Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Buy your agent flowers. Or a box of cigars. Or both.

I spent the majority of my Memorial Day weekend sitting in the sun, reading PODs (both digital and print) in an effort to catch up. Maybe it was the unbearable heat, but I cannot believe what a bad streak I am on. I've read 92 horrible books in a row.

If you are blessed enough to have an agent--regardless of how influential he or she may be--give that person a gift. Or at least a hug.

Why? Because they spend countless hours sifting out decent books for a living. I can walk away anytime I want, but these professional folks depend on our trite, derivative ramblings to pay the bills. If my income was generated by finding hits among the misses, I 'd be completely insane by now.

Not to mention livid.

Man, let me tell you: You've got to have a serious love of books to be able to read (and get past) stuff like this:

"Tracy was a cool cucumber. She had ice running through her veins and the erect nipples to prove it."

I stopped on page four.

"Crayton Hurgenbotther was not the man you'd think he was."

Probably. But after reading Hurgenbotther seven times in the first two pages I really didn't care; the book closed itself.

"She was sweeter than cherry pie, and as I moved my mouth to her pie and tongued her with all my might, her true flavor rushed upon me, a flood of molasses syrup."

Okay. So this guy's girlfriend might come in handy down at IHOP. But wouldn't cherry pie be sweeter than molasses? The visual here is not good. Page seven was my last.

Do you see? Vetting is much like torture. I want you guys to pick up the phone and call your agents and thank them for doing this miserable job. Editors have it easy; everything they get has already been cherry-picked and they would (probably) never have to suffer through the examples I listed above--because an agent somewhere did his or her job and found something better.

Next time you finish a book you absolutely loved, the kind of book you rush to tell your friends about, thank an agent--because, other than writing the book, the agent did the hardest part: They found it.