Blogger: Wendy Lawton
A couple weeks ago I was reading comments on Rachelle Gardner’s Blog, 13 Things You May Not Know about Agents and came across a comment by Stephanie M. that said, “What you might not know about writers: We’re secretly jealous of your other clients, particularly the ones who are doing well and earning so much of your hard-earned praise.” She ended with a smiley face so I know the comment was at least partially tongue-in-cheek but it had a ring of truth to it.
Last week I posted a blog about the number of clients an agent may represent. Some comments expressed surprise at the number. Without context it could seem that even when you get an agent you are just one of scores of writers for that agent. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s talk about those “earning so much of [our] hard-earned praise.”
I grew up in a very large family. The core was my mother and father (until my dad died while I was in high school), three children by birth and four by adoption. But we were also a foster home. By the time my mother “retired” from parenting, we’d had over fifty foster sibs—mostly pre-adopt babies. You might think we’d have all gotten lost in the pack. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each one of us secretly believed we were the favorite. There’ve been times we jokingly argued the point with each one having good evidence that he or she was the golden child. (Of course, regardless of what my sibs might mistakenly believe, I was the hands-down favorite.)
What my parents did was to value each child’s uniqueness and to communicate that often. They worked hard to have a one-on-one relationship with each of us, so that we all had affirmations and memories that were ours alone. Each of us had a relationship that none of the others shared.
I’m not saying being an agent is like being a parent—that’s condescending and does not reflect the professional aspect—but when we talk about favorites among clients, it’s much like my parents’ favorites.
When I’m teaching about marketing I may cite one client over and over as a perfect example. Does that mean that client is a favorite? In that particular instance, yes. I may know that no one does it better. But if I’m talking about owning a category, say, I will bring up a different client altogether. My favorite? Yes, especially for that. Or writing skill. Or ability to connect with readers. Or knowledge of subject matter. Or. . .
I could go through my entire list and tell you why each is my favorite client. Some it is for what they do, others it is for who they are. As agents our list is hand-picked with much deliberation. Out of all the writers we could have chosen, these are our favorites. So Stephanie M. needn’t have worried. I’m guessing she’s her agent’s favorite client.
Here’s what I wish: I wish I could communicate those distinctions to my clients as well as my parents did. I know I’m not as good at affirmations in the rush of business. As a whole, we don’t encourage each other enough.
Writing with the goal of publication can be such an ego-bruising endeavor. What are those things that affirm you? Contest wins? An encouraging word from a professional at a writer’s conference? Your critique partners? Where is it that you find that “golden child” affirmation?