Friday, August 20, 2010

How NOT to Approach an Agent

by Lupe Fernandez

At the 2010 SCBWI Summer Conference, Ginger Clark, literary agent for Curtis Brown LTD, spoke at a breakout session entitled "How to Approach Agents Without Scaring Them Off." This blogger enjoyed the session. I am grateful for Ms. Clark's time. Here are some tips:
  • Don't follow an agent into the bathroom.
  • Don't follow an agent into the pool.
  • Don't follow an agent to the gym, especially if the agent is working out with another agent, and pitch your project.
  • If an agent is at a bar and engaged in conversation with another person, do not approach the agent and pitch your project.
Ms. Clark also recounted other horror stories:
After a long conference, an editor returned to her hotel room, entered her bedroom and found on her pillow - a query letter. Can you say creepy?

An agent entered a bathroom stall and commenced her business. To her horror, someone slid a manuscript under the stall door.

A surgeon visited a patient being prepped for an operation. Upon learning the the patient was a literary agent, the surgeon asked if he could pitch his book to her. The agent replied, "you're the one with the scalpel, you can do whatever you want."
After recounting these episodes, Ms. Clark addressed the assembled group and said, "I'm sure none of you would do that."

Not me, says I.

Well...almost. In the interests of disclosure, this blogger did follow a certain publisher into the Mens' Room at the conference. However, I knew the publisher from a previous function and, as he is a busy fellow, I retreated post-haste from the urological premises upon seeing the publisher approach a designated respository area.


  1. This advice also holds true when approaching a publisher. One should also avoid jumping in front of their cars

  2. Dear Susan,

    I prefer the try and true method...traveling back in time, the meet agent as a child, become their best friend, wait 20 years and presto!

    Chronologically Challenged

  3. It's hard to believe, but I've actually seen people at writers' conferences doing some of those things with agents and editors. I doubt that such rudeness does much to increase their chances.

  4. Dear Janet,

    As a shy person, I must muster up the courage to swim through the swarm of fortune seekers at the end of an editor's or agent's talk. I usually say hello and thank them for their time. I don't ask for anything...okay there was that one time, but she was really cute.

    Modest Modifier

  5. I can't believe anyone would go to those lengths to talk to an agent. Whatever happened to manners and good sense?

  6. Dear Nancy,

    So offering myself for a deal is out of the question? Of course. I knew that. Just kidding. HAH, Hah, hah....ha.

    Guess I won't be needing that $500 cologne.

    Mild Mannered

  7. 很喜歡你的部落格,來給你加油,幫你推一下喔~期待你的下一個更新,謝謝................................................

  8. Yes, it's really hard to believe these things actually happen. But, when I volunteered at a conference, we had one person try to spin us a story about how an agent had asked her to call on his cell and did we have the number? No!

  9. Dear Ms. Lori,

    Hmmm...the old "Ask For the Agent's Cell Number" routine. Maybe I'll volunteer to be a Secret Service type agent for agents, editors and publishers attending a conference. I'll throw myself in the way of a speeding attendee.

    Agent X

  10. Amazing what people will do! Sounds like agents could use bodyguards (or Secret Service agent like you suggested).

  11. Dear Connie,

    Glad you agree. Of course, such a AEP* Escort would have be of the highest moral caliber in order to resist monetary manipulations, temptations of the flesh, and substance subsidiaries.

    Mr. Modest


  12. It's hard to believe someone would actually do these things! I know some authors feel desperate, but really. Thanks for the post!

  13. Dear Katie,
    Thanks for the comment. I'd proud to say I am not desperate enough to follow an influential person into the bathroom...oh wait, I did that.

    Hmm...I'm proud to say I am not desperate enough to walk into an editor's class at a SCWBI conference and try to talk to her. Oh wait, I did that too.

    I'll stop here.

    Desperate Seeking an Excuse

  14. Hey Stalker...I mean Lupe,
    great post! I sat through that informative session too...and thanked my stars I'm not a surgeon.

    Great seeing you at the conference where I coudn't help following you following that influential someone into the bathroom. You guys were going to the men's loo that had been appropriated for women. Someone had to warn you.

  15. Rilla,

    I'm trust you'll swear on a stack of Dove Bars that you will not reveal the identify of said renowned personage. I wouldn't want to besmirch the reputation of that notable luminary in the YA firmament by any association with me.



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