Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm a Maven now! & Agent/Author Communication

Hey y'all! Sorry for the late announcement, but surprise -- I'm a the newest member of the Manuscript Mavens!! You can read my first post (as an official Maven) introducing myself a little, here.

Today over on Fangs, Fur & Fey, Caitlin Kittridge has a great post up about talking to agents at all stages of the relationship. You know, when to follow up on partials, fulls, etc. I think it's a great post (though I think you should give an agent at least a week to get back to you when you let them know you have another offer of representation).

As I posted in the comments, I think the biggest key to a good agent/author relationship is communication. I'm not sure how my agent would feel about me comparing him to my boyfriend, but there is one rule that holds true in both dating and agent/author relationships: no one but you knows what you're thinking/expecting and it isn't fair to expect things from significant others/agents if you haven't told them you're expecting things.

Seriously, apply this rule to all areas of your life. I know, I know, most of us grew up on romance novels where the hero always knew what the heroine needed and just gave it to her without her having to ask. We all saw the Sex in the City episode where the ring Aiden picked out for Carrie was a test of how well he knew her. See, we all have these unspoken expectations. And it isn't fair to get mad at people because they don't know about those expectations. And just sometimes, we use these expectations of tests (if he really loved me he'd know that I liked my eggs sunny side up and not scrambled) and that's really not fair (unless you've really clearly expressed your egg preference and even then, that's not really a measure of love).

I hear stories of so many authors who are terrified of their agents. Who refuse to call, refuse to follow up, refuse to tell an agent how they feel or what they need. Now, I'm not advising that you go to your agent with a list of demands or that you shed tears next time you're on the phone. But if something bothers you, bring it up in a professional manner. Let them know what will help you be better at your job and figure out a mutual way of working together that will get the job done.

At the same time, be willing to listen to what the agent says will help them work. If you want a quick turnaround on a proposal, ask the agent if they can tell you when they'll be able to read it and then work towards that deadline. But hold up your end of the bargain and turn that proposal in on time.

Bottom line (and I know I've said this before) an agent/author relationship is a business relationship and should be approached professionally. But it often turns into so much more and you have to figure out a way to make it work for both of you. And the best way to do that is to communicate and express your expectations and come up with a way of satisfying both of you.

Of course, lots of things are easier said than done, but it's something to think about at least :)


Patrick Alan said...

Seriously, sunnyside up is just difficult without a proper stove. Even then, still takes too much concentration.

Erica Ridley said...

Squeeeeeee on new Maven!!! =)

And very good advice re: agents. I agree.

Vicki said...

Great post and congrats on becoming the newest Maven. :)