The Agent Wrangler

Prior to attending the 2013 DFW Writers Conference, I was asked to be an Agent Wrangler. The job description was simple enough. Pick an agent that you’re interested in working with and take care of them while they’re here. This primarily consisted of transporting them to and from the airport, making sure they were fed and hydrated, and above all, making sure they had a great experience.

I perused the agent list and chose Michelle L. Johnson of Inklings Literary Agency for no other reason than she represented the genre of Magical Realism and I still wasn’t sure of what the difference was between it and Urban Fantasy.

After I picked her up at the airport, I didn’t really know what to expect. Sitting in my car was a real, live literary agent, someone who could help me achieve my greatest dreams or crush them, just as easily.

We chatted idly for a bit before she asked me about my manuscript. Admittedly, I wasn’t 100% prepared to pitch my story, but I soldiered on and fought through it. When I finished, she did something I didn’t quite expect.

She critiqued me.

We walked through my pitch and she helped me tighten it up, moving my hook to the first 10 words, cutting out redundancies and unnecessary phrases and shortening it to a grand total of four sentences.

Now, it’s a streamlined thing of beauty.

During the rest of the weekend, I spent a lot of time with Michelle, acting as her personal assistant, making sure she was where she needed to be when she needed to be there and coordinating the ‘unofficial’ pitch sessions when writers found her in the halls or at the cocktail reception.

On Monday morning, before her flight home, we had a chance to talk about the conference experience as a whole.

“This is what aspiring writers don’t understand,” she told me. “This is why it’s important to attend conferences and meet with agents face to face. You and I’ve met now. We’ve become friends and because of that, I want to read your manuscript.”

“Yeah,” I responded sarcastically. “But what happens when it sucks?”

She smiled. “Then I’ll tell you how it sucks and you can fix it so it doesn’t suck anymore.”

How many agents have offered you that helpful bit of knowledge?

I’ve now attended two DFWCons. Both of them were wonderful experiences. My first one was great because I learned a lot from the classes I attended and I got to meet my favorite author, James Rollins. But this one was more important because I’ve gained something I didn’t think I would.

I now have a personal relationship with a literary agent, one who’s offered me representation because of that relationship. And being a decent writer didn’t hurt either.

Peace, Love and Naked Bunnies…

--David Justin, DFWWW Member since 2010

(David, a mild-mannered minion for the Evil Galactic Empire by day and an ink-slinging raconteur with 828 Web Design by night, can be found on Twitter under @davidcambron and online at

photo credit: Nuwandalice

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