Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with students at the University of Tulsa. The screenwriting program organizes this Agents’ Summit biannually to give students, faculty, and interested community members the chance to meet agents – real live agents! – and learn about the ins and outs of finding representation for your book, screenplay, or theatrical play.
Or, as the coordinating professor told me, “Now our students get to see that you aren’t scary!”
He continued, “We want them to take their work seriously and understand its potential. We want them to realize they can apply for internships! We want them to keep writing!”
The visit was a very inspiring experience – the campus was beautiful, downtown Tulsa is full of amazing coffeeshops and interesting museums, and most importantly, the students were so bright, interested, and creative. They asked smart, thoughtful questions, like “What one quality are you looking for most in a query?”* and “How much should I change my book to fit what is popular right now?”**
It was a great reminder that in the daily grind of answering emails, reviewing contracts, and evaluating proposals, I also get to work with gifted writers who love putting stories on paper and sharing them with readers. Even when it’s hard or lonely work, even when they have to be brave enough to share the results of that work with “not scary” agents like me! And it’s exciting to know that there are a bunch of young writers out there getting ready to follow in their footsteps.
What questions have you always wanted to ask a “real live agent”? What keeps you motivated to work on your writing when you get discouraged?
*We all said things on the variety of “Voice!” and “Characters we can’t forget about.”
**Not at all! It’s important to be familiar with your category and think about where you would find your readers…but it’s also important to write the best book you can write, based on the inspiration that’s driving you. Don’t chase the market – it might be gone by the time you get there, and then you’ll be stuck with a book you aren’t invested in.