10 Things to Expect From Your Agent
People are always asking me, What are the signs of a good agent? What should I expect? Always one to provide answers, here is my list of the 10 main things you should expect from your literary agent.
1. Expect your agent to have a cell phone from all four major carriers so no matter which one you have, you can talk for hours every day for free. Communication is key!
2. During contract negotiations, expect your agent to use whatever means necessary (i.e. bribes, white lies, threats, and crocodile tears) in order to extract every last penny from your publisher.
3. Expect your agent to shop your project for as many years at it takes to sell (up to 25 years or the death of the agent, whichever comes first). Publishing trends are cyclical after all.
4. Expect your agent to only be interested in the book you’re pitching right now. They don’t care about your entire career and don’t want to hear that you have other book ideas—at least until they’ve sold the one in their hands. (See #3.)
5. Expect to provide your agent with a list of the publishers you want them to submit your book to, as well as each editor’s name, email address, phone number, and most-frequented coffee shop. (You can’t assume they know this stuff just because they call themselves an agent.)
6. Expect that your agent will be totally money-focused and contract-minded. Agents don’t care about the craft of writing and most of them don’t really like to read anyway. It’s just business to them.
7. Expect your agent to charge you a fee for reading your work; another fee for offering any editorial advice; and a third fee for emailing that advice back to you. (Exception: The Really Good Agents prefer to simply bill you an inflated hourly rate just like a lawyer does.)
8. Expect that once they’ve sold your book, your agent will immediately un-friend you on Facebook and Twitter. (Until you have another book to sell.)
9. Expect your agent to spend their cut of the advance buying a full-page ad for your book in the New York Times. After all, isn’t that what an agent is for? Marketing?
10. Expect your agent to send you flowers, chocolate and other gifts at least once a week.
Oh, yeah… in case you haven’t caught on yet…
Go back and read 1 through 10—and understand that these are NOT what you should expect from an agent!
Tomorrow I’ll post the real list of What to Expect.
Rachelle Gardner, Christian literary agent, WordServe Literary Group, Colorado.