An Agent for One Year
That “no blogging on Wednesdays” thing didn’t last very long! I couldn’t help myself, had to post a blog today. You’ll see why…
Another milestone to report! Today marks exactly one year since I made my first submission to publishers in my role as agent. In celebration, I wanted to share some impressions of the first 12 months:
Expectations: I really had no idea what to expect when I made this leap. It’s kind of like when you’re about to become a parent for the first time. You have a lot of information at your fingertips, and you see people all around you who are already doing it, but you never really know what it will be like until you actually do it. I went into this expecting that it might be a good fit for me, and that I’d probably like it. I didn’t expect it to be quite so all-consuming!
The Learning Curve: I’ve worked in publishing for a long time (13 yrs) but each position is unique and requires learning new things and getting to know new people. The steepest part of the learning curve has been figuring out how to stay organized and manage the sheer volume of people, queries, proposals and manuscripts. I confess I find it mind-boggling at times.
The Blog: A big surprise of this year has been the response to this blog… shocking, actually! I have so much fun writing it and interacting with you. I started it because I wanted to engage in conversation with writers and other industry professionals, and it has become all that and more. I love how it keeps me in touch with the concerns of writers, so that I never become too distant or lose touch.
Contracts and Negotiations: I’ve always really enjoyed the business part of publishing, and as much as I’m a “book person” and love the art & craft sides of publishing, I’m also very much at home dealing with the nitty-gritty of contracts and all that other stuff that most writers would rather not have to think about. I love this aspect of being an agent!
Submissions and Rejections: I underestimated how it would affect me when I submit my clients’ work to publishers and get rejections. I’m not saying it feels the same to me as it feels to a writer who has spent a year or more of their life on a book. But still, it hurts. Instead of taking the rejection personally, though, I’m learning what I can from each rejection (so I can become a smarter agent)…and then moving on. (Does that sound like familiar advice???)
The Bottom Line: Though I hope to grow my business in the coming years, I’m pleased with what God has granted me in this first year. I negotiated 10 contracts for a total of 13 books and combined advances of more than a quarter million dollars. And here’s the most exciting part: 9 of my 10 contracts have been for first-time authors. It’s thrilling to call a client on the phone and tell them, “You got your first book deal!” Hands down, this has been the BEST part of being an agent so far.
Although I have days when I question my career choice and/or my sanity, I’m thankful for the role I’m blessed to play in the publishing world: helping great writers get their amazing books into the hands of eager readers.
And…I’m truly excited about what tomorrow will bring.
Rachelle Gardner is a Christian literary agent affiliated with WordServe Literary Group in Colorado.