Monday, October 02, 2006

The First Date (with your agent that is!)

Do we all remember the first time we met our agents in person? You've been talking on the phone and emailing for ages and now there is no procrastinating it. You need to meet in person. The getting ready, the preparing how you're going to greet them, the whole "I hope they're just as cool in real life thing"... so much like going on that first date with a long-distance significant other.

My first date with Ms. Sha-Shana Crichton went something like this:
She was in Seattle for the Northwest Pacific Writing Association Conference in 2004. Though I was a member, I couldn't attend that year due to a work crisis. I live about 20 minutes away from the airport hotel where it was being held. At this point, she had represented me for around three months and we were working on a new project to shop around.

We'd already spoken on the phone and sent email and decided we would meet at the airport hotel on the Saturday night at 7, after her appointments were complete.

I nervously slipped into my favorite Express black wrap-dress and pink sparkly sandals. I checked the directions to the hotel three times, forced myself to wait till 6:30. Then I started my drive. I had all these visions of what she would be like. On the phone, she had the most awesome Jamaican accent and was all business.

I arrived at the hotel right on schedule and called her on her cell-phone. No answer. Oh damn.
I tried again after 5 minutes. She answered breathlesslessly. "I'm so sorry, my last appointment is going over. Could you give me 15 minutes?"

Hell yea I would!

I sat down in the lounge and watched as the very faboulous Katie McAllister practically ran from the hotel after being mobbed by vampire teenager loving fans. I watched groups of nervous writers chattering as they went over the agent requests they'd gotten.
Then Sha-Shana arrived like a vision. She wore a sleeveless blue dress and a green pashmina and greeted me with a fierce hug. "Let's get out of here!"

I had not planned for this.

I lead her to my car and we stated driving. And driving. We discussed her flight, the past two days, the overall feel of the conference. And we kept driving because I couldnt think of a single place to go for dinner near the airport. :)

Finally we arrived at Dennys. We talked about the book for around 20 minutes as we waited for my sandwich and her salad to arrive. As soon as our food arrived, all work talk stopped. We discussed Indian culture, Jamaican culture, what it means to be a parent, life, weight-loss, men, just every topic you could think of. We spent over an hour sitting there in that cramped booth, untouched coconut cream pie in front of me and just go to know each other. It was fantastic. She was fun, creative, fun-loving, and extremely extremely cool.

I loved her.

And then i drove her back to the hotel and made her promise to come back the following year :)

So that was my first date with Ms. Sha-Shana. Since then we've attended the Golden Hearts dinner in Reno together, taken a nap on the couches in Atlanta, and will be meeting again this weekend in Seattle for the Emerald City. She is more than an agent: she's a good friend and I feel very lucky to have her in my life.


stephhale said...

That was a great post! I was so nervous last summer when I had my first face to face meeting with my agent, Jenny Bent. I'd put her up on this uber-pedestal for years. It made for a nerve-wracking first meeting. She greeted me with a huge hug and all the fear I'd had melted away. As we talked I remembered that she was still uber-agent Jenny Bent, but more importantly, she was a woman who had connected with me and my story. I'm also lucky to have her!
I hope you have fun this weekend, Dona! :)

TinaFerraro said...

Wonderful blog, Dona!

I had been talking via phone/e-mail with my agent, Nadia Cornier, for 9 months prior to meeting her, and I was nervous about The Big Meet, too.

We’d planned lunch for the second day of the to Reno RWA conference. But within minutes of arriving that first night, as I stood chatting with a friend, I felt a woman’s eyes on me. I glanced at her and she looked familiar. I thought I’d probably met her at another event, and when a natural break came in my conversation, I turned and smiled and said, “I know you, right?”

She laughed and said something like, “You’d better, I’m your agent.”

Then we hugged and laughed. Of course, I had seen her picture on her blog and agency website, but my mental image of her had her at about 5’0”. She’s much taller, maybe 5’7" or 5’8". I told her that and she said that was a common misconception, probably due to the gymnast, Nadia Comaneci.

Anyway, we spontaneously went to dinner and swapped kid pics and ex-boyfriend stories, and, well, have been pretty much living happily-ever-after...

Trish Ryan said...

What a fun story! It's funny how nervous we get over meeting people we have so much in common with - after all, we both love our book and want to sell it! :)

Marley Gibson said...

Great story, Dona...hey, you should be a writer! ::giggle:: It really is great to meet that person that just GETS you and your writing. I have that with my fabuloso agent, Deidre Knight. We chatted via e-mail for a few months before she offered representation and then we met in Reno last year for the first time at the Chick Lit party. It was like we'd known each other forever. Such great chemistry. And eight months later, she got me my book deal. No complaints here!

I hope every writer can find the connection so many have discovered with their agents. It truly means the world when you can find that person who understands what you're doing with your plots, characters and stories.

Great post, Dona!

Marley = )

Marley Gibson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
GeminiWisdom said...

I'll be looking for reprensentation within the month and I hope my experience is as good as yours.

Me said...

Fun post, Dona!

Like Steph, I'm repped by Jenny B. and met her for the first time in Atlanta. Until two weeks before conference I was dreading meeting her. Though she'd repped me since the previous October, I hadn't sold yet and was terrified that she was going to drop me. I mean, I wasn't making her money, right?

Anyway, thankfully we sold my YA just days earlier so I had like a huge weight lifted off me. Otherwise I probably would have passed out or forgotten the entire meeting.

The absolute best thing about the meeting was that, in person, she was everything I expected her to be after the emails/phone calls. It's like, you have this gut instinct about a person and that's why you put your career in their hands... so it's nice when you realize that instinct was dead on.

Simone Elkeles said...

I also feel very close to my agent, Nadia Cornier from Firebrand Literary Agency. I met her at the Chick Lit party in New York and we hit it off right away. She's hysterically funny, she totally entertains me. I know people say it's a business partnership and that's all, but to me it's that and so much more. She's the angel who waved her magic wand and made me a published author.