Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Met My Agent

I have just returned from a fast and furious trip back to Massachusetts to see my family and meet my agent for the first time. I flew in and out between snowstorms, though I did get to drive in pretty significant snow from Princeton to the Providence airport. Which is actually in Warwick, but I digress! My flight left at 9:30, and at 8:25 I was one mile from the airport and going nowhere in crawling traffic and snow. I made peace with the fact that I could be one mile away and still miss my flight, but I ended up making it after all.

In between two looooonnnng flying days, I had two lovely days with my family. I got to sit with my mother, who is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's. She dozes, opens her eyes, smiles and nods, then closes her eyes again. The only word she said in an hour's time was, "beautiful," which she struggled to get out after hearing me say it a few times. But I was glad to just sit and hold her hand. I hope you won't mind if I just go ahead and say right here: Alzheimer's Sucks!

I spent time with my sister and BIL Terry, and my amazing nieces, Olivia and Elizabeth. They are growing up way too fast.

Oh my gosh! It was SOOOOO cold! Like 5 degrees during the day. Yikes.

On Monday I drove 2 hours to meet Kate Epstein, my agent, for breakfast in Dedham, Mass. She is a delight - young, smart smart smart, knowledgable, and funny. We talked about our personal histories, books we loved and didn't love, and next steps with The Christmas Village. We will finish up our editing, which is almost done (I think!) and then she will figure out how to pitch the book and to which publishers.

One strategy is to pitch a handful of publishing houses. Another is to pitch a whole bunch at once. There are pros and cons to each approach. If you pitch just a few, you may get some feedback that you really need to get, and you can use that when you pitch the next round. On the other hand, if you pitch broadly, you can get them all fighting over the book, which of course is what we all hope for. The downside of pitching broadly is if there IS feedback you needed to get, and you didn't get it, and all the publishers pass on the book. After that, it's pretty hard to go back and pitch again. So, I think I favor pitching a few and seeing what the response is first. But we'll see what Kate thinks when the proposal is ready.

One thing she will do is look at other books that are similar to mine in genre or tone. In our case, we will look at books that have a Christmas aspect to them. But although The Christmas Village takes place at Christmas, it isn't ABOUT Christmas really - think It's A Wonderful Life to see what I mean. Still, the Christmas element is very strong, so it's natural to look at other Christmas books for likely publishers.

Anyway, it was a productive trip and I am excited for us to take our next steps along this path. I feel like I am in good hands.

In upcoming blogs, I plan to post about how I found my agent and also why I chose the agent I chose.


  1. I will be very interested to learn how you decide to pitch the book. After I saw "Black Swan," I realized that it actually was a horror movie that just happens to take place in the world of ballet. So likewise, as you suggest, "The Christmas Village" is only tangentially about Christmas. I guess it is also a fantasy story, a mystery story -- a time travel (science fiction?) story. OK, so maybe not sci-fi. And while you correctly point out that "It's a Wonderful Life" is not REALLY a Christmas movie, we probably should wrack our brains to remember when we've ever seen it aired in July. So I guess a book can get caught up in a "genre" or put into a box, so to speak, even unintentionally. VERY Interesting marketing proposition! T

  2. You hit the nail on the head! I don't want the book pitched as a "time travel" story or sci-fi. Genre-wise, it's a fantasy-adventure. I think it's most powerful to call it a Christmas story - that is how the other agent saw it. There is a lot of power in Christmas, emotionally and financially. In my own mind I say these words, "The Christmas Village is the new Christmas classic." So, yeah, stay tuned to find out!! And thanks for posting!

  3. I would love to hear more about how you found your agent. I self-published, but would like to take a more traditional route for the next one.

  4. Hi Patricia - I'll post about that next!


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