Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Ask an Agent Wednesday: Maximizing the Agent/Author Relationship

Ask an agent doesn't officially begin until the 24th, so today, we'll just talk about agents.

Today's topic is: how to get the most out of your agent relationship.

How many of you have asked around about an agent, only to find some folks who rave about their agent, and others who have nothing positive to say about the same agent. How is that possible? How can the agent give one author so much attention and apparently ignore the other?
That's what you need to find out.

When you come across an author who had a bad experience with an agent, ask more questions. What were the author's expectations coming into the relationship? How did the agent fail to meet those expectations? Were those expectations discussed at the start, or did the author/agent just march into the relationship without discussing the small details? When the author began to feel dissatisfied, did she communicate her concerns in an organized, professional way and give the agent an opportunity to either explain, change her approach, or come to a compromise, or did the author simply get aggravated and eventually leave?

These are important questions to ask. No one is perfect. No one is flawless. Including agents. A good working relationship involves the same skills it takes to make a marriage work. Communicate your needs. Let her know when she is doing great, let her know when you feel like you need something different from her. Don't sit and pout. Step up and control your career by being an active member.

I have heard of authors with the same agent. Some say the agent does career planning. Others say she doesn't. When I ask the authors who say she doesn't if they have ever initiated a career planning discussion, they admit they didn't. The ones who have those discussions are the ones who email their agent to set up periodic career-planning phone calls.

Bottom line? The key to an effective agent relationship is doing your research beforehand, and once you've signed on, keep the communication lines open. If you're unhappy, tell your agent why and express what you need from her. Chances are good that if she's capable of giving it to you, she will, and you both will be happy. If she can't, then you'll know soon enough, and you'll be able to walk away with both of you knowing that it simply wasn't a match.

Good luck!

Upcoming Q&A guests: This Friday, the uber talented Stephanie Feagan of Bombshell fame. Next Friday will be Mary Kennedy, hugely successfully YA author with more than twenty books under her belt, most recently Confessions of an Almost Movie Star from Berkeley Jam. If you have specific questions you'd like me to ask them, shoot me an email and let me know!!

Over and out!


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