A writer asked: “How much communication should you expect from your agent? Is it unrealistic to ask them to let you know to which publishers they’ve sent a proposal? Should they give you periodic updates (perhaps quarterly?) or are agents generally so busy that it’s unfair to expect them to contact you unless they receive a ‘pass’ or someone shows interest?”
Sheesh, you clients are so demanding!
Okay, just kidding. Here’s the deal. Every agent has a different style. That’s why it’s so important to try and get to know an agent at least a little before you sign with them. Some agents carry a larger client load and don’t make it a habit to stay in close contact; some carry fewer clients and do more client communication.
I do think it’s reasonable to ask your agent for an update periodically, every couple of months should be okay. Pertinent information would include any new publishers to whom your work has been submitted, or any feedback, positive or negative, from publishers on your work. If you have published works in the marketplace, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting royalty statements and that your agent is available to help you understand anything about them that’s confusing.
I always send an email to the client when a submission is about to go out, letting them know which publishers I’m sending it to. When responses start to come back from publishers, I periodically let the client know what’s going on. (More often when things are happening, such as offers coming in.) When there is an offer on the table and then when there’s a contract in play, we keep our clients updated as often as necessary for them to know what’s going on. Sometimes this can be everyday or several times a day if things are changing fast.
Don’t expect regular communication if you have projects that have been out on submission for months with no positive response. At that point, you may want to contact your agent and talk with them about what you can do next or what you can do better to try and get something more marketable into the pipeline.
Similarly, when you have a contract and you’re in that stretch of months when you’re writing your book, you’re free to contact your agent for random questions, but you probably won’t hear from them. They assume you’re happily writing and don’t want to be disturbed.
The most important thing is: Ask your agent. There’s nothing wrong with writing your agent an email asking the same questions asked at the top of this post. “How often should I expect to hear from you? Is it okay if I email you with questions, or should I wait for you to contact me?”
Readers, chime in. What kind of communication do you have with your agent? Is it enough? Is there something you’d like to see improved?