendy, Rachelle, Janet, Rachel, and Cynthia for being examples is choosing what is best over what is good.

    • Mary Kay Moody says:

      Ditto. Seriously, you shared my thoughts as well, Crystal. Thank you and THANKS Janet, Wendy, Rachelle, Rachel, Cynthia, and Michelle. Happy New Year

  18. Yeah … . We’ve had camps going all for almost every day of Christmas break and while most are rental groups and require less TLC then a camp that we staff and run the program for ourselves, yep, we’re busy. Add our three sons, 90lb dog, pet chickens, and some writing time and an attempt at housework the day fills up fast. I like to see the way that agents fill their days. It is interesting. It does help me write short emails, though. And if I get a helpful rejection, I send a thank you note. But if the agent sends a thank you for the thank you note back. I no longer send a thank you for the thank you for the thank you … Which is probably good. If I get a chance to converse with an agent, I try to keep things short to the point, but if I’m invited to send something, I still do it. Even though everyone is so buys. Does that make sense???

  19. I’ve long been saying the only thing worse than too much to do is not enough. Although here lately I might give it a try . . .

  20. At a real estate seminar, I was told something similar: stating you are busy discourages referrals because they think a) you don’t need the business or b) you don’t have time for more clients. It definitely made me think about how often I say I am busy to people. It’s also one of the reasons I changed my blog from A Busy Mom’s Daily to An Imperfect Christian Mom.

    That said, I am flat out and I’m working on creating a better balance.

    Instead of thinking an agent is moaning about her workload, I consider it great that she is in such high demand. That’s who I want working for me, because she has built great relationships that keep people working with her.

  21. Etta Wilson says:

    Well put! I often wondered how agents had time to blog every day, but now as a writer I love reading those words of yours.

  22. Yeah, I’m busy
    Because I could not stop for Death,
    he kindly stopped for me;
    and then drove on with intaken breath,
    facing my Glock 23.

    He wanted to offer the boon of rest
    my labours now complete;
    but blood I shed, merely a test
    to show I won’t retreat

    The mission remains, now blinding-clear
    to attend to tasks undone,
    to face hell’s fire with no fear
    and outrace the setting sun.

    The heavenly multitudes wish I’d quit,
    they ache at cheering the dying.
    But work remains and I’m still fit
    to kill myself in the trying.

  23. Dana McNeely says:

    I think you all made the right choice to step back from the everyday posts. I enjoy this blog and find it helpful. Yet I wasn’t reading it every day, nor posting responses every time I did read–because I was busy. 🙂 We all need to cut back from time to time, even on activities we enjoy or find helpful, to make time for other things that are a little higher on our priority list. Not to mention the wildfires you all had to deal with lately!

  24. I love how are brothers can speak truth to us. I also have sons and a husband who speak truth. It’s good to have men in our lives to hold us accountable in loving ways.

    Too busy? I don’t want to ever be too busy for God or my family. Thanks for sharing, Wendy!