Sometimes writing can be a real slog. You know what needs to be done because you have the outline, but you’re feeling your way along or think there’s something missing, or what have you. Sometimes you’re wrong and your test readers tell you you’ve just revised it too many times and lost touch with it.
But sometimes you learn that maybe that one astute beta reader was right about something not quite working in a scene or chapter. Recently my editor was looking over book 1 and discovered some issues in the third act that left me scratching my head. I got to thinking he was right and wondering why didn’t I pay attention to the observations of that clever lady I live with.
There were two or three problems that really left me feeling stuck in a box. And then I spoke to my agent, Bob Mecoy, and he improvised the way out of every single one of them. Brilliantly.
I read people giving advice about agents. Some write that they don’t need them, saying that they can negotiate their own contracts and handle their own business. Maybe they’re skilled enough, or have taught themselves enough, that they’re right. I don’t want to learn the business side anymore than necessary to understand my contracts, though, and I’m lucky enough to have someone who’s had years of experience not with that aspect of it, but other business matters as well.
Bob doesn’t just know the industry’s business side. He spent years on the editorial side, and he knows story. He also values his clients. He pays attention to my work and career. He reads through each new draft and knows the characters and stories well enough that when plot problems turn up at the eleventh hour he’s fully conversant with what’s happening and can offer stellar suggestions not only for how to fix issues, but for how to address the way those changes will alter things going forward.
One of the reasons I wanted to work with Bob over other agents was my sense from the first that he was easy to talk to and that we had similar points of reference. I also had a hunch that he’d continue to be easy to speak with, and that’s proven correct. If I call and don’t happen to catch him then he usually returns my call the same day.
I suppose that brings up an important point of agent advice I should pass on. I myself was told early on not to pester one’s agent, and not to assume that getting an agent meant you had a new best friend. As far as pestering, yes, don’t do that. But don’t be so shy or star struck that you never call or write them. You’re paying the agent a percentage of what you make, so you really ought to be consulting them. It’s a business partnership. That doesn’t mean that your relationship’s going to remain coldly professional, or that you won’t become friends over the course of working together, but that shouldn’t be your first goal. I have a good time just chatting with Bob these days about all sorts of nonsense, but then we’ve been talking now for more than seven years.
Mostly I’m writing this post to tell you how awesome Bob Mecoy is. But let’s extrapolate so you writer types can think about what you’d want for your own agent. Seek one who’s responsive and interested in your material, who’s professional and knows the business, and will work with you towards long term goals.
Now I must go write. And I might even give Bob a ring before I start to tell him again how great his advice was.