10 Ways to Be a Dream Client

1. Reveal that you’re related to Harper Lee and that she has finally decided to publish her second novel and she wants you to recommend a good agent, preferably someone you’ve worked with and whose first name starts with the letter “R.”

2. Make sure spellchek is on when writing.

3. Start a blog dedicated solely to celebrating your agent’s many gifts and talents. Here are a few suggested titles for your blog: “Rachelle Rocks”; “Brilliance, Personified”; “I Don’t Care if I Ever Get Published, It’s Honor Enough Just to be Represented by Rachelle.”

4. Stop crying long enough to repeat after me: Revisions make me a better writer. Revisions make me a better writer. Revisions…

5. Laundry day is Thursday. Just let yourself in with the key I keep in the flowerpot. And remember, don’t mix colors and whites. Thanks!

6. Write a novel with the depth of Gilead, the marketability of The DaVinci Code and the spiritual impact of Mere Christianity. (You have until next Tuesday.)

7. Realize that “building a platform” doesn’t require trips to Home Depot…unless your audience is men who like tools and you’re doing a series of in-store speaking engagements.

8. Have a collaborative spirit (i.e. offer to lend me your condo in Breckenridge during ski season).

9. Treat every rejection as a reason to celebrate. (Who doesn’t like lots of parties, right?)

10. Stop stalking me.*

Okay, I’m putting on my deadly serious hat now. Here’s the actual list.

10 Ways to REALLY Be a Dream Client

1. Write well.

2. Trust me; if you’re confused or doubting me, feel free to ask all the questions you want until you understand where I’m coming from.

3. Understand that when I give you editorial notes and request revisions… or when I say “I don’t think this is saleable”… I always have your best interest at heart. My goal is to sell a book, just like yours is. I’ll try not to let you put inferior work in the hands of editors. It will only damage both of our reputations.

4. Communicate with me. Ask questions; call for help when you need it; let me know when there’s a problem; share good news with me; update me periodically, even if I don’t ask for it.

5. If you’re going to fire me, please discuss it with me first; that is, before you tell everyone else you know; and preferably, before dashing off that “You’re fired” email.

6. Have a platform and/or be knowledgeable and enthusiastic about promoting your own book. Don’t just state your “willingness” to go along with the publisher’s PR plans. What are YOUR plans?

7. Try to maintain realistic expectations at all stages of this journey. Stay realistic by networking with other authors, attending conferences, and keeping up with happenings in the publishing industry. (And reading blogs.)

8. Have a collaborative spirit. You and your agent are on the same team.

9. Remember I’m a person—with feelings and the tendency to make mistakes every once in awhile. Let’s just be real with each other.

10. Enjoy a nice glass of wine when we have dinner out. If you prefer not to, simply let me know and I’ll respect your preference, but don’t be offended that I asked.

Time to add yours! What do you think would make you a dream client?

*P.S. The first list was composed with the help of a friend who is much funnier than me.

Rachelle Gardner is a Christian literary agent affiliated with WordServe Literary Group in Colorado.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Julie Weathers on December 16, 2008 at 5:30 AM

    >Amber, strictly my point of view here, but I would be talking to my agent. The best agent for me is one who does suggest revisions and is a communicator. He or she looks at the big picture, which is my career, not just one book.

    I would decide what you need and want and discuss that with your agent.

  2. Amber Lynn Argyle on December 15, 2008 at 2:27 PM

    >I have a few questions about your post.
    2. Are all agents as okay with questions as you? I don’t want to offend mine, but I am having some doubts. Any suggestions as to how to approach this?
    3. What if your agent “doesn’t do revisions.” I wish mine did. I want the best possible MS out there.
    When should you fire an agent? How do you do it?

  3. AC on December 15, 2008 at 9:48 AM

    >This cracked me up. Brilliant post!

  4. Liz on December 14, 2008 at 11:14 PM

    >hmmm, I don’t have an agent yet, but from my experience having clients of my own (I’m a lawyer), I’d guess that appreciating that business is business and not to get emotionally transfixed (or worse) when things aren’t unfolding as expected might make my own list.

    And on the subject of revisions, according to the friend of Gabriel Garcia Marquez who recently reported to The Guardian that GGM is working on another novel (yay!), he has written four (yes, FOUR) versions of it and is now trying to pull the best from each of the versions.

    I was belly aching about the serious revisions I know I have ahead of me and then I read that and felt like such. a. pussy. I can’t imagine writing this story 4 times over. Unless I was single, no kids, and no job. And even then. Wow.

  5. Julie Weathers on December 14, 2008 at 9:12 PM

    >1. I don’t think I have any writer relatives. Which reminds me of a story Dale Cramer told. He continued to do carpentry/electrical work for some church people after he was published. Someone asked an older lady he was working for if she had heard about his book.

    “His book?”

    “You didn’t know Dale is a successful author?”

    “He writes? I didn’t know he could read.”

    Anyway, I am out of the running on #1. Wait, my former editor is writing a lovely book and I actually recommended you to her. Does that count?

