Friday, December 11, 2009

Agent or Fairy Godmother? You Decide.

It is Happy Agent Day in the Blogosphere, so I'm celebrating my agent, Rosemary Stimola.  Rosemary is actually a fairy godmother in disguise.  Here are my top 5 reasons why:

#5)  With a wave of her wand, she can make emails appear in my inbox.

Recently, I was worried about not receiving some nameless information from a nameless person at a nameless company.  When I called Rosemary and relayed my concern, she first calmed me down, telling me not to worry about it.  Then she said she shared my concern that I wasn't getting any communication.  She put in a call and --ding-- I got mail.

#4) Receiving email from her is like getting a treat.

First, she has lightening-speed response time.  I have yet to wait 24 hours for a response.  Not even when she broke her ankle and warned me she might be a little slower with responses.  When I queried her, she asked for a full manuscript within nine hours. This woman knows what 'prompt reply' means.  She must have coined the term.

Second, she has her own style of emailing, which just oozes personality  Here's an example:

hey, lovely news!
am about to leave office for weekend, so will get contracts out to you on my letterhead for signature early next week!
more on subs then as well...
very pleased to have you on board!
ro stimo

#3) Her experience in the biz is reliable.

The most important aspect of the agent-writer relationship, as Andrew Karre once told me, is trust. At the time, I didn't quite understand why, but now I do.  Truth is, I'm a writer and I don't know how this industry works:  with Rosemary's help, I'm learning what is reasonable to expect from my publisher, what is important, and what I shouldn't worry about.  She's been at this for a long time now and is one of the top-sellers on Publisher's Marketplace; she knows what she's up to. That keeps years on my life and takes more off my plate.

#2.5 because it is related to #3, but a little higher up) We're in this together

When she offered to represent me, I asked to interview her, which made me a little self conscious.  But Rosemary thought it was a great idea because, as she said, the agent-writer relationship is like a marriage.  It's a long-term commitment and you need to know what you're in for.

And she does treat me like a partner in my career.  We talked about what houses to send Split to when it was just an aspiring manuscript.  After relaying her list, she asked if there was any house I wanted that wasn't on her list.  When I said yes, she included it.  She went through my contract with Knopf for Split with me word by word, and it's around 12 pages.  And explained things to me I couldn't understand (me: "remind me...what are sub rights?").

#2) Best opening line for an auction ever.

When it became official that Split would go to auction, I wasn't sure that my feet were actually on the ground.  The idea that one house wanted to publish it would have sent me to Cloud Nine.  But having more than one house interested and willing to bid on Split was like being rocketed into the stratosphere of high-hopes.  Cloud Nine was so small from way up there.

On the day of the auction for Split, she called me in the morning with the offers and said, "Are you still breathing?"
I laughed, releasing some of my jitters.  "Barely."
"Deep breaths," she said, amused.  "I can't have you pass out on me now."

Talk about setting the tone for the day:  celebratory, surreal, and business-like.

#1) She's incredibly diplomatic, knowing how to set the tone of a conversation, (see #2) and has balls of steel.

In other words, she is exactly the kind of woman I want representing me --  polite, knowledgeable, reasonable, and won't back down when she's right.  Which she usually is.

After all, what fairy godmother is in the wrong?

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