Each quarter, Jane Dystel asks all of the employees of DGLM to outline their goals for the coming months, then look back at the previous quarter and see how our projections matched with reality. It is an exercise that I find a bit wrenching; goals are always due at some moment when I’ m deep in the trenches of an edit, dashing between meetings, or returning phone calls. Taking time to step away from the computer/Kindle/phone and study the big picture—my performance and the “portfolio” of projects I represent— is always a little jarring.
But inasmuch as I find this difficult or sobering, it is nevertheless tremendously useful to look at my efforts holistically, to stratagize about stewarding my time more wisely, whether it’s tackling my e-mail inbox in designated periods (because I could spend all day, every day, answering e-mails and never do another thing) or the distribution of the conferences I attend (I should avoid doing three in the same quarter; to that end, I apologize to all those patient writers who pitched me in Atlanta, Boston and Austin and are still waiting to hear back—I am working my way through. ) I’m not much of a subscriber to The Secret-style philosophy that writing something down will magically make it so, but writing down goals helps force me to clarify them, and looking backward over the previous quarter helps me note what’s working (or not) and adjust course accordingly.
I adore my clients and their projects—there’s a multitude of reasons I signed each one—but the exercise in goal-setting also calls attention to the deficits in my list, the genres and projects I don’t often do. For example, I’d like to take on more love stories. It need not be a romance novel (I represent a work of narrative history, Bill Lascher’s EVE OF A HUNDRED MIDNIGHTS, that captures the whirlwind romance and perilous honeymoon of two WWII correspondents.) I’d also like to do more literary mystery in the vein of books I already represent—Beth Hahn’s THE SINGING BONE or Christopher Yates’ BLACK CHALK—but also a proper detective novel, think Tana French. I’d also like to see more humor/pop-culture like Therese Oneill’s UNMENTIONABLE: A VICTORIAN LADY’S GUIDE TO SEX, MARRIAGE AND MANNERS. My appetite for science, history, women’s issues and big-think economics is constant, but I’d like to expand my palate with outdoor adventure narrative, graphic or comic novels or grounded fantasy….in short, I look forward to hearing from you!