    2. I can’t find spellcheck on my keyboard. Is it next to the OOOPS key?

    3. I have a blog name reserved for just that occasion, thank you.

    4. Oh, I’ve heard that so many times I no longer cry when I hear it.

    5. I’m very good at laundry. Light or heavy starch. Keep in mind I once starched my husband’s Wranglers so heavily the starch turned into glue with his body heat and he had to cut his glued shut zipper out with a pocketknife.

    6. Hmmm, let me get back to you on this one.

    7. You mean I bought this reciprocating saw, skill saw, compound miter saw, jig saw and scroll saw for nothing?!

    8. Actually, I don’t ski and I react to snow like a vampire reacts to sunlight. Would you settle for an invitation to a quiet country home with horses?

    9. I’m saving mine to wallpaper my office. Is that all right?

    10. I had a tee-shirt made with a picture of a kitty peeking out of a toilet and the caption, “I’m in your bathroom, stalking your agent,” made for the Surrey conference. Are you saying this is a bad thing? I thought agents enjoyed personal attention?

    I make delicious cookies, candy and bread. Does that gain me any extra points?

  6. Chip MacGregor on December 12, 2008 at 2:38 PM

    >Excellent advice, Rachelle. And the next time we see each other, we’ll open a nice bottle of the Coppola Vineyards Cabernet. Worth every penny.

  7. Laurie Pace on December 10, 2008 at 12:29 PM

    >1. No famous relations except for John Ford Coley…first cousin and a terrific write, musician and singer.

    2. I am a certified teacher from the great state of Texas; I still cannot spell. Grows worse with old age when you know it looks wrong but cannot figure it out. Spell check is my friend.

    3. More blogs? I have too many now! I guess one more won’t hurt to celebrate a working relationship and a fabulous person. Between painting daily, running the household, providing respite for foster kids, teaching art and music, and caring for my parents age 80…one more blog is nothing.

    4. I am an artist. There is no such word as OVERWORKING a painting so I know there is no way you can REVISE a manuscript too often. My current manuscript is probably on its tenth reread and revision. I have a private blog up ( Yeah started this one a month ago) and found a group of readers that follow along and make pretty in depth comments. Revisions are good for the soul. The key is climbing out of the box, there is so much more to see through the eyes of your readers. I have that knowledge from being an artist. You cannot take anything at face value. Everything in life is multifaceted.

    5. Communication is the key to any relationship and a relationship takes two people BOTH working on it for it to be a “relationship”. So, I am telling you Laundry day is every day but Sunday. Make sure you put your clothes in the hamper, I will sort them.

    6. Don’t give challenges out lightly because I believe in accomplishing the impossible. I am a child of God.

    7. A platform? Mine is international with galleries, books, artwork and those dreaded blogs. I have over 2000 feedblitz readers on my daily painting blog and from the stats close to 150 new hits per day. I have a solid platform. I spent 9 years working for an ad agency as head artist. I know how to plan a marketing campaign. As I tell my gallery owners, it is my job to promote them as well as they are to promote my work. AND it is important to play it forward and give when you can to charities and research for things close to your heart.

    8. Collaborative Spirit? We are one in the Spirit. I work in His Spirit and what I paint or write is through His spirit. We are on the same team.

    9. A rejection is simply an inspiration to go forward, not sit back and moan. I only become stronger when I am confronted with rejection, and I do it better the next time.

    10. My favorite representing gallery is in the middle of Upper State NY in the vineyards by Kueka Lake. We go every summer and I have an opening for a month at Earth Works Art Gallery. We spend at least a week up there, eating and wine tasting. We belong to two wineries and two new bottles of wine arrive every three weeks. But I like organic hot tea too, and my husband make a mean margarita. After all we are in Texas.

    and to add
    11. I would treat you with the with the same kindnesses as you would treat me. I would be respectful with a common goal, to sell books, to improve the life of those who read them and continue to promote READING as a necessity to life.

    12. Start a campaign to ban video games to get our younger generation back to books.

  8. bloggingexperiments on December 10, 2008 at 11:47 AM

    >Love the lists! I think it is easier to be a dream client when you are set at ease by the agent. Your willingness to communicate and great sense of humor make things more comfortable.

    And by the way, did I mention that I am related to Harper Lee?

    Hmmm…I must have been looking in a different family tree.

  9. Camille Cannon Eide on December 10, 2008 at 2:46 AM

    >Sorry, but. . .

    I’m a great writer, and on occasion, sometimes my words write in excess of great.


  10. elaine @ peace for the journey on December 9, 2008 at 10:57 PM

    >What would make me a great client:

    1. I’m a great writer, and on occasion, sometimes my words write in excess of great.
    2. I have very few problems with trust.
    3. I’ve lived too long and been at this for a season or two; I’m ready for someone else’s best interest exercised on my behalf.
    4. I’m a communicator. If not in words, than through my facial expressions. You’ll never have to guess as to my whereabouts in any matter.
    5. Who would fire you?
    6. I’m working on a platform, along with my 3rd manuscript, duly named for my blog.
    7. I’m 42, the mother of four. I’ve chronciled enough living to keep it real, yet a real peppered with rich hope and a bigger perspective.
    8. I’m a team player.
    9. I’m a feeler too! I never hurt intentionally…well, almost never.
    10. A glass of wine is good medicine for the soul. I’m a Methodist. I don’t mind. Really.

