Thursday, September 06, 2007

Thursday Q & A

Good Morning everyone! Elaine here, checking in for the daily dose of Thursday Q&A. This week I'm going to focus everyone a bit, I've got a pre-planned topic all picked out. At conferences and speaking engagements I get a lot of questions about what our job is really like. So, today, lets try to focus the Q&A's on the realities of what we do. What types of questions do you all have about what really goes on in the day to day, behind the scenes, here at TKA? First five questions . . .


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Elaine,

Thanks for answering questions today. I've got one for you. How do you prioritize your work for the day? Do certain tasks always come first before all others? Or is it a matter of which pile is about to tip over? I'm just curious. Once I thought about it, agencies need to juggle several tasks. I'm just wondering if there is a pattern to how you tackle it all.


Thursday, September 6, 2007 at 12:13:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Ah... I feel so special here 'cuz I actually go to see what you do!) Wouldn't you love to tell people that your driver drops you off around 10:30 just in time for you sit on your lovely porch leisurely chatting (only about glamorous stuff), then you lunch with your team at the Blue Willow Inn, and chat more (with a break for your daily massage and pedicure)until your driver whisks you home once again? But maybe you should mention the hundreds of emails, phone ringing off the hook, blackberry's chirping etc. etc...
Thanks for your Q&A blogs...

Thursday, September 6, 2007 at 12:50:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Katie said...

Your topic reminded me of a question I've had.

Do agents play a part in the marketing for a new book? I've heard that it's the author's responsibility... I've heard that the big publishers have budgets for it, and I've read agent's request that the author include marketing plans in their query letter.

Sooo... if agents DO have a hand in it, or help guide the author's efforts, I'm wondering exactly what that looks like!

Thursday, September 6, 2007 at 2:02:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Anonymous - Prioritization is key. Multi-tasking is our life. There are certain tasks that we try to keep somewhat of a grip on everyday, obviously responding to clients questions is first and foremost on a daily basis. We also try to stay on top of our submission piles or they will get so huge it is impossible to dig out. For the most part however I find that things tend to come in cycles. Certain days I will have 6 phone calls that I MUST make before noon, other days I have six client readings that I feel I must respond to before the weekend. Often times I feel like a hamster in that giant wheel, no matter how hard I peddle I never get ahead because there are constantly more things piling into the ole' inbox.

But in summary, we stay on top of our job and ahead of the game by balancing our piles, making sure that no one is ever reaching that topple point, all the while keeping the others at bay as well - skim a few queries off the top here, and a few client manuscripts there. Deals and negotiations trump out however. Regardless of what else may be going on, those tasks are the exception to the rule, they get the #1 spot!

Thursday, September 6, 2007 at 2:25:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Natalie Damschroder said...

Wow, I actually got here before all five questions were asked! :)

Thanks for doing these. I look forward to them a great deal every week. :)

Can you talk about day-to-day communications with editors? Is it usually very businesslike, short and to the point? Or is there some social chit-chat in there, too? For existing relationships, do you and/or the editor ever save up all the things you want to discuss, make an appointment, and address several clients' issues at once? Or is there constant back-and-forth via e-mail and phone all day?

Thursday, September 6, 2007 at 2:44:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Keri Ford said...

Howdy, Elaine. How do you send a client’s manuscript off to editors? I’ve heard it’s different from unagented authors sending in submissions. So in my mind, I’m seeing anything from you just scratch a note in the top corner saying, ‘you’ll like this’, to fixing a whole package thing with marketing ideas, author bio, and everything else to make your client look like the blue ribbon hen.

Thanks for answering!

Thursday, September 6, 2007 at 3:36:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Deanna -
You make me dream of bon bons, lattes, and fried green tomatoes - if only each day could be a vacation of that caliber :)

Thursday, September 6, 2007 at 4:01:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Hi Katie,

This is a question that is important for everyone to have in the forefront of their mind during an agent hunt. The face of marketing is changing everyday within this industry. At one point in time it was pretty standard for agencies to remain completely hands off of an author’s marketing plans. The responsibilities were left to the individual and their publisher.

Well, times are a changin’! Here at the Knight Agency we have a full time marketing department. While we are still in the process of developing the department’s abilities to best match their qualifications and specialties, we do have someone that is available to help answer any client questions. I know that several other agencies are offering similar services to their clients, some as a part of the whole package (like TKA) or some for a small additional fee. Our marketing staff has assisted clients with a HUGE variety of promotion opportunities. Some of the areas we have helped with include: building a website, creating an e-group, designing promotional graphics, setting up stock signing tours, creating chat opportunities, advising in galley mail-outs, and many other ventures along these lines.

Many times it can be next to impossible to get promises from publishers up front about the marketing help that a budding author can expect. We try to head off this problem from the get-go with an always open door for promotional assistance.

Thursday, September 6, 2007 at 4:15:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Keri –

Another great question. You guys are on it today! A great way to round out the comments as five o'clock is fast approaching!

This is different from case to case. The name of the game is building excitement. In many cases with our established relationships we will shoot an email or make a quick phone call to an editor just saying we have the most amazing thing they have to read RIGHT now. This is where I will bring it all back to networking and rapport. In most cases if an established agent insists that something is knock-down amazing the editor will jump on it. If an agent has established a pattern of matching tastes with an editor, the editor will most likely move this to the top of their pile.

In other cases it is a more formal situation where you put together this kick-butt submission packet containing quotes, pitches, promo, awards, anything to make the client stand out. And you just ask them if they are interested. If it is something along the lines of what they are adding to their list by the sounds of your packet, they'll take a peek.

Other times we meet with editors face to face and talk up our "portfolio" of current projects. Verbal excitement during a face-to-face can be HUGELY effective. Plus you have a chance to say all those things that you really want to say about an author that you can't say in an email without sounding like you're full of it.

So basically what you're seeing in your mind, yeah it is that, and millions of other methods of attack!

Thursday, September 6, 2007 at 4:34:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Elaine Spencer said...

Natalie you win the prize- Deidre really wanted to answer this question so she is going to chime in shortly. Don't worry, we didn't forget about you! As for me, I'm out ~ everyone have a wonderful evening!

Thursday, September 6, 2007 at 4:36:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Natalie Damschroder said...

Ooooh, awesome!

And thanks for the answers to all the other very interesting questions, Elaine!

Thursday, September 6, 2007 at 4:56:00 PM EDT  

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