Monday, July 13, 2009

Young Guns

STATUS: I’m off to Washington D.C. tomorrow for RWA. I’ll be blogging but it might be sporadic—just like Friday’s lost entry. Sorry about that. Some days there really are not enough hours to finish everything.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ME AND MRS. JONES Michael Buble version

Just recently, an aspiring writer sent me this note:

“One thing that worries me is how young many of you agents are. [Young in my forties, I love this person!] I feel so old when I meet these youngsters who will have so much power over my future.”

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this concern from an aspiring writer. First off, “young” is a relative term. Are we simply referring to agents in their twenties? Yes, that's certainly young but that doesn't mean inexperienced. Agents in their thirties? Well, A thirty-something being in a position of power at any type of company (not just publishing) is not an unusual thing.

Being in my forties, well I guess if the writer is in his or her eightes, I’m certainly a whippersnapper in that context but I don’t think that’s what this writer means.

So I’m going to assume that we are talking about agents in their twenties. And here is what I can tell you. Publishing is a young profession (You have to be young to be willing to take on such low-pay for considerable length of time and do it all potentially in New York City but that’s an aside.)

The young agents I’ve met (which is quite a few) are scary bright. I look back at myself in my twenties and think, “did I have it together like that?”Maybe, I was a college teacher in my twenties so I must have had some act together but boy, I’m not sure I had the focused that a lot of these young agents do.

They are dedicated, passionate, and hard-working. As a writer, I would worry less about age and more about these young guns’ reputation, commitment to your work, etc. These young agents know the young editors who will be running the publishing houses in about 10 to 15 years (and I’m not kidding here).

So keep that in mind. And of course, what I’ve said above can’t possibly apply to every young agent but I’m willing to bet that if the above doesn’t apply, those youngsters will be weeded out before they have an opportunity to build their own client lists.

“Old timer” Janet Reid raves about “youngster” agent Barbara Poelle on her blog. On mine, let me rave about two young agents who have also got it going on—Holly Root and Emmanuelle Alspaugh.

If you haven’t checked them out yet, maybe you should.