Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Agent as Terrifying Beast

Maven Carrie Ryan Last week I was talking about a conference I went to and some of the writing myths that I kept hearing over and over again. This week, I want to talk about another myth: the agent as terrifying beast.

Someone at the con told the story of a friend of hers who was so stressed out every time her agent called -- so terrified and nervous -- that she had to get a phone with a mute button so that she could take the call in the bathroom. We're not talking about the first time they talked, we're talking years of this.

Yes, it's easy to get nervous when you're talking to agents, especially the first time. And yes, my heart was pounding when I first talked to my agent on the phone. But the thing to remember is that you and your agent are partners -- you're working together to get the best deal that you can get (for you personally and your book).

I think sometimes it's easy to feel like it's us versus them: the writers versus the agents who are the gatekeepers to our goals. But like I said last week, agents want to make a sale as much as writers do. Agents want to find that great book, that promising client to work with.

Sometimes I hear writers who are terrified to ask their agent questions and raise legitimate concerns even after they've signed a contract and been repped for a while. They're afraid of being "that client" that all agents dread -- needy, whiny, too much work to want to deal with. Sometimes it's hard to remember that not only are you in a partnership with your agent, you're also in a business relationship. And if you need information to handle your end of the business, you shouldn't hesitate to ask.

At the end of the day, I try to remember that agent and author are working towards the same goal. They're people just like us writers. They hate rejection, just like us writers. And they hope for that amazing sale, just like us.

What are your thoughts?


Jackie Barbosa said...

I think it's kind of sad that anyone would be so terrified of her (or his) own agent. The agent works for you, the author, after all. It's kind of like being afraid of the butcher when you ask for a special cut of meat or something. I mean, the agent's job is to help YOU and thereby help him or herself.

I know that one of the reasons I thoroughly love my agent is that she doesn't intimidate me. I feel I can ask her anything and she's answer, honestly and helpfully. And I think that's an important part of any agent/author relationship. If you're not comfortable talking with your agent, I can't think that's a good thing!

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