How I’ll spend the month of July

I moved to Spartanburg, South Carolina, this spring and now have settled into a comfortable routine. Disruption for the literary agency was minimal, to be honest, and I’m loving the sunshine here in the Upstate.

I’ll be reading email queries from prospective clients during the month of July 2012, and I’m enthused about the possibility of finding a talented new writer to represent. It’s relaxing to be at this juncture.

I’m an optimist and an idealist. There’s no other way to be in publishing. I’m also, I hope, a bit of a buffer between my authors and the market, like the coating on aspirin that’s meant to make it gentler on the stomach. My pragmatism has been acquired with age.

I advise my clients what to expect during the process of getting a book published, so they aren’t quite as stressed by the relentlessness of the publishing assembly line or the challenges of book promotion. Occasionally, I’ve helped them to develop the technological expertise they need.

Some qualities, however, aren’t teachable. When I look at queries from writers, I’m not searching for the individual who’s a blank slate waiting to be transformed into a celebrity author. It doesn’t work that way. When I pore over the biographical data and manuscript excerpts and the relevant material a particular writer has made available in an online portfolio, I’m reading between the lines. I’m trying to eliminate the cynic, the narcissist, the bigot, the paranoid, the slacker. There are profitable media outlets for those kinds of writers, but they’re not the individuals I want as clients.

People expose themselves when they write, no matter what they write and regardless of how much care they take to present themselves as they would like to be perceived. The sensation of a person’s inner character is the vibe that alerts me, and it’s risky to disregard my instinctive reaction to it. I don’t need to waste the time, and I’ve learned not to.

I have brilliant clients—insightful, intelligent, energetic, fearless, and good-natured—as their publishers also would tell you. That’s a lot for me and any new clients to live up to.

Now, if you’ve noticed an intriguing writer whose work you believe I should consider, send me a private email message. Let’s see what happens in July…

5 Replies to “How I’ll spend the month of July”

  1. Welcome to South Carolina! I live in Chapin, but have visited the Greenville/Spartanburg area many times. Have you been to the Beacon yet for lunch?

  2. Thanks, Laura. It’s good to be here. I was tempted to head in your direction last month for the South Carolina Book Festival, but I had just returned from a long road trip. Maybe next year.

    The Beacon seems to be the place to go for an overdose of fried food. I’m not sure I want to brave it alone, but I might take a dare and go for lunch there with some friends one day. It’s almost obligatory, isn’t it?

  3. This is something I have struggled to come to terms with, and yes, dammit, I am dangling that participle.

    On my first years on the internet I made a point of being a mysterious force with no cultural background, a sort of human chameleon. It’s perfectly acceptable on the interwebs, where nobody knows if you are dog. I connected a bunch of stuff that made no coherent sense.

    I’ve switched to a new paradigm where I have things to say on different subjects, stored on different places. It would take work to bind them together. Child’s play for true friends or the NSA, but rather more difficult for data-mining companies.

    Your job, as an editor and representative is to either call out people like myself as frauds, or to recognize the work that goes into splitting believable personalities. If a couple of clients end up committed, well it happens…

    — post original —
    People expose themselves when they write, no matter what they write and regardless of how much care they take to present themselves as they would like to be perceived. The sensation of a person’s inner character is the vibe that alerts me, and it’s risky to disregard my instinctive reaction to it. I don’t need to waste the time, and I’ve learned not to.

  4. Well, I don’t need to call anyone out, fortunately. I can refer obliquely to certain types when I write a blogpost, and it’s simple enough to choose not to do business with them when I observe those qualities.

    Frauds weren’t included in the types I mentioned, but you could infer that I’d try to avoid bothering with anyone whose credentials couldn’t be verified. When their writing samples were appealing, I’ve confronted prospective clients who contacted me using pseudonyms (bad idea) or who had no online presence at all. The latter situation is an indicator that too much remedial work remains to be done. I receive queries from people who aren’t genuinely interested in working with me but are merely gathering intelligence to take back to their confederates. Plenty of impatient writers avoid mentioning in their queries that they’ve already self-published their books. I could go on and on.

    So, what is Mike? I think that’s what you’re getting at. I suppose you’re someone who needs more of, or a different kind of, an intellectual and creative challenge than your former job required. I don’t know about the new job yet, but maybe it’ll capitalize on other qualities and bring those to the forefront of the online identity you share here.

    You’re not the only person I know (loosely defined) who thinks people are harsh judges of each other’s tastes and comments, or even of the friends and associates visible in their networks. If you’re sensitive to being judged, then you need to protect yourself from scrutiny. Until you’ve experienced it, however, you can’t know that people are also very compassionate. Misery loves company and all that. When you let your guard down, an enormous group of people seems to step forward to embrace your eccentricities while the haters take a step away.

    Now, does that mean I think everyone should let it all hang out online? Heck no. It’s a good idea to consider all of the potential effects of what you share publicly. Circumspection is a good thing. The internet will not forget what you put out there. You need to be ready to own it.

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