    And an added PS…

    11. I’d be so very grateful and humbled to know that my words warranted some representation. I don’t take the gift for granted. It is a privilege I’ve been allowed.


  11. Dawn on December 9, 2008 at 4:59 PM


    Thanks for a moment of light heartedness during a hectic afternoon at the “day job.”

    And if ever given the chance, I’d love to share a glass of wine with you. My treat. Thanks for letting me know that YOU won’t be offended. 🙂

  12. Yvonne on December 9, 2008 at 1:07 PM


    Here’s a few more:

    1. Name a child Rachelle or Gardner

    2. Offer to give a vacation trip (to Maine?… You can have a cabin on the shore)

    3. Do your holiday cleaning/ cooking/ decorating so you can focus on your reading

    4. Work as your secretary, reminding you of deadlines and appointments

    5. Not getting upset if we find that you took a day off to spend time with your family

    You’re a mother/wife too. I KNOW how crazy this time of year can be!
    Don’t feel guilty if you need some down time with your hubby and kids.

  13. Avily Jerome on December 9, 2008 at 12:41 PM

    >Howdy, Rachelle!

    I’d be a dream client, just because I’m that cool.

    Also, I do laundry AND windows, love wine, chocolate, AND revisions (ok, that’s a little bit of a lie, but I don’t mind revisions), and am willing to share my condo in Breckenridge as soon as I get one.

    Someday an agent will discover that about me, and then they’ll have the best client in the world!

    In the meantime, I’ll just stick with cyber-stalking my favorite agents. 🙂

  14. Rachel on December 9, 2008 at 12:41 PM

    >What about just #10? I can do that one…where should we meet?


  15. Thoughts from South Moon on December 9, 2008 at 11:55 AM

    You are not my agent, but I love you! What a wonderful spirit you have!

  16. Daniel F. Case on December 9, 2008 at 10:25 AM

    >Here’s a little something for the list:

    Remember that “dream” and “nightmare” are two different things.



  17. Catherine West on December 9, 2008 at 10:03 AM

    >That was funny. If I lived closer to you, I’d definitely be up for that glass of wine with dinner. Actually after the week I’ve had, I’ll take a bottle. :0))
    You forgot to add that your clients should present you with a lifetime supply of happy pills, champagne, fresh flowers delivered daily, and David Cook’s personal cell phone number. (Sorry, Brian).

  18. Chatty Kelly on December 9, 2008 at 8:40 AM

    >Actually, if blog comment sections had grammer check, it would read

    You’re not my agent…not your.
    and I’m up for dinner, not I.


    But a girl can dream anyway….

  19. Chatty Kelly on December 9, 2008 at 8:36 AM

    >Your not my agent (i.e. I don’t have an agent), but hey, I up for dinner and wine anytime. 🙂

    I’ll even treat you!

  20. Richard Mabry on December 9, 2008 at 8:11 AM

    >Hey, when I signed, the list you sent me just had “Send chocolate” repeated ten times. Now you’ve made it more complicated.
    And what’s this “Spelchekk” thing yu’re tawkin abowt? What keyz on my compyutur do I hit to uze it?

  21. Karen on December 9, 2008 at 8:10 AM

    >Home Depot? Hammer? My grandson is building my platform from his Legos collection. Will that work?

  22. Rachelle on December 9, 2008 at 8:02 AM

    >Kim, you’re hilarious. Thanks for taking the time!

  23. Kim Kasch on December 9, 2008 at 2:38 AM

    >1) If not related to Harper Lee what about Atticus Finch, or Hamilton Burger?

    2) And; Im always one to remember the smalles’t of detail(s) – so Im gonna ask heres, what, about Grammer check!!!

    3) Groovy Gardner is what I was thinking– that way I’d get some people, maybe those who couldn’t spell well, but like to dig in the dirt and plant seeds.

    4) Of course, if I can’t stop maybe if I can ”Cry Me a River” and it will be a success worth 11,000,000

    5) Okay, but I don’t do windows.
    6) How bout the nonfiction story of the Grand Canyon, a book about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Leonardo – was a turtle, in case you didn’t know), and maybe Simple Spirituality – um…I’ll have to think about that one.
    7) My husband is pretty handy with a hammer – maybe he could help…
    8) No condo, sorry. How ‘bout a camp tent at the beach? Or wait, you couldn’t ski, unless it was on the water – now, that’s a possibility. Do I hear the theme song to Jaws?
    9) Rejection, I was just getting used to it – until Tom friended me.
    10) Stalking-I just think of it as being yourown personal “Paparazzi”.