When smaller is a bigger start

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Out on the Writer’s Digest blog, a novelist writes a story about his friendship with an agent. Before long it becomes a career prospect. She finally asks when she can read his work.

He decides to give her an exclusive look as his first attempt to land an agent. Problem? She is new at agenting, in the middle level of a small agency. Crazy, says his friend. Get all the money you can. Good business.

Good advice if your writing is a business at its core. Nothing wrong with building a retirement and healthcare nest egg. But at the start of your career — and it’s obvious from the blog that our writing hero is just starting, “defending my MFA” in the spring — smaller can be better. More attention, the start of a beautiful friendship.

A writer friend of mine went to the Writer’s League of Texas Agents Conference last month. She pitched in a formal 10-minute session, but her most significant pitch came at breakfast. Casual, while she told the story of her story.

“Is is finished?” asked the agent.

“Finished enough, for now.” My friend wants to enter her novel in a few contests first. (Very smart, to stand out in the query letters.)

“Send it to me.”

Those magic words, delivered over a personal meeting. If your (fiction) book is done don’t wait. Send, if you hear those words. And keep an eye on the potential for a relationship when you send. This is like hiring a doctor or a therapist or an accountant. Someone who can make a difference in the quality of your life, business and writing, too.

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