I have another five or so hours before I’m due to head out the door to LAX for my flight down to Australia tonight. Suitcase-check. Vacuum-check. Pool-check. Make sure those leftover beans and quinoa are eaten before I leave the house for two weeks and don’t come back to a house all stunk up with the reek of abandoned three-week-old-beans-check…aaaaand double check because abandoned three-week-old-beans smell worse than Beelzebub’s gas during an ulcer attack.
So I figured that I had the chance to query one more agent before I left. Agent #34 wasn’t on my list. In short that means she wasn’t listed in the Jeff Herman guide. But I just finished an historical novel called Heyday. I thought it was set in London and French-revolution Paris in the 184os…and it was but then the action crossed the pond to New York and then traversed the continental to gold-rush California. It was a bit slow to start but I ended up really enjoying it.
When I got to the last page and started browsing through the acknowledgments, I noticed the author’s first thank-you went to his agent. A-ha! So I googled her name because if she successfully shepherded to publication one novel set largely in California of the past, it seemed possible that she’d be open to shepherding another one.
It didn’t take long for me to track her down (really, what did we do before Google…?) at…whoa! Hello William Morris. In case you don’t know what that is, let me say that they’re one of the biggest entertainment agents in the known world. A quick look at the roster of talent they represent is enough to send even the most ambitious wannabes into paroxysms of envy: Burt Bacharach, Bernadette Peters, Aretha Franklin, Liza (…and if you need to ask “Liza who?” please leave the room immediately), Neil Sedaka, Jethro Tull, Smokey Robinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Crosby…the list goes on and on. And those are just the entertainers. It’s a vast organization encompassing singers, comedians, speakers, celebrities, tours, musicals and, more importantly writers.
Turns out #34 agented Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt which is a book I LOVED and, incidentally, has sold nearly 3 million copies in hardcover alone. So clearly this agent is not short of a client or two. But, to her credit, on a number of agent-query websites I use as research tools, she says that she is open to finding and working with “emerging” writers (I love that expression…it sounds so much more substantial than “aspiring” or “wannabe”, don’t you think?) and gives her out her email address.
So today, having turned the leftover quinoa and beans into a surprisingly delicious pre-flight soup, I sent off my query to Ms. William Morris which leaves me four hours to make sure that no other potential science-experiment-gone-terribly-terribly-wrong is lurking in the back of the fridge like a rejected Spielberg movie pitch.