Traversing the Agent-Author Relationship (Like a Pro)

So, you finally have an agent.

You’ve spent years, wrote multiple stories, worked your butt off, and the long awaited day has finally arrived.

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But now what? Some authors find that figuring out the agent author relationship is a little trickier than they’d anticipated. It’s hard to go from idolizing someone for so long to working with them as partners. But you’re a professional now, dang it! It’s time to act like it.

So here’s some Do’s and Don’ts.

Do tell your agent about other publishing contracts that come up, even if they don’t have to do with what you were signed for. This is something that comes up often with freelancers or when a past publishing contract needs to revised or anything like that. Before you sign it, send it to your agent, just in case. You don’t want there to be any clauses that might get in the way of future publishing contracts. This sort of thing is what your agent is for. Use them!

Do ask your agent about the process from here and expectations. Every agent will be a little different, and so you can’t always compare how your agent does something with how your friend’s agent does something. But if you have established clear cut expectations and you know what to expect, you can feel more at ease and worry less.

Do talk to your agent about your next book ideas. Some agents will want you to work on whatever you feel drawn to. Others will want you to really try to hone your brand and focus on a certain genre. They might also be able to give you some insight into the marketability of an idea.

Do ask for details about where your manuscript is being submitted if you want to know that. This is your book. It’s your career. It may not be the way your agent usually does things, but if you really want to know your sub history, you have a right to that information.

Don’t bombard your agent constantly with emails. By all means, ask important questions and get the information you need. But remember that your agent has other clients, other responsibilities, queries to sift through, etc, etc.

Do ask for an estimated turn around time when you hand in revisions or a new manuscript to your agent. This is helpful to both you and your agent. It makes it so you can relax a bit. There’s so much waiting in this industry, you don’t want to be anxiously awaiting feedback if your agent isn’t going to get around to it for another two weeks. It’s nice to know that. This will also save your agent frantic emails from you when you convince yourself they must hate it, you, everything. 🙂

Do be flexible. Things come up in your agent’s life. They might have to delay reading your manuscript for a few days, or even a week or two. Be understanding. Don’t freak out. If you continue to be delayed and delayed and delayed, though, you may need to have a talk with your agent.

Don’t send your work with a bunch of apologies or caveats to your agent. Send it with confidence.

Don’t allow yourself to be treated poorly. Your agent is your partner. If they continually make you feel stupid, lower than, ignored, condescended to, or like you’re ungrateful and whining for asking normal questions, it maybe time to find a new agent. Your agent is your partner. Remember that.

Do let your agent know you appreciate them. Send them a card or a gift. Appreciation is never wrong.

Good luck on the next leg of your journey!

Amanda grew up in Southwester Wyoming, but since then has lived all over the country. She now resides in central California with her husband and three children. When she is not writing middle grade fiction or homeschooling her children, she’s reading, gardening, or knitting.

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