Sunday, June 19, 2011

You'll Have To Talk To My Agent About That

For many, many years, I have operated as an independent, sad, lonely writer and illustrator of children's books.

I wrote my books, sent them off to publishers, and collected the many, many rejection letters that I used as cocktail napkins at the rejection parties that I used to host for myself.

But those bleak days days of rejection are over.

Now, I have an agent.

An agent is a person–typically a ferocious, heavily armed, lunatic with crazy Ninja skills, and secret mind-control powers–who, in exchange for a meager 20% of every penny you ever make for the rest of your life, will undertake the odious task of selling your books to publishers for you.

Now, when I get rejection slips, my agent will buy the cocktails.

At least, I assume that's how it works. I'll have to double check the contract's fine print.

I'm sad to have to report that my agent, Abi Samoun of the newly formed Red Fox Literary Agency, is neither ferocious, nor a lunatic. And, as far as I am aware, she is also completely unarmed; though her crazy Ninja skills are well known and widely feared in the publishing industry.

I am delighted to be working with her.

Abi was, until its recent closing, a hot-shot editor at Tricycle Press. I first met her after sending her a manuscript for a book I had written called, "Childhood Trauma #4: Give Auntie Lulu A Kiss". She called me and explained that Tricycle was not interested in my book. But she had another idea. How would I like to do a book that was full of childhood traumas?

I swooned and was immediately smitten with this deeply twisted editor. I spent the next few days in close conference with my wife, Kerri. We huddled on the back porch making lists and lists of bad things that could happen to kids.

"What are you two doing?" our children would ask.
"Making lists of all the awful things that could happen to you," I would cheerily call back.

Those were a quiet few days at our household.

Eventually, the list was complete, some initial sketches were sent, and Abi convinced her boss to buy and publish my book, Twelve Terrible Things.

I have no idea how she did it, but anyone who can convince a children's book publisher to publish a book that is nothing but two page spreads of horrible things happening to children, is a person to be reckoned with.

The book went on to earn a starred review in School Library Journal and a wonderful write-up by Lemony Snicket in The New York Times. It was also pulled off the shelves of several public libraries for being "unsuitable for children".

When Random House bought Tricycle Press, everyone at Tricycle was very excited. When Random House subsequently closed down Tricycle Press a few months later, some of the giddy excitement waned.

Abi, rather than being crushed by the wheels of Evil Corporate America, dusted herself off (I assume that she was dusty, but I have no proof of this), squared her shoulders (again, I am assuming this is what she did), and started her own literary agency.

Using her secret mind-control powers, Abi has gathered some of the greatest, most dazzling talent in the known universe and formed a group of writers and illustrators so amazingly wonderful that other literary agencies whimper and tremble with fear at the merest mention of Red Fox Literary.

Abi will also, unbeknownst to her, be able to get me out of any unpleasant task.

Kerri: Marty, will you please give me a hand with the dishes?
Me: I'll have to speak with my agent about that.

I can see no possible downside to this.

Unless Kerri gets herself an agent.


Red Fox Literary said...

You know, Marty, this is just the kind of thing well-functioning, responsible members of society worry about: deeply twisted creative types banding together and feeding off each other's dangerous ideas (i.e., children's books about childhood traumas). I include you in this dangerous band, and myself of course, but also, though I'm not certain he'd want to be part of this particular little club, Mr. Snickett. He was, after all, responsible for spreading the word about this questionable little project of ours. And now, you've inspired a new and likely similarly deranged idea: a sort of literary agency version of X-Men. I'll be the mind-controlling ninja agent, and you be the deranged illustrator who can control watercolor with a flick of his paintbrush. You can wear a scary clown outfit! It can be a comic book! All we have to do is figure out identities for the rest of the Red Fox gang! Are you in?!

marty said...

I'm in, Abi X. Let's do this!