Earlier in the year, I was lucky enough to attend a very entertaining talk by a local Literary Agent. We don’t have many Agents in this neck of the woods so it was a huge privilege, especially in a time of closing borders and vaccine passports.
The agent was deeply experienced in her field and an engaging speaker. She gave her time generously to answer questions both during the talk and in the tea break afterwards. She was a very popular speaker and I think she’d have been there answering questions at midnight if she didn’t make a break for it.
I made about four pages of notes from her talk but one thing really stuck in my mind. Looking through my notes I wrote down this gem and underlined it a couple of times. To a room full of writers, she said, ‘Don’t be weird.‘
A huge ask for most writers.
But I think what she meant was, when you pitch and agent, have some quick pleasantries and then talk about your story. When the agent says ‘here’s my card,’ say thank you and move along. If you don’t get a request or a business card, move along. Better luck next time.
She probably also meant, when you email, don’t be weird and put weird stuff in the subject matter to get attention. Don’t try to jump the queue.
Don’t be weird and get all angsty about the time it’s taking the agent to get back to you. Email your story and move along. Go write another story.
Don’t be weird, she suggested, when you meet an agent in person. Don’t follow them to the bathroom with your printed manuscript and don’t, really really don’t, slide said printed manuscript under the door.
Let’s make a pact, as a collective, to be weird in all the right ways because what’s weirder than sitting alone in a room telling stories to yourself? Be weird and wonderful and a little bit out of control but yeah, let’s not be weird in the ways that make other people feel uncomfortable.
But I think what’s truly inspiring about that talk by the agent, was all the weird that she’s obviously experienced didn’t stop her from going out and talking to more rooms full of writers.
In this era of social media we risk more than ever, exposing ourselves to more people every day in the name of platform building, networking and book sales. It’s frustrating to have to field the weird, the bad weird I mean, but then the good weird makes it all worthwhile and there is just so much more of the good weird out there.
Feature photo is from one of my fave creatively weird cafes in Byron Bay, Foxy Luus 💃