What Does an Agent Offer?

I’m gathering information about what works for writers in the agent/client relationship. So here’s a question for all you agented authors out there:

What do you appreciate most about your agent?

I’m interested in hearing all kinds of opinions. Some areas you may consider addressing:

-The working relationship
-Your agent’s style (i.e. more businesslike; more relational, etc.)
-General career guidance
-Honesty and objective opinion

Overall, how does your agent add value to your publishing life?

For those of you seeking an agent: What do you think will be the most valuable thing an agent can offer you?

Thanks for your answers, and have a good weekend!

(c) 2010 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

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. Jaycee on August 30, 2010 at 9:58 AM

    >An agent that truly seeks to understand the message in a book, rather than try to change it or mold it to fit the world's standards.

    An agent that has a handy list of clients and consistently keeps in contact, suggesting helpful tools and advice along the journey.

  2. Liz Carmichael on August 29, 2010 at 3:24 AM

    >I would like an agent like the one my friend has. Her agent stuck with her for all the years it took to get a publishing contract because she believed in my friend's ability as a writer rather than the quick sell. Now that agent is being rewarded through the success she helped bring about as more and more books are going into print.

    I think a little less subjectivity is what writers need from an agent. Good writing will always be good, even if the agent doesn't immediately know where to send it.

  3. Samantha Grace on August 28, 2010 at 6:33 PM

    >1) I love that my agent knows 1,000times more than I do about the business and used her knowledge to improve my contract.

    2) She has a great laugh and sense of humor, which was the first thing that let me know we would be a good match.

    3) She offers to help me in ways I never anticipated, such as hooking me up with the agency public relations specialist and offering to assist me with my PAN status through RWA.

    4) She's honest with me.

  4. Deleyna on August 28, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    >I've thought a lot about what I want in an agent.

    I need someone who respects the integrity of the work, but also who sees me as a professional. Tell me straight if something is marketable or not. Tell me what needs fixing. I don't need someone to hold my hand during the writing, although the occasional encouragement would be nice.

    Mostly what I need from an agent is honest direction in my career.

    I need someone to handle contract negotiations and all of the marketing direction ins and outs that an agent will likely understand better than an author.

    I'm not afraid of hard work, but I need someone to direct that energy in the most effective manner.

  5. Beth K. Vogt on August 28, 2010 at 9:16 AM

    >I like that my agent believes in my project–that she sees the value in what I'm writing about, even if it's not getting picked up by a publisher. Yet.
    I like that my agent provides a perspective that I don't have on the publishing world. She also encourages me to persevere and to try new writing ventures.
    And I appreciate my agent's commitment to her clients–and how she tries to maintain balance so that clients and responsibilities don't get overlooked.

  6. April on August 28, 2010 at 7:27 AM

    >"What do you think will be the most valuable thing an agent can offer you?"

    Good communication. It can cover a multitude of faults, and poor communication can ruin an otherwise great relationship.

  7. Aimee L Salter on August 28, 2010 at 4:25 AM

    >"For those of you seeking an agent: What do you think will be the most valuable thing an agent can offer you?"

    Career advice – whether it be on the ms, contracts, future planning, relationship building… just a general ability to predict what's coming and help me navigate it.

  8. Marjorie on August 28, 2010 at 1:18 AM

    >"What do you think will be the most valuable thing an agent can offer you?"

    I want an agent who "gets it." I want an agent who gets that the quirky humor in my cartoons is in the "bad art."

    I want her to see the cartoons through the same eyes that called those cartoons, "Thurberesque." I want her to get why they have been called "cartoons with intellect that is dazzling."

    I want an agent that doesn't back away from "crazy," but who embraces it and encourages creativity and bold moves in the project. I want an agent who thinks outside the "youth is everything" box and believes it is possible for a woman to have lived a whole career, and for that woman at 63 to reinvent herself in totally different and imaginative ways.

    I want an agent who is a fan of Joan Rivers and Betty White.

    I want an agent who understands the whole "shtik" in the cartoons and who gets the tongue-in-cheek silly humor.

    I want an agent who adores this piece:

    And I want an agent who can be most of all a fan and laugh with me, even when the project may go nowhere and just sit forever in a blog… to be viewed only by visitors who may happen to find it.

