I’ve gotten agents all different ways. I’ve gotten agents through email and through snail mail and through a writer’s conference. My last agent, before my current agent, I found when I asked an author I was interviewing for her recommendation and she suggested her agent. He was a lovely guy who liked my novel and always responded as soon as I wrote him. That he couldn’t sell the book was hardly his fault. It wasn’t a book I was that interested in publishing in the first place. I went to the PNWA’s Conference shortly after he and I parted ways. I couldn’t have been happier. I had started a new book, a different sort of book. I loved this book. It was the first book I had written in sometime where I didn’t feel like I had to pretend to be someone I wasn’t to write it. But it wasn’t close to finished, and so I didn’t need an agent, and so I could go to the conference without having to sell anything. What a pleasure.
I went to a little gathering for the agents and editors before the conference. An agent and a writer I knew were listening to an agent I hadn’t met complain about Obama. She was very funny complaining about him. She reeked of veteran New York agent, which is precisely what she was. When the party was over and it was time to go back the hotel, the veteran New York agent and I wound up sitting beside one another on the bus. She was a very interesting woman, full of stories about New York and celebrities, and very honest and observant. It was nice to talk to an agent as a person instead of someone I was hoping to court.
And then she said something that got my attention. Even though I wasn’t looking for an agent, I had thought to myself, “When I do find an agent for this book, it would be nice if the agent had a spiritual life of some kind.” The veteran New York agent mentioned that she had been the first editor to publish Buddhists. Then she explained that becoming an agent was a part of her own “spiritual journey.”
When we stepped off the bus, I told her I wasn’t looking for an agent, but I thought she might be my agent. I told her what my unfinished book was about. When I told her the title, she said, “I want to work with you on it.” It was so easy it felt like cheating. I hadn’t gotten her. I’d simply met her.
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