Friday, December 11, 2009

Agent Appreciation Day

Kody Keplinger, author of the forthcoming novel The Duff, came up with the idea of Agent Appreciation Day, which is today! Many writers are blogging about their agents today (see a partial list here).

I wouldn't want my own fabulous agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, to feel unappreciated, so I had to come out of blog hiatus to join the celebration!

A few of the many reasons I appreciate my agent:

1) She loves my work! This is obviously huge. She continues to believe in it, and me, and has complimented my writing in ways that have probably made me blush. She told me that even her daughter loved my manuscripts, so it must be a whole family with good taste! ;-) She has even seen potential in manuscripts I'd already given up on.

2) She stays in touch. I've never had to wait a long time for her to get back to me on anything. Sometimes it's a day or two--sometimes it's only 5 minutes! She has called me and e-mailed me just to check in, and she always keeps me informed about the submission process. Even if I don't hear from her for a few weeks, I have complete confidence that she's on top of things, and will let me know if anything comes up.

3) She's enthusiastic and persistent. I hear about agents who give up after one round of submissions, or who send out manuscripts and let editors sit on them for six months or more without ever following up. Not so with Joan. She continues to seem determined to find just the right home for my manuscripts, and to make sure they don't just languish forever. Sometimes she'll ask me to rework something, but so far her enthusiasm hasn't waned.

4) She's patient. Not only has she not given up on my manuscripts, she hasn't given up on me even when I've been slow with things like revisions, or taken some breaks entirely because of other situations in my life. I assume she's patient with editors, too, though again, not to the point of never following up.

5) I trust her agency and her ability. While I haven't met Joan yet in person, she works for the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, and I've heard Erin speak at a conference. Erin's talk convinced me the agency would be a good fit for my writing. They represent picture books as well as novels--and I write both, they're approachable and pleasant, they know the industry well, and they have a great track record of sales. While my books haven't sold yet, Joan has made some great sales since becoming an agent this year. I wondered at first whether to take a chance on a new agent, but I knew she was involved in the writing community and that Erin believed in her, so I happily signed on, and I don't think I could have made a better decision!

6) The agency she works for is a fun, supportive one to be part of, with its own listserv and retreats, and other great writers to rub shoulders with. All the writers I know who are with the same agency are wonderful.

7) She's calm and confident. Every time I talk to her, she's a calming presence as I ramble nervously, and makes me feel like I can do it after all. I assume she projects the same confident, can-do attitude to publishers. While always seeming friendly and laid-back, she also seems like one of those people who can take on 20 projects, get them all done impeccably, and then ask "what next?", which is exactly the type person you'd want as an agent!

8) Joan is a writer herself, and I love writers! Her picture book, The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies, was named by the Association of Booksellers for Children as one of their Best Books of 2009. I think this also helps her understand the writer's end of the agent-writer relationship.

So, Joan, thanks so much for taking me on as a client, and please know you're very much appreciated! I only hope I can keep up my end of the deal and help you generate some sales! :-)


Joanna said...

Ammi-Joan is wonderful! We’ve only met once, but our literary paths have crossed more than a few times and everyone who has worked with her in any capacity adores her–as do I!

Congrats on having such a fabulous agent!

Ruth McNally Barshaw said...

Joan IS wonderful, I agree! I've met her in person, shared a retreat with her, and she has great ideas and is witty and kind.
You're in great hands, Alison. And so am I. :) (I'm with EMLA too -- I'll be linking to your blog post, on my blog)

ElanaJ said...

Joan is amazing -- so happy agent day to her!

L.B. Schulman said...

Joan is my agent, too. I couldn't agree with you more. Not only is she an amazingly easy person to get along with, but she also is highly organized. I can completely let go of the submission process (besides checking my email every three seconds for a hint of good news), which is saying a lot because I came into this situation untrusting, after having had two other agents I had to "let go."

Kirsten said...

Joan is my agent, too! I agree with everything you've said here -- she is easy to talk with, very knowledgable and patient, and SO in love with my book. Couldn't be happier!

Jeanne Ryan said...

Great post Alison! Another client of Joan's here! I don't have a current blog, but this is good inspiration to start one before next year's AAD.

I love that I always know where things stand with Joan, especially regarding the subbing process. Communication is crucial in this business and Joan does a wonderful job at it. I feel very fortunate to have signed with her.

I look forward to meeting her and my agency 'siblings' one of these days!

Suzette Saxton said...

So happy to hear you have an extraordinary agent. I have heard many wonderful things about her.