  9. Jodie on August 27, 2010 at 11:03 PM

    >What do I like about my agent? She believes in me. She's willing to brainstorm with me (and kept me from killing off the wrong character in a WIP…) and to tell me if what I'm thinking will work. She pushes me to think outside the box. She watches out for opportunities for me.

    Most of all, she puts up with me. 🙂 I'm grateful for all of that and a whole lot more…

  10. Jillian Kent on August 27, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    >I'm interested in an agent who can help grow my career, share ideas with me and listen to my ideas. An agent who will talk to me on the phone and on-line, and answer my questions without making me feel like I'm bothering her.

    A person of intergrity who is passionate about her job and the writers she represents. What a relief to have you in my corner. Thanks for being there, Rachelle.

  11. Anonymous on August 27, 2010 at 7:07 PM

    >I was completely set on my agent after we spoke on the phone for the first time. He's a very strong communicator. Throughout the process of shopping our first MS together, I really felt he 'got' my writing. He valued the same elements of the story I did. He also listened when I had suggestions in the process of sending it out.

    I worry about things, and he's more of a voice of reason. He's not my first agent, but I'm still a relative novice at this. He, on the other hand, has been in the business for a long time– so I have confidence he knows what he's doing.

    Regarding revisions of my manuscript: I liked that he read it over several times and caught errors, or moments when my sense did not quite resemble earth sense (i.e. logical contradictions), but he has not proven a rip-the-whole-thing-up, editorial type of agent. And I, personally, really love that.

    I'll be happy to tear a story to shreds if an interested editor asks for changes, but I'd at least like to get it before that editor's eyes intact. I'd at least like a shot at my own vision for the story before dismantling it to fit someone else's.

    In short, I see his approach as a sign of trust in my writing, and that's exactly what I was looking for.

  12. Jodi Meadows on August 27, 2010 at 6:51 PM

    >Mutual trust. Lauren MacLeod and I trust each other to take care of things. I know she is doing her job while I do mine. I know I can count on her.

    My agent has many, many wonderful qualities and I completely adore her. But if I had to choose one thing to appreciate most, it's that we can trust each other.

  13. Angie Ledbetter on August 27, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    >The perfect agent would be an awesome "godmother" to my baby AND have big feet to get in important doors.

  14. Heather Sunseri on August 27, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    >I hope to find an agent who enjoys my stories, believes I can write, and tells me so – because that's my love language. 🙂

    I like what Jennie Allen wrote above. I would love to have an agent who is my biggest fan, my biggest critic, a coach, a counselor, a lawyer and an advocate. I'm looking for someone willing to partner with me as I find my way in this industry, because I'm in it for the long haul, but realize I still have SO much to learn.

    I also enjoyed Katie's comments above.

  15. Katy McKenna on August 27, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    >"Agents are people, too."

    I think that sums up how I've come to view my wonderful agent. She's accessible, sensitive, caring, brilliant, and business-minded. She doesn't make me feel crazy-stupid, even when I occasionally send her VERY long, detailed emails with the subject line, "Just A Quick Question."

    We haven't yet been able to sell my first novel, but she never made me feel that our relationship was based on that one book only. And even though I'm struggling to get another book written and delivered to her, she's been patient. I think she knows that I want it to be good. REALLY good.

    The BEST thing about my agent is that she thinks I'm funny and laughs at all the right spots. In return, I think she's hiLARious, the highest compliment in my book. So to speak.

    I've got mad love for my agent!

  16. Rachel on August 27, 2010 at 1:56 PM

    >I deeply appreciate my agent's editorial comments. She never fails to improve the smooth flow of my manuscripts. If there are weaknesses in characterization or pacing, she'll catch them. It's so important to me that she does this.

    I appreciate the low-key business-like relationship we have — and the way she gets back to me very quickly if I do ask a question or have a request.

    I appreciate how sincere she sounds when she tells me she loves my books.

    I would die if I had to deal with the nuts-and-bolts legal aspects of writing and publishing. Thank God my agent is there to do all that.

  17. Meg Waite Clayton on August 27, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    >My current agent, Marly Rusoff, isn't my first agent, but she is my happily-ever-after one. She took on The Wednesday Sisters after my first novel (represented by another agent) sold very "modestly," and brought it out with confidence that it was going to be a big hit. It became a national bestseller, and now I have a third, The Four Ms. Bradwells, coming out in March. And that first modest-selling one is also getting new life at my new publisher, Ballantine Books, in the form of a paperback release next summer.

