Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pitch the Lunch

To continue our ongoing look at agents, here’s an article from The National about those dwindling agent/editor lunches. More and more, the failing economy is cutting into the lunch budgets of agents. They're having coffee instead or drinks after hours. This article, however, is an explanation of why the networking lunches are so important to agents and editors (and, thus, to writers).
“The idea of the lunch is that you’re looking for the place where your passions overlap,” said the literary agent Larry Weissman. … It’s the job of the agent to match the product with a suitable editor.
Mel Flashman, an agent with Trident Media Group, says that he’s made deals over lunch.
Flashman likens the lunches to dates. “Publishing is really a matter of taste, and taste is subjective. If someone debated in high school they might be more susceptive to a policy book as opposed to a meandering narrative. … “People will spend most of the time just talking about other things. I generally don’t talk about business for 95 per cent of the lunch. I let business arise organically, but maybe that’s just the Mel Flashman way of doing things,” said Flashman.”
If you’re an author invited to lunch, though, you need to know the rules and etiquette apparently.
Authors, however, are usually worse lunchers than agents. “Agents work in the business world, so they have to be at least borderline acceptable. Authors are often freaks. Often, they mistake my interest in their manuscript for my interest in them as a person, so they hit on me or provide too much information about things like failed marriages, extramarital affairs, or childhood trauma.
Eater beware.

P.S. I’m in Key West today.
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  1. I enjoyed this posting - will work on being a better 'luncher' in the future! I love Key West and Blue Heaven has the best Key lime pie! Have fun.

    Jane Kennedy Sutton

  2. What? You mean to tell me if the agent that takes me to lunch to discuss my book is a drop dead gorgeous babe I can't HIT on her? What's this world coming to!! LOL

    Sheesh - I'm quirky, but not THAT freaky - occupational hazard, I suppose.

    Good post.

    Marvin D Wilson

  3. Freaks is a little harsh. I prefer to think of authors as quirky. But if I ever get to lunch with a NY editor/publisher, I will be on my best behavior.

  4. So true. I think writers need to keep in mind that being published is a business and you are the proprietor of that business. When you write queries, talk on the phone with agents, editors, or meet industry people, have lunch/dinner always remember it's business. Conduct ourself as a business person. Over a meal is informal but still business. Save the personal failures of your life for discussions with friends and family. God knows, even they get tired of hearing it too, :-).

  5. Writers hit on editors? That sounds like desperation to me. :)

  6. Okay, the 'authors are often freaks' made me laugh out loud! (My husband came with me to a small book festival last year and commented that was obviously what was wrong with me - I wasn't freakish enough!!!)

    There's a lot to this lunch thing. Did anyone ever stop to wonder why the six big publishers and almost every agent all reside in New York City?

    L. Diane Wolfe

  7. On my list of why I'm a writer, number 7 says-

    7. So you can have ample opportunities to behave freakishly.

    So now what are you saying exactly, I'm NOT supposed to do that? I thought I was an artist. The rules are just piling up.


  8. Wow. That's kind of strange people taking the business lunch to a personal level like that. It's one thing to be amicable at a lunch with an agent, but to hit on them or get ultra-personal just seems crazy! I'm really enjoying these agent posts!

    Jenny Bean

  9. I don't get why someone would want to share that kind of info with someone they've just met.


  10. Ah, Key West. Make sure you check out their beautiful sunsets.

    Lynnette Labelle

  11. Authors are mostly freaks?! I wondered why people always look at me funny! I guess I would be a questionable companion at a power hitter luncheon. I'm vegetarian and an environmentalist, and the concept of business dining leaves much to be desired in both arenas. Yeah. Hand me my "I'm a Freak, Ask Me How" t-shirt and I'll be on my way!


  12. I'm looking for a t-shirt that says, I'm a Freaky Author, Take Me to Lunch.

    Lynnette, we saw a beautiful sunset tonight. We were standing on the pier. Would have liked to have been out on one of the sailboats or on the humongous boat with the helicopter on back, though.

    Jane, I'm going to look for Blue Heaven! I would think Key West would be the place to get authentic Key Lime Pie.

  13. Excellent post and yes, writers are not salesmen, which is why it might be a good idea to have an agent who is! Or to learn the art of the subtle sell...

  14. Maybe a business background is a good thing for an author before the lunches so they don't hit on the agent... I have always been VERY well behaved during my business meals!

  15. I think the "Mel Flashman" in the article is probably Melissa Flashman at Trident. (I met and pitched to her at the Pen-to-Press conference. Very nice.)

  16. I'm looking for an agent who will take me to Key West! Hope y'all are having a great time! And get some VINEGAR on that sunburn. Yes, Vinegar. My daddy used to douse us with vinegar after we'd been in the sun too long. Don't know if it worked, but we smelled like Grandmother's slaw for days!


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