Understanding Your Agent
Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
If you’ve been reading agent blogs for awhile, you’re aware that the agent-client relationship can be a wonderful, long-term, productive association. Like any important relationship, it’s not always easy — sometimes it takes work to make it succeed. It has a better chance of working if each of you has some understanding of what it’s like on the other side of the table.
We agents spend a lot of time with writers, always trying to learn more about what it’s like to be you. So today I want to give you a few tips that will help you understand what it’s like to be us:
…is not a mind reader. If you’re having an issue—if you feel the agent is inattentive, or you need more feedback or more frequent communication—it’s best if you let your agent know. They can’t fix a problem if they’re not aware of it.
…has dozens of clients, while you have one agent. Of course, we try to help you feel like you’re our only client, but you know that’s not true. There’s no excuse for poor communication skills or lack of timely interactions, but if you have a realistic picture of the situation, it’s easier to maintain reasonable expectations.
…wants to hear from you! My clients often start their calls or emails with, “I know you’re busy, I don’t want to take up too much of your time…” and I do appreciate how conscientious people are. But if I’ve agreed to rep you, then I WANT you to take up my time when you need to. So don’t hesitate to make contact.
…has your best interest in mind. Even when we give advice you don’t want to hear, even when we sometimes have to explain that the publisher is right, even when we can’t get you every last contract provision you’d like… we are still advocating for you.
…is probably an agent because of a genuine love for authors, books, and publishing. Don’t forget this basic truth! We are all on the same side. Agents exist to partner with, and advocate for, authors. It’s not an adversarial relationship, and if it is, it’s not working right. Agents aren’t in this business because they want to get rich – if money was the most important thing, they’d be doing something else. Like you, your agent appreciates the written word and wants to see great books published.
What are some hints you’d like to give agents so that they’ll understand what it’s like on YOUR side of the table?