Agents are real people. Just like you and me.
I’ve always known that intellectually, but not with my gut. For years, agents were unapproachable far away giants who guarded the gateway to my dreams.
I discovered the truth at a writer’s conferences where I have met and talked with actual agents. Not only are they flesh and blood, they also have families they can’t always control, bosses they don’t always please, and hair that sometimes gets mussed.
The first person who helped me see the human behind the myth was a little woman I met in a bar the night before a conference opened. She drank too much that night and cursed profusely with the husky, stressed out voice of a lifelong smoker. At the beginning of the evening I hovered as close by as possible, clutching a bag carefully packed with a presentation package I hoped to show her. At the end of the evening I watched from the other side of the room, feeling sorry for the embarrassed conference volunteer who struggled with the thankless task of handling a drunken keynote speaker.
Did I trust her with my manuscript later in the week when I had the chance? No. I did not. But I have always been grateful to her in a perverse way. Never again did I look at an an agent with the same awestruck reverence.
Since that night I’ve met agents who are warm and approachable and others who are cool and professional. I’ve met flighty young agents and stodgy older agents. Mostly nice people. Just like you and me. Honest.
To help me remember agents are real people, I started a Pinterest board called Literary Agents.