If you’re interested in the business of publishing and getting an agent, I’ve got a post over on my personal blog about how I got an agent.
But here I’d like to talk a little more broadly about what an agent does for a writer, and what that means for us in all of our careers and lives. Uncle Wiki tells me this is what literary agents do:
A literary agent is an agent who represents writers and their written works to publishers, theatrical producers, and film producers and assists in the sale and deal negotiation of the same.
Okay. Leaving aside that it may be the worst-written sentence on Wikipedia (and that is saying a lot!), I think that definition couldn’t be more wrong. If a writer’s agent is simply representing and selling their work, they’re not a very good agent.
Take my agent, for example: Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein of McIntosh and Otis. Does she represent and sell my work? Absolutely. But she does so much more. She’s my first reader and first editor when I write something new, and she knows just how to let me down easy. She can explain publishing terms and contract-ese I couldn’t hope to understand. She asks icky questions of my publisher that I don’t want to ask.
In short, she’s the fiercest advocate I could ever have. If I ever get an invitation to a rumble, I’m totally taking Elizabeth with me.
The most important thing about Elizabeth, though, is that she has the cutest dog EVAR.
Optimally, we’d all act as our own advocate. But that doesn’t always work. If I have to have a medical procedure done, I bring my mom – she’s great at asking the important questions and listening to all the details I’m too stressed to hear. It’s not that I can’t ask the questions, it’s just that I need to be able to focus on being calm and getting well, and she lets me do that.
In the same way, Elizabeth lets me focus on what I need to do creatively while she manages and guides me through the nitty-gritty.
Who are the people you call on to advocate for you?
And how cute is my agent’s dog? For real.