Mythbusting Agents

Myth: Agents always know best. 

I should clarify, my agent, Rachel Ekstrom, usually does. That’s why she’s my agent. I trust her to give me advice that is best for my career, not just for right now. I know how many years of publishing experience she has. I know many of her other clients. I know what she orders at Pamela’s Diner. Bottom line, I know enough of Rachel and her agenting style to know we are a great team — one I hope works together for many, many books to come.

Over the weekend, an interesting post surfaced about a Twitter interaction between a new agent and an experienced author. The agent had tweeted about how if she makes an offer, she expects an answer right away, not to have to wait while you check in with other agents. The writer, rightly so, pointed out the absurdity of this. Here’s the post if you want to read more.

This new agent’s attitude terrifies me.

When you’re a querying author and you finally get some interest from an agent, it can be dizzying. Someone in publishing thinks your words are good enough! You’ve worked so hard to get to this point, and it’s finally happening. This is where it’s important to remember a few important things.

Querying is like dating. If you like the look of each other, you might take it to the next step. That next step is NOT a long term relationship. It’s a conversation where you get to know more about each other, specifically you get to know more about them. The way querying is set up, you can’t really ask agents questions before they express interest in representing you — agents just don’t have time for that — their clients come first. Sure, you’ve done done a ton of research online about every agent you queried, that’s why you submitted to them in the first place. But that only reveals so much information.

That’s why it’s so important to take the time to ask questions and follow up with other agents who have your submission when you get an offer. You need this extra step to make sure you will be compatible, to find out the information a Google search can’t reveal. It’s crucial that you feel you can ask any question of your agent. This is a business relationship, one you’ll hopefully be in for many years. This is not a time to rush things. If an agent is interested in your writing, they will still be interested in two weeks, and they’ll probably respect you for showing good business sense. Publishing is not the stock market, it doesn’t move at light speed. There is time.

chandlerReally

Really.

I’ve had several friends who received multiple offers and took this time to ask questions and understand which agent would be the best fit. I’ve also had friends who only had one offer and still said no because after this important time, it became obvious the agent and writer wouldn’t work well together. This is your career and it deserves time.

We’re approaching Pitch Wars season, and I think this can be an extra important lesson. When offers start flying fast and furious, take a deep breath, make a list of questions, and take your time. You know what is best for you!

The following two tabs change content below.

Amy Reichert

Amy E. Reichert is the author of THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE (Simon & Schuster/Gallery, July 21 2015), about food, love, and second chances, and where serendipity comes in the form of a delicious coconut cake. Find out more at amyereichert.com.

Latest posts by Amy Reichert (see all)

This article has 2 Comments

  1. Wow. My agent told me to think about it for a good while before signing up with her. It was one of the things that made me want to go with her, that she was confident enough to let me connect with the other agents I was talking to. That’s as bad as having people ask for an exclusive for weeks and months or journals not accepting simultaneous submissions. Crazy.

    1. My agent too, Shelly. These types of horror stories scare the pants off of me. There are so many fly-by-night people out there happy to take advantage of desperate writers.

Comments are closed.