    How does she walk on water? She doesn't just sell books; she stays involved at every step of the process. She has amazing marketing ideas, and knows the publishing business from the inside. And she is both businesslike and relational. Somehow, she manages to steer people in ways they don't always think they'd like to go without ever ruffling feathers.

    And she is funny and fun, too: a delight to chat with, over coffee or on the phone. It almost makes me want to live in NY. Almost.

  18. Tawna Fenske on August 27, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    >Oh, I could go on and on (and have) about how much I adore my agent, Michelle Wolfson.

    I love the fact that she's super responsive. Even if she doesn't have time to deal with something I've sent her (which is rare, and also totally understandable given her workload) she responds to emails saying "I'm swamped this week but I'll get back to you by next Tuesday." This lets me know my message didn't get lost in cyberspace and she's on top of things.

    I love that she's committed to my career for the long run, and that she doesn't give up EVER. We actually had a fairly bumpy path to publication, with two books that didn't sell (though interestingly enough, that second book DID eventually end up selling as part of a three-book deal).

    I love that she always has a plan. Rejections can be brutal for BOTH of us, and Michelle never forwards one to me and just says, "oh well." Every rejection comes with a discussion of our options and her suggestions for how we should move forward. To me, this is the most valuable service she provides, as it's easy for authors to feel bogged down by "now what?" syndrome.

    I truly can't say enough great things about Michelle, and am grateful every single day to have her as my agent.


  19. Julie Gillies on August 27, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    >Hi Rachelle,

    What I appreciate most about my agent is that he immediately forwards all publisher responses to me. I like being looped in and I love that he leaves their comments for me to read, while adding his own two cents.

    My agent is more business-like, which is fine by me…though I confess some days I sure could use either a good cheerleader or a swift kick in the rear.

    Have a great weekend, Rachelle!

  20. T. Anne on August 27, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    >There are two absolutes that I’m looking for in an agent; one, someone who can deal with the occasional bout of sarcasm, and two, they must be willing and able to hold an intelligent conversation based solely on reality TV. Oh and that whole navigating me through a publishing deal thing would be pretty cool too.

  21. Anonymous on August 27, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    >So nice to hear about the positive, helpful agents..how about a shout-out with actual names? Thanks, guys!

    Personally, I'm looking for an advisor, a cheerleader, a partner and a savvy biz whiz/negotiator all in one. I can only dream…

  22. Beth on August 27, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    >What I hope an agent will offer me is:

    • Knowledge of what will or will not benefit me in a contract.

    • Access to publishing houses that are closed to unsolicited manuscripts.

    • The ability to negotiate for a better deal that will benefit all parties concerned.

    • Free more writing time which is currently consumed researching publishers and agents to find good matches for my manuscripts.

    • A professional, open relationship which is friendly and cordial, and is built on excellence and strong communication.

  23. Anonymous on August 27, 2010 at 10:20 AM

    >The #1 thing I love about my agent (who is actually the 2nd agent I've had) is her loyalty to her clients. What I mean is this: with my very first agent, when he couldn't sell my manuscript, he sort of lost interest in representing me and took almost a year to give me feedback on a new manuscript I handed to him. When I got my current agent with my third manuscript, she also was unable to sell it (although we came close!). However, she stuck by my side. She gave me tons of prompt, editorial feedback on my latest WIP and worked with me to hone it to perfection. And then she sold that one. Her support didn't waver. She was truly an agent that took her authors on for their whole careers, and I am eternally grateful to her for that.

    Other things I love about my agent! She's sweet and nice when appropriate, but also unafraid to be bluntly honest when telling me something's not working in my book. She's a tough negotiator. Very professional. She also keeps in constant touch with me, lets me know everything that's going on, and responds to my emails within the hour (usually within minutes). She's fantastic!

  24. Anita Mae Draper on August 27, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    >Their knowledge.

  25. Erica Vetsch on August 27, 2010 at 10:07 AM

    >I love everything Katie said!

