Fifteen years ago, my friend Robin Jones Gunn told me about her editor, Janet Grant, who was becoming an agent. I’d been attending Mt. Hermon Writer’s conferences for a few years, and having an agent seemed cool and very important. It took a few tries for Janet to welcome me into her flock. This was 1997 and before Facebook, so I’m pretty sure the only people who heard about my new agent-ed status was my husband, my dog, and maybe a writer friend or two. I don’t think I mentioned it to anyone at church because how can you explain something like that without sounding like you’re tooting your own horn?
The truth about having an agent is that she listens to my ideas. (I have a lot of ideas, if you couldn’t guess that.)
And she tells me which ones are good. Her mind is like a gold pan that swirls everything around, sloshing out the muddy water and stones, while clinging to the nuggets.
She tells me which ideas won’t work and why . . . and sticks to her beliefs even when I try to convince her otherwise. (And since her track record is pretty darn good, I listen.)
The truth about having an agent is that Janet is really the only one on this planet who understands what I’m juggling. She’s aware of the books that are due, the ideas she’s presenting, and even the ideas that are still being firmed up like cherry jello in the fridge.
The truth about having the same agent for fifteen years is that I’m learning how to read the pauses of her speech and the tones of her voice. I can tell when the phone rings and I pick it up if she has good news, bad news, or just business news. (There’s a special little chirp when there’s good news.)
Now, some of you might be wondering why this is the topic of today’s blog, especially if you’re not a writer or aren’t interested in publishing books.
The truth about having an agent is that I signed up with a life-mentor without realizing it . . . and all of us need mentors. We each need someone to listen to our ideas, to give us wise feedback, and to understand what we’re juggling. Too many of us go through life hiding everything inside and don’t get the chance to be listened to or known.
Having an agent-mentor has also guided me as I support writer-friends. There are times I’ve heard the advice she gave me fifteen, ten, or five years ago coming from my lips.
There is also another reason why I wanted to talk about this. It’s because I want to pass on a little advice to those who are looking to be published. Now, more than ever, it’s easy to get your words in print (or in ebook, which is electronic print). It may be tempting to handle things yourself, to upload your own products to Kindle, and to launch your own career from the security of your couch. While this is the right choice for some of you, in the midst of your business planning consider what you might be missing out on, who you might be missing—a gold pan, a fellow-juggler, an advocate, and a cheerleader.
I’m not going to tell you want to do, but at least take the time to explore what’s possible. For those who are diligent, the right person will come at the right time and you’ll be thankful that God gave you a companion on this writing journey who truly understands.
And that’s the truth.
*Photo credit: Image courtesy of creativedoxfoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net