• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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How Could SO Much Love Be Inside Of You

Lately, I have to say, and I don’t mean to brag, my clients are killing it. Almost everyone is writing at the top of his game.  Sentences are unfurling. Ideas realized. Great titles pulled, like rabbits, from hats. Killer blurbs delivered. Films optioned.  Most of all: great writing. Right now I love opening attachments from my writers and you know who you are. It’s an amazing feeling after 27 years to feel so happy and proud of the scoundrels and thieves also known as your clients. When they are healthy and writing and being productive, that’s the happiest feeling for me. And it’s hard  won, pushing those boulders up those mountains. Take a Client to Work Day. I Heart Clients. I Break for Clients. It’s not to say that these relationships don’t wear you down, are sometimes fraught and intense and difficult, but there is also this: trust. A client putting his faith in an agent, an agent putting his faith in a writer.

You know I love bad agent stories, but tonight indulge me: any good stories?

23 Responses

  1. Good stories? An ex-agent of mine once detached both her retinas at the same time.

    For your screenplay, thought you’d enjoy:

    • I watched the video and at first I thought, jeez, funny, how apt and then as it went on I realized those assholes follow us all day long.
      You are beautiful, lose weight get a nose job, you’re smart, go back to school, you’re funny, I forgot to laugh.
      The copy is brilliant, make changes, your life is perfect, get a divorce, you have such nice kids, use your over-the-limit Visa to bail them out.

      You know what; I am beautiful, smart and funny. I am a good writer, my husband and I love each other and my Visa is nowhere near its limit and my kids are fine, they get out in 2020.

      Ah, I love humor in the morning and I love when life is going right. I don’t have an good-agent story because well…I don’t have an agent but I do have an editor. She told me once she was jealous of the writers and editors I have worked with. Who knew? They were just people to me.

    • Two detached retinas? Lemme guess, you sent her your sex scene.

  2. I had an offer from press X. I told my agent I’d always wanted to work with press Y. Weeks later I had a two book deal with press Y. Then I had another book. “Press Y?” said my agent. “Can we try for a big six?” said I. Now a big six is taking my MS to acquisitions.

    She gets with my program. That matters.

  3. I’m so proud of you Betsy, you’re sounding dangerously in touch with the universe. I don’t have any stories today, it’s too hot.

  4. My very first agent, Maria Carvainis, taught me to love opera.

  5. I am still seeking my first agent. It seems I am in the wrong blog, but I hang out here, hoping some of what all of you have will rub off. I can’t promise what my first reaction–and thus my first story–will be. Perhaps I will kiss first agent’s feet, or I may in my best Joe Pesci voice say, “Where the hell have you been!”

    • The day that you get a phone call from the agent of our dreams telling you that she likes your work will be the single most validating day of your writing life. At least, that’s how it felt for me, and still feels, after five and a half years.

      It’s when the New York Times finally deigns to review your book that you will say, “Where the hell have you been!” At least, that’s what I plan to say (in my best Joe Pesci voice).

      • You have forever labeled yourself with your beautiful book, “Le Road Trip.” So I think your Joe Pesci must have a French accent.

  6. I’ve never had an agent. You’re the best “good agent story” I know.

  7. Fourteen years and nine published books with my agent, and going strong. She’s done contracts for new books (each one with better terms than the last), renegotiated old contracts to improve them, skillfully gotten my publisher to admit they calculated royalties wrong and cough up the money (and I didn’t know a thing until the check arrived), run interference when marketing went awry, advised me when my editor switched publishers and wanted me to come too (I did; best decision of my career), sold foreign rights, gotten rights back on OP books and then re-sold them, offered opinions and advice at every turn. She doesn’t offer editorial comments unless I ask (my preference; I wanted a business agent and not an editorial agent). She’s celebrated with me when things go well and had wise and consoling words when they don’t. She’s honest and trustworthy and smart and experienced and I AM LUCKY.

  8. No agent here. No finished m/s yet. But shoot fire, Betsy, may all of this good joo-joo follow you to Brooklyn with your screenplay!

  9. Good agent story. You.

  10. When my agent dumped me, she made it into a gift and did it on my birthday.

  11. I know an agent. She and I both know I’m “not there yet”. Never-the-less, she gently asks the right questions so we can both gauge my progress, then we go our separate ways for several weeks. One day soon, I will have the courage to query her. Her type of patience is remarkable.

  12. After my agent found my unfinished novel through a writing contest, she stuck with me for almost three years while I finished it – and in the meantime talked it up so much that by the time she went to sell it, it went into a two-day auction … and now it’s coming out in three weeks! I truly do love my agent, because she also, always, tells me the truth.

  13. My agent gives me a headache. First book pubbed, go to NYC, am taken to lunch, and afterwards am asked by editor, “What’s next?” Sing for summer, pitching an idea that I’d abandoned after six years (four years ago), but know how to pitch. He loves it!


    This is not something I really want to pursue, and tell agent. Agent’s response: “I can get you some money, write a proposal.”

    Overachiever gene kicks in, I write sample chapters (“Amazing!”) but that’s not enough (is it ever? Or, as Korda wrote in a note to JSusann, “Once Was Enough,” see below) because there must be an … OUTLINE. Despite knawing feeling that writing outlines is not, as they say in L.A., my wheelhouse, I persist.

    LAP DISSOLVE: One year of my life, and ten outlines (one modeled agency repped proposal that sold for 500k) later two weeks ago finally elicit the response (4 months after sending), “I don’t know how to help you with this.”

    Uh. Okay.

    Slip into quiet default mode & think, “EAT Sh*t” because if he doesn’t know how to figure this out, with all his pretensions of being an editorial agent (and notes on first book were scant to say the least, but apparently crucial in his mind; not so much, I was the one who rewrote it, several times between acquisition, and galleys, painfully, meticulously, alone), WTF is he doing in my life?

    Not going to fire him, but am e-pubbing first mss in installments that ten years ago was gay roman a clef, morphed into a Gossip Girl / O.C. wanna be, and is now most comfortably a dark, BDSM erotic thriller romance whatever.

    The cover’s amazing, my obsessive revisions of the mss is the same as my obsessive compulsive revisions of my legacy pub’ed novel, and I hired someone to format the f’king thing.

    70/30 split, 5-6 channels for purchase, & they pay on a 30 day schedule.

    I know exactly how to help myself.

  14. MTW, ***sing for SUPPER***

  15. At the risk of being a total kiss ass, Betsy, I envy your clients!

  16. I have a story about an extremely strange e-mail conversation I had with a agent two years ago about a pitch I’d made in the comments of her Thanksgiving blog post, on behalf of Theodore “Ted” Turkey who’d written his memoirs.

    She told me to send pages, but I reluctantly informed her that Mr. Turkey had passed suddenly and as his literary executrix, I’d already accepted an offer from the Levine Literary Agency (contingent on finding a translator who could read his chicken scratchings).

    I still can’t believe I had the nerve to do that . . .

  17. Here’s what I tell people these days: I’ve had three agents, but only one husband. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right one in love and in literary business. The first agent was too big to care about me after the first check came in. The second agent stopped caring even before the book she sold for me came out – plus she was rude to the point of being cruel. The current agent calls me on a Sunday night when something goes wrong, gives me everything straight, encourages me with lines like this: it doesn’t matter if you’re a pain in the ass – you wrote a great book. She believes in me and supports me as if I’m her child. I will never, ever leave her if I have the choice. Hang in there, searchers. If an agent is acting like a an abusive boyfriend, break up and move on. The right one is out there.

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