lot of folks have been asking how it came about that I joined MacGregor
Literary, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to introduce myself a
bit and let people in on how I went from writer to agent.
I was keeping my head down
writing articles for a living, working on my novel, volunteering with
my local Christian writers’ summer conference, and trying to decide
whether I had what it took to write and publish a memoir.
I rounded up the courage to send
my idea to Chip, and he replied, asking if we could get together to
talk. That began a series of discussions in which we talked about my
future as a writer, my background in publishing, and my employment
history with non-profits running fund-raising campaigns, managing
volunteers, and running speakers’ bureaus. During our discussions, Chip
asked if I would be willing to launch a speakers’ bureau to serve his
authors, and within a few months, Command Performance Speakers’ Bureau
was up and running. It wasn’t long, though, before Chip told me I had
what it took to be a good agent. Who was I to argue? I promptly
responded to his invitation to join his agency, and haven’t looked back
except to ask one question: “What are the qualities required to make
one a ‘good’ agent?”
It takes lots of things, of
course. But, I’ll talk about one key quality that doesn’t get covered a
lot in articles from or about agents. It’s one Chip said he recognized
in me right away.
It’s a hard thing to define. So,
I went to the good ol’ Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary,
where I found a pretty applicable definition.
Instinct: a natural or inherent
aptitude, impulse, or capacity, as in “she had an instinct for
the right word.”
I gotta say, when I read that
particular usage example, it made me smile. I’ve been told all my life
I have a way with words: the ability to find just the right one when
others can’t; the capacity to frankly state what others are afraid to.
And I have to confess it’s been mentioned more than once that someday
“that mouth” of mine was going to get me into trouble.
I found it an interesting
exercise to look at the words that comprise this definition of
instinct. If you care to learn more about me, read on.
aptitude. Hmm. I’ve learned a few things along the way regarding my
aptitude, starting back in high school when that
penciling in all those little ovals, pointed out my love for adventure,
tolerance of solitude, and ability to figure things out for myself. At
the time, the career counselor told me the results of my test revealed
that that I should become a forest ranger. Well, if changing toilet
paper in outhouses and collecting camp fees was what I should have been
doing all these years to find happiness, I blew it a long time ago!
I guess the idea of wearing a
uniform appealed to me, for not long after high school, I joined the
Marine Corps, and I passed the aptitude assessments required for
getting me into radio operators school—a position that the recruiter
assured would be the first step toward a high level communications
position at the Pentagon. Ready for a shock? He lied. No Pentagon.
Instead, I learned how to assemble, disassemble, pack, and clean field
(analog) radios, so if the need ever arose I’d be amongst the first in
line to secure a battle station in combat. Thanks a lot, Sergeant
Since getting out of the Marine
Corps, I’ve stayed far, far away from any thought of aptitude tests,
but in my subsequent careers with non-profits, publishing, and writing,
I’ve learned that I’m happiest when I’m productive, task oriented,
keeping my head down, and getting the job done, but I also crave
meaningful work, enjoy interaction, and am quite good with people.
How about impulse, then? Well .
. . I’m a planner by nature. Not someone my husband would call
spontaneous. But when I believe something will work, I’m never afraid
to go for it. Taking a chance on something I believe in comes easy for
me. I’m driven by it, actually. Having come from a long line of
entrepreneurs and bootstrappers, risk simply doesn’t scare me.
And capacity? Well, exactly what
the limit to my capacity is in regard to how many authors I can
responsibly and professionally handle, I’m still figuring out. But, I
have learned that I can handle and juggle details beyond what I ever
imagined possible. And I can pack a carryon like a pro. And I can take
anything Chip dishes out. So if any of those things relate to what they
meant by capacity, I think I’m covered.