A while back, I talked about what I was looking for in a prospective agent (mind you, this was before I had either of my agents).  I firmly believe that I (and probably many artists) are lousy at placing a monetary value on our work.  For example, for all of our calls for professional rates, the minimum figure has remained at about five cents a word since about the days of Edgar Allan Poe.

All that said, there are holes in my representation, so I keep my ears open when approached.  In this case, I was approached by my oldest son.  He made his pitch.  I listened:

Me:  So you’re interviewing for the position of my business manager.  What makes you think you’d be good for this position?

My Oldest:  Well, when you bought that pen that had your book on it, you should be selling those and getting a percent of that.

Me:  Wait, are you actually talking about merchandising rights?

My Oldest:  Uh huh.  And you need better merchandise.

Me:  What sort of things would you roll out as my business manager?

My Oldest:  Toys.  Maurice Broaddus dolls.  [Mentioning this idea to my agent, he wondered aloud what the marketability of an (in)action figure dressed in his underwear with optional Riesling accessories would be]

Me:  What sort of other business opportunities could you get for me?

My Oldest:  Speaking.*  You need to do more book promotion.  [Somewhere out there, Chesya Burke is yelling “See?  I’m not the only one who’s saying that!”]

Me:  Any other ways you can think of to make money for me?

My Oldest:  You need to get 1% of all copies of your book that you sell.

Me:  I get 7%.

My Oldest:  In that case, you need to get at least 10% of all copies of your book that you sell.

Me:  That’s my boy.  You will be considered for the position.**

*I actually did put him to the test with this.  I was approached to speak at a local church about writing.  I was quoted a speaking fee.  I took the offer to My Oldest who promptly demanded $200,000.  The pastor came back with “how about a percentage of the ticket sales.”  I may put him in charge of all of my negotiations.

**My Youngest hates to be left out of anything.  Our interview went a little differently:

Me:  Do you even know what an agent does?

My Youngest:  No.

Me:  Do you have any connections in the publishing industry?

My Youngest:  No.

Me:  Are you good with people?

My Youngest:  No.

Me:  Can you convince them to buy my books?

My Youngest:  No.

Me:  What qualifications do you bring to this position?

My Youngest:  I love you.  And I like your books.

Me:  You’re not even old enough to read them.

My Youngest:  So?  They look good.

Me:  You know, you DO sound like you’d find a perfect home in the publishing industry…

[photos by Larissa Johnson]