    One thing I appreciate about my agent is her servant's heart. She never fails to ask me what she can do to help me reach my goals. Whether it is emailing me well before a deadline to see how things are going or writing a fabo blog chock full of industry tips, she's got a servant's heart.

  26. Teenage Bride on August 27, 2010 at 9:58 AM

    >Simple…. their honesty and their hard work.

  27. Rachelle on August 27, 2010 at 9:56 AM

    >Jack Barrow: Lol, I was wondering the same thing… when is somebody going to say they just want access to publishers and that's the primary value of an agent?

    I don't think there's an elephant in the room, it may be that the answer is too obvious for some; while others have found that their agents offers so much more than "access."

    In any case, I know what you're saying. One of the primary benefits of an agent is "access to publishers" and that's one of the reasons I became an agent, because I realized that writers nowadays need that partner in order to "break in." I've always been about helping authors both become the best writers they can, and get published, and being an agent seemed the best way to do that.

  28. Lisa Lawmaster Hess on August 27, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    >I had an immediate connection with my agent, Diana Flegal, when I met her at a conference,and that was a huge influence on my signing with her. Talking with her about my work is like talking to a good friend, and since I don't have waste energy worrying about whether or not I'm making a good impression, our conversations and brainstorming sessions about my work help move me forward. Best of all, since Diana takes care of a big chunk of the "business" of writing (the submissions game), my writing time is spent writing – not worrying about queries and submissions packages. Still waiting for that elusive fiction contract, but while I'm waiting, I can work on the next project, rather than splitting my time between writing and submitting.

  29. Daniel F. Case on August 27, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    >My agent is one of the best things that's happened to me as a writer. I'm so glad I didn't just sign with the first person who claimed to be an agent and would have me. The right agent makes a HUGE difference.

    My agent is honest with me. She believes in me as a writer and refuses to submit anything short of my best work. She's not afraid to straighten me out when I desperately need straightening. My agent has the remarkable ability to totally trash my work and leave me feeling good about it.

    I can honestly say I've never had a phone call with my agent that didn't leave me stoked, encouraged, and ready to rise to a higher level. When she finally does sell one of my books–and we both know she will–I will not begrudge her one penny of her commission. She's already earned it.


  30. Jack Barrow on August 27, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    >Is there an elephant in the room here or did just miss some of the comments?

    It strikes me that without an agent a writer simply isn’t going to get through the wall to the publishers. What I’m looking for in an agent is somebody on the network who can get me in. From there the whole relationship opens up, valuable feedback is one thing but there are other sources and the word that readers are passing the work amongst their friends is pretty good feedback in itself. (Shameless self promotion here because nobody else is going to do it.) Also ideas for other media and the contacts to get the contacts. I have a strong belief that graphic novel or even animation might be the way to go but I’d have no idea how to pursue that channel.

    Beyond that I’d like to think the relationship can be a cross between a colleague and a friend, someone who is trusted and respected in whatever they say. Is that a bit woolly?

  31. Anonymous on August 27, 2010 at 9:38 AM

    >I had an agent for my first, non-fiction book. On the positive side, she knew the publishing industry very well, found me a good home for the book, and negotiated a decent contract. So I valued her expertise in the industry and business of publishing. I'm so glad I don't have to re-invent the wheel on all that.

    On the other hand, she was not the warmest person. Her emails tended to be brusque one or two-line things. I felt that once the book was sold, I kind of vanished off her radar. I didn't feel like she helped me brainstorm about ways to promote the book, sell excerpts to magazines etc. And I didn't get a sense of support or teamwork from her in thinking about the next step for my writing career — how to go on from that first book.

    So I'm currently looking for a new agent…

    I guess my conclusion is that I value two very different sets of skills:

    (1) The publishing business acumen — how to sell my work and get me the best contract.

    (2) The personal connection, and a sense that s/he is invested in my career, not just a particular project.

    I do *not* look to an agent for major editing. Sure, that would be great, but there are other people who can do that, and the first two aspects seem to be things that only an agent can do.

  32. Stephanie McGee on August 27, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    >I think what I'll enjoy most about having an agent, when that day comes, is having a sounding board. Someone who is knowledgable enough in the industry to help me shape my next ideas as they form and we can work together to make those ideas into a viable concept for me to write.

    I think that will be invaluable.

