What an Agent Should and Shouldn’t do at a Conference

Posted on 06/23/2011


Okay, we’ve all seen the “what to do at a writers’ conference” written by literary agents for writers. We need to turn this around and list what the agent should and shouldn’t do at a conference.

Since I am the Director of this year’s Dallas Fort Worth Writers’ Conference, (and a writer) I decided to make a list. Because everyone loves a list.

Here we go:

1. Do introduce yourself. Writers probably don’t know you’re an agent, and imagine how freaked they will be when they’ve been complaining to you how their IBS has been acting up for the past ten minutes.

2. Don’t go into the restroom without looking over your shoulder. Most writers take an FBI “How to Tail Someone” class before the conference. Be afraid.

3. Do ask what the writer writes. Seriously, the writer just took a huge shot of courage to actually step up to you and start a conversation.

4. Don’t let one writer hog all your time. If he won’t shut up, punch him in the face and move on.

5. Do raise your hand and announce “I’m a literary agent!” during open times of the conference. It’s like throwing chum in the water.

6. Don’t latch on to one editor and not let her get away. We have special “Editor Jaws of Life” and we’re fully trained in their operation. Don’t make us use them.

7. Do feel free to get on a lot of elevators, for no other reason than to test writers’ elevator pitch skills. Try shorter and longer elevator rides to put those writers through their freaking paces.

8. Don’t eat. Really. You know what happens when an agent stays in one spot for too long. Pain. Suffering. Chatty Kathys.

9. Do drink. And I mean lots of alcohol. Hell start when you wake up, and don’t stop until you leave. Writers love drunk agents. Nothing better than you waking up with a room full of manuscripts you don’t remember requesting.

10. Don’t cluster together with other agents. That’s like gazelles hunkering together while the lions slowly circle, licking their chops.

11. Do have fun!*

If you follow all these easy tips, you should have a great conference and find lots of eager writers launching their work at you!

Peace out, and watch out for the Big Yellow Chicken.

*Please note, the final tip was simply a generic last attempt, since that seems to be at the end of EVERY list I ever see for writer conference tips. “Have fun!”  Jiminy Christmas!