Thursday, April 17, 2008
M.P. Barker and The Great Agent Quest
This is the face that got me my agent. No, really. This is Tie-Dye the Wonder Dog (1989-2005). He was the best little guy, and I was missing him terribly in spring 2005 when I was on my Great Agent Quest.
So there I am, going through lists of agents, and I’m looking at John Hawkins and Associates, the oldest literary agency in the country. And I’m seeing names like James Clavell and Alex Haley and Joyce Carol Oates. And I’m saying, “Yeah, right. Like these guys would really represent a nobody like me.” But what the heck, I read the agent profiles anyway. And in the profile for William Reiss, I see that he represents Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, author of
I see that cute little beagle snout, big brown beagle eyes and floppy beagle ears as an omen. Fate. Kismet.
A message from Tie-Dye and the beagle gods in the Great Beyond. I say, “This is the agent for me!” So off I send my query—zip! And zip! the next day I get an email requesting fifty pages. The fifty pages get sent, and zip! an email comes back asking for the rest of the story. The beagle gods are plied with burnt offerings of bacon and cheese and yea, verily, they are pleased.
Three months go by. In the meantime, being on a self-help-book kick, I’m reading about these affirmation things, where you’re supposed to keep saying what you want to happen and that’s supposed to make it happen. Sounds pretty hokey, but what the heck, it can’t hurt, right? My affirmation: “This guy is my agent.”
So it’s been three months, and I ask Mr. Reiss what’s the status on my MS. Nicely…professionally…definitely NOT telling him about the beagle gods and affirmations. I mean, really, you can’t let your prospective agent know you’re certifiably insane, can you?
I get a polite: “I'm going to decline, even though there is a good deal that I like about the novel.” UGH. What have I done to offend the beagle gods? Have I not been forthcoming with the bacon? Have I looked covetously upon cats? No I have not. I have been faithful to the beagle gods as a good and loyal supplicant should be. So I do what any logical, rational person would in this situation. I yell at the computer: “You can’t reject me! You’re supposed to be my agent! It is the divine will of the beagle gods!”
But I am a professional and so I do not call the wrath of the beagle gods down upon this goodly man, but instead I thank him for reading the MS and ask him if there’s anything I might do to get him to reconsider—assuring him that I am a reasonable person not wedded to my deathless prose, and quite open to making changes if he so desires. And yea, verily, there is hope, for he replies “Give me a week to think about it.” And at the end of the allotted week, lo, the beagle gods have smiled and gifted me with an agent. A very, very good agent, with whom I am well pleased.
M.P. Barker is the debut YA author of A Difficult Boy.
Set against the exciting backdrop of New England history, this stunning first novel from a talented new voice shows what it takes to be a friend.