  33. Sue Harrison on August 27, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    >I'm unagented, so here's my wish list. An agent who:

    1. knows good writing and pushes me toward that standard.

    2. is a great (objective, honest, smart) editor.

    3. knows the market and is an excellent business person.

    4. is a good negotiator.

    5. will stay in contact with me via email to let me know what's happening with my stuff.

    6. will brainstorm with me and enjoys thinking outside the box (and pings off the wall sometimes).

    7. is not afraid to step on my toes when it's necessary to get me going in the right direction with my writing.

    8. expects a lot out of me, because I do better with high standards.

    9. has a great sense of humor.

    10. respects my Christian faith.

    Thank you for this post, Rachelle! It was fun to think about.

  34. lynnrush on August 27, 2010 at 9:00 AM

    >I love the editorial tips she has to make my stories better, her energy and excitement, and dedication to my career, not just the one book sell.

    I'm glad I don't have to worry about all the business stuff, either. I trust her and know that she's got my best interest at heart!

    Thanks for this post. Happy Friday!!

  35. Anonymous on August 27, 2010 at 8:56 AM

    >I will preface this by saying I love my agent the way some teenagers love Twilight. I believe yesterday on Twitter I actually offered him a kidney if he ever needs one.

    This may seem strange coming from someone whose first book didn’t sell, but, imo, it’s when the path to a first sale is neither instant nor smooth that an agent shows his (or her, mine is a his so forgive the male pronoun usage). My agent, God love him, is all about career building. He has been around long enough to care about long term. He is breezy and professional but deeply caring. How does he add value let me count the ways:

    1) Editorial input (he was an editor at a major house once and it shows)

    2) Idea vetting (even before book one didn’t sell we had brainstorming sessions about my other ideas and he was candid about what he thought would find an audience, what he thought might not, and why)

    3) He really listens and is always supportive if I want to try something new (he trusts my instincts even as I trust his. Last book was third person past tense, wip is 1st person present – that can be dicey so he said show me ten chapters then we will know, but he encouraged me to give it a try)

    4) He has connections and employs them for my professional development (including NYC lunches with editors with strong advice/opinions on my work)

    5) He is genuinely glad to hear from me (it’s all in the voice folks. I don’t call or email that often but when I do I always get the time/advice I am seeking. If I miss him, I don’t wait days for a call back, I wait hours. He has big name clients who make big money for him but I never feel like a small fish – he always treats me like the next big thing)

    I actually look forward to the day when I have some sales so that I can hand my 15% over. Yep, it must be love.

  36. Richard Mabry on August 27, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    My agent has been supportive, talking me down off a few figurative ledges as I navigated the shoals and narrows of the publishing world.
    She's knowledgeable, and her suggested edits of my manuscripts have reduced those made by the publisher to an unbelievable minimum.
    For these and so many other reasons, I'm fortunate to be represented by her…er, by you.

  37. Lizzie on August 27, 2010 at 8:38 AM

    >I chose my agent with an eye to complementarity. I'm quite timid, she's bold. I'm not instinctively commercial; she definitely is. I never read documents properly; she does!
    I don't need my hand held and I don't need nagging-I'm quite diligent-so didn't require those characteristics
    But most of all there are two areas where she's crucial: firstly she is an ally and a buffer against rejections-they feel less painful mediated through her and she's always looking forward not ruminating. Secondly she has a reputation which opens doors and gets mss read and sold. She networks so I don't have to. Worth every penny.

  38. Kate Thompson on August 27, 2010 at 8:37 AM

    >I had an agent for my first book, and she was great. Helpful, professional, direct, energetic, knowledgable. She was able to advise about the "background" info on the three publishers who made offers on our book. All good and appreciated.

    Then after our book was published, she left the agency, and someone else was assigned to us. We had no choice about who, and the relationship with the new agent has been unsatisfying. She does the basic job, but we have no connection or relationship.

    For my next book, I'd like an agent like my first one: someone who believes in my book, knows the publishing business, is available for my questions, will suggest what needs to be done or changed, and is interested in helping me build my career.

    I appreciate this topic, Rachelle, and everyone's comments so far – really helpful.

