A day in the life of an agent
Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
When I first became an agent sixteen years ago, I envisioned myself representing best-selling projects that would bring in hefty paychecks for the rest of my life. That meant I could sip refreshing drinks accessorized with little umbrellas and sigh happily when I thought about the Jag in my garage.
That daydream disappeared a long time ago! But don’t you wonder what agents do all day since we claim we aren’t lounging around with our feet up on our desks?
Here’s a peek into one of my days last week.
I start out the work day with a quick social media check-in: read some tweets, write some tweets; skim my Facebook wall, make comments where appropriate and write a little something; see what’s happening on our blog.
I then make the phone calls I assigned myself the day before. I usually have editors or clients I need to discuss projects with. On this particular day, I have several phone appointments. One is with a publisher and a marketing director set up in response to concerns I had about the marketing plan for a client’s upcoming release.
Another call is with an editor who likes a client’s proposal but thinks it could be improved if the author implemented the editor’s suggestions. I take prolific notes and call my client to brainstorm ways to respond to the editor.
Next up on the schedule: a conference call with a client who sent me five pages of single-spaced ideas for her next project. Talk about an idea machine! We have a stimulating conversation as we discuss which concepts appeal to her most and which ones I think are the best match for the market and her brand.
I have three contracts to negotiate awaiting my attention. Since working on contracts can quickly devolve into nap time (“Whereas the party of the first part assigns to the party of the second part”…ZZZZZZ), I tackle this work while I’m still fresh.
During my work on the contracts, I receive a phone call from a film producer, who wants to update me on his plan to shop a client’s projects to the studios. That’s pretty fun stuff!
I also get a phone call from one of the other Books & Such agents who has a client in crisis. A major disagreement with her editor has boiled over and must be resolved. We brainstorm the best way to address this tricky situation. I so appreciate that all the Books & Such agents are collaborators. We do lots of brainstorming to help each other with the gnarly publishing issues that pop up.
Emails haven’t been attended to yet today; so after going over the contracts and sending in revisions to the publishers, I plow my way through the approximately 100 emails I receive each day. Several hours later, I emerge from the email pile-on having ridden an emotional roller-coaster that can take me all the way from: “Here’s an offer for a three-book contract” to “Great news! I just found out my book is on the best-seller list!” to “We won’t be offering your client another contract with our publishing house” to “My publisher just rejected my contracted manuscript; now what I do!?” to “Here’s a list of ten titles for my book. Which do you like better?”
In the waning light of day, I prepare a proposal to submit. This requires making sure every salable point in the project is highlighted appropriately; the project is focused just right to meet the market’s need; the author’s platform is adequately highlighted; the book’s structure is solid; the writing is strong; the title, hook and book description are honed; ideas for endorsements are strong; comparisons to other titles are fair and well thought through. I’ll do a fair share of massaging on most proposals, and at the end of the day, it will either go back to the author for more work or be ready to submit.
Deciding on which editors to submit to and creating the email that make each editor eager to open up the attachment becomes the next task.
At this point, I’m ready for a break so I’ll take an hour or two to make dinner and eat. Then I’m generally back at work, closing out the day by reading material by potential new clients or one of my author’s completed manuscripts.
Round about 10 o’clock, I’m starting to fade. That’s when I slip into bed and close out the day by picking up my Kindle and reading either a novel for pleasure or a manuscript. This particular night I’m reading an unpublished novel by a potential client whose style I really like. I get involved and stay up too late.
Thus endeth a typical day for me. No umbrella drinks, no Jag in the garage. But plenty of stimulating work and pretty great people to work with. Ah, that’s the life.
A day in the life of an agent. Click here.
Take a peek into an agent’s day. Click here.