Ok, I don’t really ask that of an author ‘cos I don’t care. Authors date lots of editors and agents, and I know when I really want something that my feet tend to run faster than anyone else’s. It comes from chasing down the beagle when she dips into my stash of tequila. It’s assumed that authors are querying more than just one editor.
But if an agent tells me other editors are also dating their author, then I can’t help but be curious. Sure, I always go on the assumption the agent isn’t dating just me, but I can’t help but wonder if their breath is as daisy fresh as mine. Are they as nice? What do the other dates have that I don’t? Is their hair prettier than mine? And biggest of all, do I have a chance of getting kissed at the end of the night?
See, I know how hard it can be to outrun an agent when they’re flirting with other editors. Agents are born with britches full of those little Mexican jumping beans we used to buy in Tijuana, and they run at ninety mph, even in their sleep. And agents love to date around. They are rarely monogamous. That’s ok, neither am I. I date a lot of agents. As fun as dating around can be, my curiosity sometimes gets the better of me. See, they ask for exclusives from authors but hate to grant them to editors unless they feel they are going to buy the book. So agents are equal opportunity flirters.
I admit it; I want to know my competition, but I’m too smart polite to ask, no matter how much it kills me. I have to hope that I dance better and laugh at their silly jokes with more geniality than their other dates. It’s a goofy game we play.
Authors think it’s a good sign to be asked for an exclusive from an agent in the belief they have forsaken all others. In reality, an exclusive simply buys the agent some breathing space while they attend to more pressing matters. With a flick of the wrist, that work goes to the bottom of the reading pile. It’s not uncommon for an agent to ask who else an author is dating. Really, it’s none of their beeswax, so it’s up to you to tell them or not. We all want to know our competition. If Super Agent of the World X is reading the work, Super Agent of the World Y might pull out the “hey, wanna go steady for a month? How ’bout it, you and me?” How else can they get a possibly hot property off the market and still handle their huge In basket? It’s logistics, baby.
Personally, I don’t see how going steady for a month is advantageous to the author. This forces the author off the market while the agent decides if she wants to hold hands and take you home to meet Mom and Dad. At the end of a month, the agent may simply say, “sorry, babe, it’s not you; it’s me.”
So while I work very hard not to be jealous of my agent’s other dates, I know how the game is played and drink heavily. You, the author, on the other hand, may not be as savvy to the dating game. Be mindful that your request to go steady is to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to ask, “hey, what’s in it for me to go steady with your for a month? You have all the cards, and I have no guarantees you’ll like me in thirty days. You’ve lost nothing while I lost a month.” They may tell you to go blow, so you need to decide what is more important to you.
Ain’t this industry a hoot? Must dash off, I have a hot tamale waiting for me with promises of a fabulous platform and a foreword written by Stephen King. How can I resist? Does my hair look ok?