  39. Em-Musing on August 27, 2010 at 8:29 AM


  40. Amity on August 27, 2010 at 8:28 AM

    >I'm unagented. Aside from the obvious — passionate about my work — I want an agent who is financial/contractual savvy. With all the changes with Ebooks, Google settlements, and the normal difficulty publishers have with parting with their money, I want a feeling of an advocate on my side who is knowledgeable and firm. I'm not mercenary — I don't have to make six figures — but if I don't want to be fooled, either.

  41. jasouders on August 27, 2010 at 8:24 AM

    >My agent is made of awesome. Period. But if I really HAVE to say why, I'll try to pick a few things. 😀

    I like that I can email her whenever. Even if it's just to freak out over an issue with my book or good news from an editor. She's always prompt returning emails, usually within a few hours. She's completely honest and doesn't pull her punches, but she's never cruel (though snarky at times. 😉 ) Her editorial feedback is spot-on and no matter how many revisions I needed on a particularly difficult MS, she just keeps re-reading and telling me where she'd like to see changes.

    I also appreciate that she's taken the business of publishing out of my hands to leave me to write, but always runs everything by me and makes sure I understand what's going on and why.

    And then pretty much everything Katie said about hers, I agree with for mine. 😀

  42. Sean Cummings on August 27, 2010 at 8:18 AM

    >I've just been offered representation from an agent I've been working closely with for the better part of the year. Her boundless enthusiasm for my novel sustained me through the revision process and her keen eye for detail helped me produce a far better work than what I'd originally come up with.

  43. James Montgomery Jackson on August 27, 2010 at 8:15 AM

    >First and foremost the relationship between author and agent is a business relationship.

    I chose to decline representation because the agent refused to consider modifying her agreement to specify what happened in case she died, became disabled or went out of business.

    I liked everything else about her from our joint phone interview, but that was a killer.

    ~ Jim

  44. L.R. Giles on August 27, 2010 at 8:11 AM

    >My agent has an editor's eye (for good reason, she was an editor with Random House for years), and she's really a fan of my work, which is important. Her excitement (hopefully) rubs off on editors. But, beyond that, we have a good relationship and can chat like friends. We often trade reading recommendations, or just have conversations about the industry. I find all of these things valuable and know I've made a good choice in going with her.

  45. Cliff Graham on August 27, 2010 at 8:08 AM

    >Regardless of how publishing changes, as long as agents are willing to shift with the times, they will remain completely indispensable.

    I have a cautionary tale from personal experience about trying to do this without one. My agent actually saved my bacon several times from some dead-end movement, but where he really earned his commission is in handling things when the book took a leap to the next level.

    Not only did he get me in the door with the publishers and facilitate the bidding, as well as making recommendations based on who would be he best editors, etc., but he is the point man on dealing with the movie production company and the various publicity groups and talking heads who have come into our circle related to the project.

    He's also a wise counselor, the type that Proverbs says to run screaming to. My favorite quote for an agent's job is: they protect happy stupid people from themselves.

    I can't stress to my fellow authors enough–you need one. Really.

  46. Jennie Allen on August 27, 2010 at 8:04 AM

    >I remember when I signed with my agent he told me, some days I will be your biggest fan and others your critic, and others your coach and others your counselor and others your lawyer and others your advocate… and so on.

    It has proven true. Yesterday I called him for 2 minutes to basically cry and vent about this process. He listened and said, "I know" and I magically felt better. Worth more than 15%- just don't tell Steve Laube I said that. 🙂

  47. Cheryl Barker on August 27, 2010 at 8:04 AM

    >I haven't been quite ready to seek an agent yet, but I think the most valuable thing an agent will be able to offer me to start with is inroads to the right publishers — a chance to be considered and someone to champion my work. Exciting stuff! 🙂

  48. Jessica Nelson on August 27, 2010 at 7:21 AM

    >I'm unagented so right now what I appreciate most is communication. Specifically, a rejection or request as opposed to silence. 😉 That's what I like about you. You're really helpful and respectful (is that a word? lol) of writers.

  49. Wendy Paine Miller on August 27, 2010 at 6:58 AM

    >Okay, I have to start by saying that was cool to read what Katie wrote above.

    On the brink of seeking.

    Looking for:
    strong communicator
    someone I can brainstorm with
    someone invested in my career
    an agent excited about my work
    with editing strengths, ideas of how to improve problem areas and then tells me to get to work
    I probably lean toward more relational as far as the style I'm looking for

    Last one (and this is a must)…an agent who knows how to laugh.

