How Not to Impress an Agent – Proverbs 22:1

Conspiring with my roommate, Jenni Brummett, we scampered down the long carpeted hallway, trying to keep our voices low. Though it was near midnight, we were energized by the friends we’d left back in the hotel room (and probably the cookies they fed us). They’d insisted we go and try to sign up for an appointment with an agent they thought might be a good fit.

Take advantage of opportunities

Jenni Brummet KD at summerconf 2015crop

At the Oregon Christian Writers summer coaching conference in Portland there are dozens of opportunities to rub shoulders with publishing professionals who are seriously interested in meeting aspiring authors.

They even sit next to me at lunch.

The lobby was quiet, the coffee shop closed down. The OCW placard leaned forlornly on its easel, reminding me I should be in bed. The clipboard I sought sat among thirty or so others, lined up on the deserted table. As Jenni straightened them up I wrote my name in the last available slot.

Dealing with humiliation

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1 ESV).

The next morning, engrossed in the coaching class taught by my current favorite best-selling author, I realized I’d missed my agent appointment. I wouldn’t even be late – she was already shaking hands with the next person on her list!

When the class ended, I bee-lined it to the clipboard and crossed out my name. I hoped it merely looked like a cancellation and not a no-show. Then I second-guessed my lack of honesty and couldn’t undo it. Maybe she hadn’t seen the clipboard at all.

An hour later I stood behind her at the lunch buffet. She turned and recognized my name on my neck tag. “We had an appointment today,” she said.

Gulp. “Yes, we did, and I’m sure I’ve ruined my reputation with you.”

The agent assured me she understood there were many opportunities to change direction at writers conferences. I apologized and appreciated her kindness, but this was NOT the kind of impression I wanted to make.

Don’t be afraid 

“The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life” (verse 4).

I could have hidden away or pretended it didn’t happen. I could have grieved that I’d destroyed all hope of working with an agent who may have been a perfect working partner, but I wouldn’t allow myself to become obsessed with stuff like that.

Wanting to humble myself, I sat in on her afternoon workshop. I passed out her study materials. I contributed to the discussion and encouraged her. Afterwards, I promoted another author, helping her get to know him better.

I think she’ll remember me if we ever have a discussion about my career. She looked straight at me when she explained how observant she needed to be as an agent. Maybe one day I’ll know what she observed.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

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