from Agent Manners files

Dear Agent Manners:

I’ve recently acquired an agent with whom I am happy. This agent was not my first choice but is working hard to sell my book. My first choice agent came very close to accepting my manuscript and was very complimentary to my work but ultimately decided to pass.

My question is this: I’m planning to attend a conference where this “first choice” agent will be attending. I’d like to thank the agent for the very encouraging words and support offered to me at the time I was searching for an agent. Do I go up to that agent and say “Hi, don’t know if you remember me but you were very encouraging about my manuscript and I just wanted to thank you in person for your kind words.” Or do I leave it? Since I’m no longer looking for an agent – and the agent will be busy enough at the conference, I’m sure – is it better for me not to acknowledge that brief ‘close but no cigar offer’ at all?

Wanting to do the right thing


Dear Wanting:

First, congratulations on finding an agent that is making you happy. May you enjoy a long and fruitful career together.

Like writers, and indeed, anyone else, agents love to hear when they have done a good job or made a positive contribution. While it might feel slightly awkward to you, I think an agent would appreciate a friendly face and kind words at a conference (those can be so exhausting). The way you’ve phrased your intended dialogue above is about the best one might expect. Naturally, do try to make sure your timing is convenient for all involved. And keep it professional.

Best of luck.

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