Blogger: Wendy Lawton
I’m currently on the road, finishing up an almost two-week long book tour with Lauraine Snelling. I thought it would be fitting to rewrite a blog post from a few years ago because we need this important reminder. It’s about the agent’s heart. Jokes abound about the heartlessness of agents, but the truth is that when all is said and done, John Q. Agent will not be judged on how well he handled the paperwork, how many books he sold, or even how much money he managed to make for his clients. On that day, the heavenly Father will want to know one thing, “Did you love my people?”
The philosophy is best summed up in 1st Corinthians 13 (The Message):
1 If I pitch projects with enthusiasm and eloquence but don’t love, I’m nothing but blah, blah, blah. (Okay, that’s my paraphrase) 2If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. 3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Here’s the philosophy in a nutshell:
- Love never gives up.
- Love cares more for others than for self.
- Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
- Love doesn’t strut,
- Doesn’t have a swelled head,
- Doesn’t force itself on others,
- Isn’t always “me first,”
- Doesn’t fly off the handle,
- Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
- Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
- Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
- Puts up with anything,
- Trusts God always,
- Always looks for the best,
- Never looks back,
- But keeps going to the end.
What it comes down to is this: In the eternal scope of things it doesn’t matter how talented John Q. Agent is in negotiating contracts or protecting his clients’ rights (although those things are important). We are called to be servants. No strutting. No swelled heads. We can’t celebrate when we bring someone to his knees during negotiations. It isn’t always “me first.” Prima donnas need not apply. This philosophy will be our John Q’s secret weapon.
It’s an important reminder for all of us.
How about you as a writer? How important is the heart element in your writing and your dealings with those in the industry?
If I write a best-selling book but have not love, I gain nothing.
I want to be a reflection of my God, who has an eternal best-selling book. His book is the story of love. He is the Author of love. He is love.
Wendy, you precious soul. If we can get the message of the good steward, be it as writers, agents or publishers, we will have something of God’s heart. His value is reflected in the way similar truth was carried to us through the ages by souls who wrote with fearless passion, took great risks, hid their writings in caves or burnt at the stake to get the message through. The least we can do is serve with the same spirit. I love you for this post – wish I could say more.
I accept that an agent also stewards stakeholder value, so it is fair that they mediate the writing process with diligence, as long as their raison d’etre is to steward it for the glory of God and the furtherance of His eternal, not our temporal, kingdom. It is, to my mind, even more vital that writers steward every word, nuance and essence of what God gives us, for His glory, not our personal ambitions. Wendy (we have a friend of same name and surname Lawson), I deeply value your post today and feel an emotional identity with what to me goes to the heart of our shared faith. As Paul said, “we have one God, one Lord, one faith” — and we are in it together.
Love is the only legacy worth leaving, and the only treasure I can carry forward into God’s presence.
Love this blog. It’s true, “the greatest of these is love.” Thanks so much for posting and reminding me.
Kristen Joy Wilks
I’m realizing more and more how important the heart of an agent is. I’ve been pitching novels to agents (and editors) for eight years now. I don’t have an agent although I’ve managed to sell two novellas to an awesome small press. I’ve met a lot of agents in those years and I see myself getting pickier. I used to want an agent, any agent, who could sell my books and was nice. Now I’m thinking about things like vision and writing philosophy. Are we called in the same direction? Do we see story and wordsmithing in a similar light? I am finding myself becoming more patient and realizing that if the Lord wants me to find an agent, He will lead me to a wonderful one, the right one for me. I can trust Him in this. Just look at all of the tough competition He has brought my way to help me not to sign on with any old agent! God is good.
Kirsten, in simple terms, it is as beholden of us to steward our works through partners that share our heartbeat as it is for agents to resonate with their writers. That puts relationship before function.
Kristen, I so admire your diligence and continued trust in the Lord’s timing.
Amen, Wendy! Definitely true for writers as well. Thank you for posting during your busy travel season, and thanks for sharing photos on FB. I’ve enjoyed keeping up with the tour.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
Whether I like it or not, and no matter what, everyone knows exactly what I’m thinking. I can’t lie, I can’t even try to lie, because I blush like I’ve been spraying with red paint.
