The Author/Agent Relationship

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Hello Lovelies and welcome back to the blog.

We’ve talked a lot about writing a series, and about the pitfalls of how writing an especially long-standing series in a set genre can box you into being a writer of one genre and only one genre, when that may not be what you want to write for the rest of your life. This week, I want to talk about the author/agent relationship, how you can approach your agent about your interest in a broad writing career, and what to do if they aren’t capable or willing to pivot with you once you’re contracted with them. 

While this post will focus largely on the traditional publishing side, next week, we will talk about the self-published side, so you won’t be left out. While this may not pertain to you, I hope you still get some good content from it. Let’s dive in.

  1. The Author/Agent Relationship

I am currently unagented, but hope to change that one day. I have done enough research to know that the author/agent relationship can be a lot of things. Mainly, your agent is going to be the person to pitch your book to the publishing houses for you. On the back end, they build the relationships necessary and act on the author’s behalf, representing them to build the best contracts and negotiate the best deals. Beyond that though, a more nebulous part of the relationship is the career building that an agent can help to provide. 

  1. How to Plan Your Writing Career

Thinking long term is an important part of the initial conversation an author should have with their agent as you both want to be on the same page. While your course isn’t set in stone, it’s a good idea for an author to have a general vision which is shared with their agent at the beginning. Just as you probably don’t want to sell only one book for the rest of your life, your agent is probably also looking for a long-term partnership. Being open and honest from the start can help to determine if that agent is going to be a good fit for you both when pursuing your career goals, and can save you both a lot of hassle in the future.

  1. When to Know You Need to Pivot

There are many reasons why agents and authors decide to part ways. If you are on the fence or think you and your agent are no longer a good fit, it’s not the end of the world. First, set a time to have an extensive conversation with your agent about the challenges you see with your current situation. Go into it with the understanding that you may not have the whole story, only the part of it that you can see, and express all your concerns while allowing them to respond to each. It’s better to find out the real story than to make up possibly fictional scenarios, which is, admittedly, what writers are best at doing.

  1. How to Pivot

You shouldn’t stay with an agent who isn’t meeting your needs out of obligation. If your conversation ends up with a mutual agreement that it’s time for a change, you’ll both feel so much better. You can part knowing you did everything you could to make the parting as amiable as you can then say it was in your next query letter.

Next week I want to talk about how self-published authors can make it clear to their readers that they do (or want to) publish widely. Again, even if you are traditionally published, I think you can still take some tips from next week’s content, so stay tuned. 

Discussion Questions

  1. What reasons would be big enough for you to want to consider dissolving your Author/Agent relationship?
  2. Have you ever had to leave an agent, or been dropped from an agency? What was the experience like?
  3. Do you think changing agents still carries a stigma like it did in the past?
  4. Do you want to have one agent for a long time, or do you want to have multiple agents across multiple genres?
  5. What questions would you like to see me answer in a blog post or podcast episode?

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