Archive for April 2009

In defense of the literary agent   9 comments

I was briefly following a literary agent on Twitter who dispenses advice one day a month (I think it’s called #queryday). I’ve never heard of this person, but she has a substantial following.  I believe she’s addressing mostly people who are in search of an agent or a book deal.

One of her tweets hit me like an arrow –it was the last one I read before I removed myself from her followers. She said, An agent’s job is not to handhold or coddle or boost a writer’s self-esteem. An agent’s job is to sell the manuscript.” She put the declaration out there, as far as I could see it wasn’t in response to anything anyone asked.  I tweeted back (sort of jokingly), “Well then whose job is it to coddle the writer- the publicist, the editor, the husband?” And she shot back, It’s nobody’s job to coddle a writer. If a writer needs coddling, s/he’s in the wrong business.”

And to this I would like to say, “Wha-hat? WHAT????”  Who is more insecure and in need of consolation than a writer?  And what is this ‘not my job?’  I used to work as a clerk in an insurance company, it was my job to process death claims, it wasn’t my job to tell people that I was very sorry about the passing of their loved one and wait for half an hour while they looked for a working pen, but it was something I did anyway. I also used to change the water in the water cooler, which also wasn’t in the job description.

The thing that got me about this is that I have an agent who does all of that stuff that supposedly ”isn’t an agent’s job’.  And my agent is arguably the best and most desired literary agent in the business.

It’s true. I don’t generally call her up and say “nobody wuvs me.” Or “does my paperback make me look fat?” But when we’re talking about my work, I definitely whine and she consoles. Christ, there’s a lot of  getting slammed when you’re a professional writer, A LOT. Public and private.  Even great writers get it.  Rejected manuscripts, snotty reviews, readings where only two people show up (none of this has ever happened to me of course, but I’ve heard about it.)

I mentioned this particular tweet to my agent  because I’d wondered if I was the one who was off-base. Her response:  Horrified.  “Writers work alone,” she said,  “we are a kind of support line.”

And it’s not just my agent. I know a lot of other lit agents. They represent people who are just starting out and people who’ve been cranking out best-sellers year after year and these agents treats their clients the same way.  I mean there are certainly ones (like the Twitterer) who may not operate like that, but I would be wary of someone who announces that they don’t coddle.  Agents are there for writers in many ways –it is not just selling the ms.

I don’t know. I just think agents get a bad enough wrap, why give one to yourself?


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Posted April 24, 2009 by julieklam in Twitter

NO TITLE   1 comment

Here is a blog post of all of the beginnings of blog posts I never finished for one reason or another– someone needed something from me or I started boring myself or I got hungry. I pasted them together in a sort of Quilt of Nonsense. Enjoy!

Yesterday, I had the good fortune to attend the Broadway theatrical triumph “Max and Ruby” with my daughter’s kindergarten class. The show itself was a tour de force! This earnest portrayal of the life of a brother and sister bunny, Max and Ruby, tells the story of what happens when two bunnies want to do a performance for their Grandma. Let me tell you, nothing is as you’d expect. In my opinion, Max and Ruby will become the seminal bunny theatrical experience. Off stage, in the audience, there was a whole ‘nother show. At the start of the performance a voice came over the loudspeaker requesting that all cell phones be turned off. The mothers and fathers that chaperoned on the trip answered (silently) with a resounding “NO!” It was like a glorious sea of texting fireflies. Blackberrys! iPhones! ANYTHING not to have to watch the 45 minute performance. I did update my Facebook status once but other than that, I was rapt. Also, there was a big spider on stage and I had to take my daughter out until the coast was clear…..Yesterday I was organizing our dining room table that doubles for a crap dump. Underneath a million pictures of Mulan, Duck from Little Bear and Ariel, there are Christmas cards from 2007 and much of what we need to do our taxes. While I was cleaning and putting endless papers into piles for recycling, I came across three papers stapled together and folded. I opened it up and it was a resume for someone named Jerlil Parks. His address was near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. I e-mailed Paul to find out what it was. He said the guy was going through the subway saying he needed a job and if anyone thought they could help, he’d be happy to give him his resume….  I haven’t been able to work at all this week because my daughter’s on school vacation, I’m thinking of renting a kid for her to play with…. One of the things that’s great about writing is learning new words.  Even better is using words that you already knew but using them more betterly.  I feel my vocabulary has grown exponentially. And my ability to make up words? Kefadiblity!…. How many times does one have to throw up easter grass before realizing that it’s not a good idea to eat in the first place. Answer according to my dogs: No amount of times!….

Posted April 21, 2009 by julieklam in A Keeper

Writers and Readers in or near Greenwich, CT   Leave a comment

I will be “teaching” a master class called Memoir: Balancing Life’s Ups and Downs that will deal with pacing and humor in writing at the Greenwich Arts Council in association with Just Books in Greenwich, CT. Thursday, April 23rd  from 10:00 am -12:00 pm.

It’s a Master Class so expect to see me wearing a cap and gown and a monocle. I am actually really looking forward to this — I think it will be fun and educational!  (wink!)  There will be HANDOUTS!

Click her for the info, please please come!

Posted April 18, 2009 by julieklam in Uncategorized, Updates

Twitter Chat   Leave a comment

I am doing a Twitter Chat with the great Patrick Brown of Vroman’s bookstore on Tuesday, April 14th at 2 pm EST.  I am @julieklam  and Patrick is @vromans. I know, I know, it’s crazy martian talk!

Posted April 10, 2009 by julieklam in Twitter

NOW IN PAPERBACK! and READING!   Leave a comment

BIG NEWS! The hardcover of Please Excuse My Daughter – A Memoir went on a diet and it’s now in paperback.

Also, next week APRIL 14th: I will be reading with the great Arthur Phillips at the Pens Parentis After Work Reading Series
6pm-8pm
At the gorgeous upstairs library at Todd English’s newest NYC venue: The Libertine located inside the stunning new Gildhall Hotel at 15 Gold Street, NYC
http://www.penparentis.org/reading-series/reading-series.html

Posted April 8, 2009 by julieklam in Books

New York Times Magazine Lives April 5, 2009   11 comments

I wrote this piece about my four dogs. It’s funny, because it’s true!

By the way, here is Northeast Boston Terrier Rescue —my rescue group!

Posted April 4, 2009 by julieklam in Times