So, what you see is what you get.
UNLESS I’m in an intense situation (border security, airport security, visiting with’ my SILs, the ER with my kids) then I become a master of calm behaviour. It’s basically freaky how calm I am.
The thing is, I can sort of control how I behave when I need to. Fine. Not “sort of”. I can.
I also know that whoever I meet on any given day is probably thinking the same thing. “Help me not do or say anything truly stupid”.
If I’m going into a new environment, I always ask someone in the know what the no-no’s are. I will be doing that in September when I pitch to editors at ACFW.
People will see my heart, I know that. But I also want them to see my intent, and my drive.
As always, I carry Micah 6:8 in the forefront of what I do and what I want to say to the world. “…act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God”.
Thank you for the beautiful reminder that nothing done without love matters. Even just a drop of love in our hearts and our Savior will work with that!
Wendy L Macdonald
Wendy, I love this post. The heart of the matter is what matters most to God. We may look at the “cover” but He sees and judges the pages of the heart. And I’m learning more and more that writing, and all that goes with it, is not for the faint of heart either. So I keep asking Him to open and close the doors in the way He deems best. We may have an inkling of what an agent’s or author’s heart is like, but God knows who is best to partner up with who. He has motivations and a timeline for each of us that goes beyond a book deal. He’s authoring our life story—it’s what people tend to read the most.
Blessing ~ Wendy Mac ❀
What an encouraging blog for all of us. Thanks!
Great words about the greatest word. And by the way, my daughter grew up reading Lauraine Snelling with me. Little bit o’ envy knocking at my door right now as you travel and chat and laugh with Lauraine. But that’s not love, is it!
The heart element is huge. I’m learning to take pleasure in the flowering of another person’s truth, whether I believe it or not. It’s allowed for open communication with someone I love, even as my heart aches over their decisions.
This is practice for the times I interact with people in the publishing industry. I may not always agree with suggestions made, but I can show grace and establish myself as someone who is amiable and dependable.
The heart element is what drives my writing now. Dealing with the unthinkable (and the only thing I have in common with Patrick Swayze…well, aside from stunning good looks) I’ve been privileged to try to spread that Love, in focusing on the needs of the caregiver.
* The caregiver’s the servant, going through something far more painful than facing death. She has to live the dichotomy of intimate involvement with a life in peril, knowing that she’s going to survive, and that her place in the world, in ordinary time, so to speak, is still important. She has to accept that my death doesn’t define her, nor does it define the rest of her years.
* When we receive that kind of Love, we’re beholden to carry it in trust, to respond with love and compassion, and to let every day we are still granted be a reflection of the love we receive from this person who has allowed herself to be a channel for the unquenchable love that flows from the heart of the Almighty.
I love to memorize scripture, and usually do it by chapters or books. I had just finished James when I took on I John, and I expected an easier process. But God kept stopping me. He wouldn’t let me put the book in my head without processing it, sometimes painfully, through my heart. It changed everything. It seems now, regardless of the chapter or book that I am memorizing, it is through the filter of I John. I fall so short of God’s calling to love, but it is the highest calling and cannot be ignored.
Janet Ann Collins
Wendy, this blog lets the love of all the Books & Such agents shine through. Thank you for all the helpful information you post here.
I hope one someone talks about my work they say love and kindness are key elements.
I want to be a funnel for God. I don’t care if I’m an old worn out funnel as long as God’s love can flow through me to others. I hope to share God’s love to readers through my stories one day. Until then, I’ll share God’s love to others any way He sees fit. I need to keep my eyes open and be willing to be used by Him.
Thanks for this beautiful post, Wendy!
Wendy, what a wonderful rendering of a familiar passage. Love is what matters most: for agent, author, and everyone. Thanks for the reminder.
In answer to your questions, Wendy.
Thank you for this wonderful treatise on How to Live.
Nicely said. Thank you for an encouraging reminder of what matters most. It’s a curious thing, the more we love God the more capacity we will have to understand love and to let love flow out of us. His traits begin to become our traits and then love becomes natural and not artificially manufactured (when we say we love but our actions show otherwise). Love is beautiful.