Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The center of the universe: Boise?

I've had a bunch of authors contact me recently about picking an agent (they actually got offers from more than one) and if I had any advice on who to select. Well, in most of the cases, all of the agents were excellent, so I really couldn't give much feedback.

But then the issue of where the agent was located came into play--and two authors said they would probably go with the one located in New York (vice not New York). Since this is something that Kristin Nelson had blogged about recently, I thought I would add my half buck as well.

Location of an agent really means nothing. At all. Granted there are still a lot of agents who lunch quite a bit with editors, but the industry is really changing. As the old school agents and editors retire and *sniff* pass on, the younger breed is bringing a new tone to the publishing world.

I remember an agent that had offered me representation for my first novel. She wasn't that old, but she was definitely old school. She kept telling me how when she made a submission, her books were noticed because she packaged them up in a nice, attractive box. She just kept saying this over and over. The box, the box, the box. "When my box arrives. . . " I couldn't take it. This was a gal who wanted nothing to do with the Internet. Everything we did in the early days was sending and faxing pages back and forth. It was bizarre. Respected as she is, I’m glad I never signed with her.

Now--according to the folks I deal with in NY--very few folks want paper at all anymore. And all I can think is how that poor agent has a crapload of unused boxes in some self-storage place on Staten Island.

Where was I?

Location, right. So it really does not matter where an agent is in this day and age. Sure, schmoozing is still important, and certainly the point of BookExpo as well as the London and Frankfurt Book Fairs—not to mention conferences. But living in New York to pitch books? 99% of this stuff--pitching, negotiating, editing--is done over the phone and email anyway. You don't see writers moving to New York to get closer to their editors, right?

So bottom line: An agent living in New York certainly can't hurt. But a determining factor? Not in a million years. An agent's reputation is the same regardless of their home address.