    What a great idea for a post.
    ~ Wendy

  50. Katie Ganshert on August 27, 2010 at 5:37 AM

    >Oh, and when I get a publishing contract I'll probably really, really appreciate your expertise in contracts b/c I'm clueless. I think a lot of what an author appreciates depends on where they are at in their journey.

  51. Katie Ganshert on August 27, 2010 at 5:26 AM

    >Things I appreciate about my agent (hi!) in no particular order (and this might change when I get a publishing contract, because my focus will shift from wanting to get published, to wanting to stay published):

    – Getting email updates about the status of my project (whether good or bad) b/c I like to know what's going on

    – Getting feedback after she read my first manuscript (I promise this isn't b/c it was good feedback – I just like to know if I'm on target or need to work some things out and I like to know she's reading my stuff)

    – I love the fact that she's very experienced in editing so she knows how to write well and what good writing is

    – I loved being able to send her story ideas and getting her feedback on them (I'm one of those authors who likes to brainstorm!)

    – I love that she's passionate about her job, she's got an excellent reputation, and she puts her clients first

    – And one last random, not-so-important-but-fun thing – I love that she tweets! I love reading her updates, especially those super fun ones about contracts!

    Can't wait to read the results. 🙂

  52. RefreshMom on August 27, 2010 at 2:36 AM

    >My agent and I have what I feel is a very balanced working relationship/partnership/friendship.

    I think there's a good amount of mutual respect for the unique pieces of the publishing puzzle that each of us brings to the table. It's important to me that he really listens and considers my input rather than simply taking my proposals, shipping them off and letting me know the outcome–eventually (as I've heard some agents do).

    I really appreciate how we work as a team to talk over various projects, decide which I should be focusing on, even discussing which publishers/editors might be best to approach with each.

    In a lot of ways, all those things are icing on the cake. The very most important thing an agent adds to my publishing life is being there to handle the sticky business things that come up (I've had more than my share in my bit of a publishing career).

    While I'm thrilled to be working with someone with whom I'm on the 'same page' (forgive the publishing pun), ultimately I really want someone to be my advocate, salesman, business consultant and 'bad guy' in ways that I can't/don't want to do on my own.

    I learned that this is more important than friendship or coaching or communication when I momentarily had an agent who seemed to be my literary 'other half.' It was as though we shared a brain when it came to my projects. He could name off a half-dozen New York editors who would be perfect to approach with my most compelling project. But he never submitted to anyone–not even the publishers who had specifically requested my proposals following the conference where we met. All the compatibility in the world didn't matter if he couldn't/wouldn't/didn't actually handle the business end of things.

    Mary Hampton

  53. Wendy Delfosse on August 27, 2010 at 1:38 AM

    >Also from the seeking side:
    Contract negotiations. I mean, I've read enough TOS to pick up some legalese, but I know I was an expert helping me through that.

    But writing just that looks so cold & calloused. The agents I'm finding myself drawn to are all people I think I would describe as their clients advocate – watching out for their interests, cheerleading them. Helping them with a career – not a single sale.

    Hmm, can I have two answers?

  54. Anthony on August 27, 2010 at 1:24 AM

    >"For those of you seeking an agent: What do you think will be the most valuable thing an agent can offer you?"

    A professional pair of eyes on the manuscript in terms of sellability and someone to take care of all the crap so I can focus on delivering another manuscript to our liking.

    Sooooo worth 15%.

    For example, I can build my own house, or I could buy a house and use the time I would spend on building a house to write. Yes, I have to participate in the buying of the home, the signing of papers, participating in the negotiations on the price, that's all good. Still don't want to build a house.

  55. Meagan on August 27, 2010 at 1:05 AM

    >I'm currently unagented, so only able to answer the second part of the question. Right now, what I look forward to most is the honesty and objective opinion.

    I'm one of those people that has no trouble believing the negative criticism but finds it nearly impossible to believe the praise. I'm always second-guessing it, assuming that whoever's praising an aspect of my writing is doing it for a reason, like being nice/polite, because they're my friend, because they don't want to give offense, etc. etc. But I imagine it's in an agent's best interest to be completely honest, and I think I'd find that straightforwardness incredibly reassuring.