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An Agent’s Reaction

My primary form of communication with clients is via email. Let’s face it, it’s faster, easier, and you’ve never heard of playing “email tag.” That being said, there are a few instances where I almost always call.

When I’m offering representation. Certainly I think a big request like this, “Will you be my client?” needs to be heard and not read, but really . . . I just want to hear the excitement in an author’s voice. There’s nothing better than that pause when the potential client wants to scream, but is trying desperately to stay calm. I love it.

The second? When we get an offer from a publisher. This never gets old, and whether it’s your first contract or your fiftieth, I don’t think it ever gets old for the author either. I love the cheering, the telephone happy dance, and the ability to share good and exciting news.

Do you know what I love most about both of these calls? When an author lets go of the professionalism for just an instant and allows herself (or himself) to scream, cheer, or enjoy a little crazy laughter. It gives me chills. Even writing about it gives me chills.

So what would you do if an agent let go of that professionalism for just an instant and screamed, put down the phone for a happy dance, or let out a squeak of crazy laughter? Because I have to tell you, after years of agenting and offering representation to numerous clients, it never gets easier or any less exciting. Anytime an author makes me wait while she considers her choices, I become a crazy person. I IM Kim multiple times a day to ask why the author hasn’t gotten back to me yet, even if it’s Tuesday and the author promised she wouldn’t be making a decision until Friday. I pace around the house and obsessively talk to my family about the book and, when the author finally calls to say “yes,” I have a moment of breathless excitement, that pause when I want to scream.


Category: Blog


  1. This is a wonderful post! Even I'm all giddy reading it, and I've never been in either situation. For new authors, I think it's fantastic to hear that an agent gets as happy/nutty as we do over waiting on decisions and ultimately hearing the positive response. Too often we hear phrases like "gate keepers" (and some less flattering epithets) and forget that you guys are real people, with feelings, too. Thank you for reminding us in such an awesome way!

  2. Everything about this post made me smile. The excitement in your words is just contagious! I think it's absolutely wonderful when an agent gets as giddy/joyful as the authors. It's a perfect reminder of how passionate you all are about the process – and in a journey like this, that's an amazing thing. Thanks for the inspiration this morning!

  3. That's so cool that you as an agent can get just as excited as an author. That's the kind of agent I'm looking for. I've got agents reading my full at the moment, and for me, when I get offered representation, how excited that agent is about my book will go a long way in deciding who I choose.

  4. Gosh, I can't imagine.

    After four years of rejection and near-misses in Queryland, I had such a tight control on my emotions that I really didn't let go and celebrate until my cover art arrived. Thank God I got The Call by email. Hopefully, I'm over that and can enjoy the ride now.

  5. What a wonderful pick-me-up on this cold Novembrrrr morning! It's so great to know that you get just as excited to represent talented authors as said authors are to be represented by a talented agent!

    I can't wait to get that call! (Here's me thinking positive and saying what's on the minds of all new authors currently without representation).

  6. Reading about it thrills me. I'm not sure if actually experiencing it would. I'd wonder why my new agent is so excited. Am I that great a catch (it's not like agents are breaking down my door)? Or is she desperate for a new client and if so why?

    I think I'd be thrilled if my new agent said "I squealed when you said yes" more so than if my agent squealed when I said yes.

    Does that make sense?

    And when you call, you're on the phone, right? I don't have a land line and get horrible cell coverage at my home. I'd rather use Skype but I don't know how likely that would be as a possibility.

  7. You mean YOU go through a bit of what we do? Wow. I have to tell you, that makes me want you as an agent, more than any slick website, or even a stellar reputation in the industry.

    That someone would break the stodgy, NY professionalism to squeal about MY writing? You'll have me at "Hello."

  8. Reading that made my day! Especially since I'm preparing to query…

    As someone still trying to get an agent, I can tell you that it's so fraking comforting to hear that you, the agent, gets chills when we, the hopeful client, freaks out just a little in joy. I think that I, myself, my actually suffer a small aneurism the moment I realize that an agent has called me, and likes me, and wants to rep me. Since I still haven't gotten that call yet, I naturally obsess over screwing it up when/if I do ever get it… So it's reassuring to know that I won't be the only one in the conversation freaking out just a little… 🙂

  9. I remember waiting until April 2nd to offer representation to one author because I was afraid if I called her on April 1st (which was when I finished the manuscript and KNEW I wanted to rep her!) that she would think it was a nasty April Fool's joke. LOL!

  10. I still remember the call when you offered representation–I'm not a screamer, but I was definitely in shock. AND, when you called to tell me Kensington was interested in Wolf Tales–I was pulling into the parking lot at the local Safeway (it was still legal to talk while driving in California) and I kept thinking, this is SURREAL! After twenty years waiting to get this call, I'm in the frickin' PARKING LOT?

    Thanks for a really great post to start a new week AND a new month!

