Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Agent Dating Game

Towards the beginning of this year I started getting agents contacting me to inquire about representation. At the time I already had an agent. But as it turned out my agent and I would part ways in a few months, and this meant I was able to contact those who had reached out and tell them I was on the open market. So for the past month or so I’ve been meeting and talking with agents and I’ve been struck time and time again with how the process of choosing an agent is just like dating. Thus, The Agent Dating Game.

Of course, a large part of this is due to my romantic notion that the ideal agent-writer relationship is like a marriage. It's a serious committed partnership, where both parties bring things to the table and work together to achieve certain goals. In our case the primary goal is to line our pockets with some big time publisher's money. I bet real marriages would work better if they had a third party they’re looking to get over on together.

When I got my first agent, I did all the work. I went through the standard process you will see in any “How To Find A Literary Agent” guide. So I can say I quite enjoy now being in more of a pursued position. And consequently, I feel can relate more to the female perspective in dating. I get free meals and drinks. And I get to bat my eyes and say “all this attention over little ol’ me.” Before I meet agents I usually make sure to get a good night’s sleep with my mask on. As Borat might say, "iss niiice."

Sometimes, I feel like these agents are just in it to check out the goods. They ask about my site’s traffic like there’s not an actual person living behind this rack, err blog.

And of course you have the big shot types, giving off that “I date models and superstars all the time, so I could care less if you like me TAN, but I will check in to see if you’re giving up the goods real quick” vibe. On the flip side you have the earnest romantic who perhaps can’t promise success as easily or quickly, but can promise to give you tons of attention. I personally would love to date a girl who would give me head, errr editorial feedback while I’m watching the NBA Playoffs. Borat says, "Attention isss niiiice."

But success in the agent-writer relationship is, of course, the book deal. Which is sort of like a married couple giving birth. And therefore during the dating process, I equate talking about the book proposal to feeling out the sexual compatibility. It used to be couples got married all the time without testing the sex, but nowadays more people realize that’s just bunkum and balderdash. Unfortunately I’ve been so wrapped up in this metaphor, I recently told a female agent we should “test our sexual chemistry,” and by that I meant we should talk more about proposal ideas, but I think I scared her off. So heretoforwith, there will be no more unexplained sex references in my communication with agents.

But since we’re on the subject of sex, it’s always important to mention that you have to be safe out there. I recommend googling and testing any agent you go out with. No one wants to sleep, err sign with a dirty agent. If you send out a proposal infested with STD’s no editor or publisher is even going to look at you next time around. So be careful. Don't be the guy with the proposal that has AIDS. Wear a condom.

Of course so much of this is new for me. I’m sure it’s like any young lad just starting to date and get involved with people. Everyone who comes across is exciting, and if there are any sparks at all I get all bubbly thinking about a possible future with this person. That said, since I had this previous relationship that didn’t work out, I’m working hard to suppress those emotions. I have some of that jaded, cold, been-around-the-block feeling in me as well, so we’ll see.

Actually there’s one who’s caught my eye. And wouldn’t you know it this agent was referred to me by an editor friend of mine. I was set-up with this guy, almostl ike a publishing blind date, and he happens to have many of the things I’m looking for. I wonder if someone sets you up with the person you eventually marry, are they entitled to some reward. I bet they feel like that. I hope this editor doesn’t come asking for a percentage of my advance.

Anyways, I don’t know when this dating carousel will stop. I hope soon. Cause I’m tired of just being out there in these seedy cafes and sushi restaurants. Though one good thing in the agent dating game is that you don't have to worry about walking in with some stunning agent and have them get ogled the whole time. No one knows the faces behind the scenes, so there's no cat calls and people walking up saying, "damn agent, you lookin' good. why you messin' with TAN, my blog is hotter. You need to cut that zero, and come represent this hero." That happens all the time in regular dating, so it's nice it doesn't translate with agent dating.

Anyways, again, I do hope this rollercoaster of emotion stops soon. I want something and someone I can depend on in my life. Someone who cares about me and my words, my blog-boobs and my brain. And, of course, like me wants to get into a publishers wallet for as much money as possible.

So if you’re a single agent*, and you feel the same way I do, let’s talk, have a couple drinks (on you), and see if destiny rears her beautiful face. Send me your pic, and I'll send you mine (via a link to my blog).

(please post to craigslist personals, men seeking agent)

*this is just for the post, I'm not actually soliciting inquiries, my bed, errr plate is full.

TAN's Little Black Book


  1. My ex-roommate was an actor, and the dating analogy is spot-on. It felt like I was counseling a female friend that was constantly getting date-raped.

  2. I have no experience with agents personally. But based on accounts given to me by friends who do, I can say you should also watch out for the kind of agent/girl who gives you their number and asks you to call -- because they’re “really interested” and “want to get together” -- and then when you call, you’re told they no longer work/live there.

    Or the kind who love what you’ve got to offer, until about the third meeting when suddenly all they want to do is make changes to you and what you/your novel are all about.

  3. "there will be no more unexplained sex references in my communication with agents."
    TAN you crazy! Good luck with them ho's/I mean agents...

  4. i love it TAN. this was a great post. and good luck with choosing the right mate/partner/agent

  5. Anonymous5/24/2006

    i love the blog as breasts analogy.

  6. Congratulations on this, your dilemma.

  7. Anonymous5/25/2006

    and of course you can't drag this out for years before you get married, like real life.

  8. yep, sounds just like dating. especially the free meal part. actually the food is the only reason why I date.
    Will Date For Food

  9. You don't know from blog-boobs.

  10. Good post TAN. I'm actually taking a publishing class as part of my MA in writing right now, and we just had the Agent Discussion. I'm too wondering if I should get one, but no one has approached me because of my blog. So kudos on that.

  11. well i wouldn't want the dating carousel to stop. not when i'm having fun dating multiple guys from webdate*dot*com. it's getting addicting, to be completely honest.

  12. Anonymous11/08/2006

    I thought she was going to get some busiess from this relationship. Instead you gave her the business as only TAN man can.


  13. have no experience with agents personally.


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