  11. What a fun post! I was smiling the whole time, fantasizing about that being me one day on the other end of the phone. And personally, I would LOVE it if an agent lost her professionalism for a moment and was just as giddy! Not only would it show they were excited about me and my work, but that we would be a great fit 🙂

  12. Like Kimber An, I got The Call from my agent via e-mail, and it wasn't quite as exciting. I also had a small press offer for the manuscript in hand, so the circumstances weren't quite as momentous either.

    What *was* a thrill–and one I got via email on my Blackberry while shopping for a window air conditioner: Hearing that my already published small press novel won a major award. But since I couldn't make a scene in the middle of the mall, I purchased my AC, drove home, and screamed as soon as I shut the door.

    BTW, winning visible awards has not made the process of selling my next work to major houses significantly easier, something that's left both my agent and me somewhat surprised. And while small presses tend to be more impressed (and overall are a better fit for literary fiction where success is measured in awards more than sales), they also tend to run into financial trouble and suspend acquisitions or publication without much notice. This might be a good topic for a future post, Jessica.

  13. Love this heartwarming post.

    I'm not a screamer, at least I don't think I am. I'm willing to bet that my first reaction would be disbelief, then I'd have to sit down due to legs shaking like leaves in a windstorm. Maybe, perhaps a tiny squeak….

  14. This was such a fantastic post! A great way to start off the new month.

    It makes me excited to hear that agents have nail biting moments when they wonder if WE will THEM back. Considering how many authors there are out there, it sometimes seems like agents might not care one way or another if we want them or that they want us as much as we want them. Hearing it from this point of view is really exciting.

    And I'm pretty sure I'm a screamer, but I think I might be able to hold it together long enough to ask if the agent might mind holding on for just a moment so I can set the phone down first.

  15. Okay, I promise if I should ever be fortunate enough to get a "Will you be my client?" call from you, I won't be the least bit calm or professional. You'll hear my happy dance all the way from Ohio…even without the phone.

  16. When I got the representation offer call from you, I was corralling my two children in a restaurant and it was them doing the screaming — haha! But the people at the table next to me must have thought I was an idiot because I was sitting there wildly grinning and letting my 2-year-old throw rice at the baby with no reprimands.

    But it was definitely awesome to hear the news over the phone. Now I can't wait for the publishing offer call!

  17. I think I would ask the agent if she/he minded if I put the phone down for just one minute and then I'd scream "Oh, yeah, baby" and jump up and down and get the dog barking because of course he would have no idea why his mommy was so excited. I might even forget to pick the phone back up. I think it's great to show your excitement. I know when one of my writers wins an award, I'm doing the happy dance and shouting and generally going crazy. But that's me. I’m excited for their accomplishments and so very proud of them. Agents and writers are human and it's the humanness we show at times like this that connects us to others. Hell, yell. Celebrate. Life is good! And you have a lot to be happy about.

  18. Thank you for this post! It provided a lot of laughs and definitely some encouragement. It's wonderful to know that agents can get just as excited about these things as we can.

    I'd love to hear the agent go a bit crazy over the phone along with me. I don't think I could stand an agent who is strictly professional all the time. I'd be wondering if they really did like me or not.

  19. What a cool post!

    It cheers me to know that you guys pace too. I didn't become a spaz until I made a sale. Isn't that weird?

    But when I got my call for representation it was in the morning. And it was 9, but that's early for me because I'm usually up writing until about 4 or 5. My contacts were being difficult and I couldn't see, so I fell down the stairs and managed not to cuss a blue streak. When I finally made it to my chair, she offered me representation and I promptly fell out of it and hit my head. I've never been so happy to get a bruise in my life. *g*

  20. Great post Jessica!

    It was fun imagining it happening to me as I read your post.

    Actually, I don't know what I'd do, maybe laugh, cry, scream, silent disbelief, then laugh again, scream again, happy dance…I think you'd have to say it twice because I would go into instant, joyous, shock.

    Ah, the joys of having someone love and appreciate your creative work.

  21. Thanks so much for posting this. It's always nice to hear about agents who love their work–but this goes beyond love, for me. The kind of barely-holding-back-a-scream excitement and happiness transcends that. It makes me smile, and keep smiling, to know that you throw your heart into projects right along with the authors.

  22. "Telephone happy dance."

    Fantastic. I don't even have an agent yet but I know I'd do this.

    I hope someday I have an agent as excited about having me as an author as you are about your clients. 🙂

  23. I work as a mediator, and when I get to make those calls to parties telling them that the dispute has been settled, and this huge/horrible/angsty/financially or emotionally draining thing is gone from their lives forever… it totally rocks. It never, ever gets old. I do a little dance every time I make that call.

  24. Nicole – I wanted to let you know that I read your comments and then your blog and first, (((hugs))). Trust me, we've all been right there with you, crying over the keyboard. Best case, it's because the scene we're writing is so emotional, but sometimes it's for the exact reasons you gave. That's probably why we're writers – because we feel a lot of stuff. And hopefully it's the ability to tap into all of that emotion that will make our books really sing. 🙂


  25. Now you know why we hate waiting…esp when 8 weeks turns into 8 months without a word from an agent who has your full. Torture–and it makes you think twice about doing biz with that agent…

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