Agent Triage

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

You know what I hate? That there are only 24 hours in a day! I find myself needing more time all the time and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

As an agent, I could spend any given work day just answering emails, or reading, or sending proposals, or working on contracts, or talking on the phone with clients/editors. There’s no end to any of these activities and agents can’t ever really catch up on everything because each day brings new surprises–both good and challenging.

In a perfect world, I’d be able to add projects to my list of “to dos” in the order they come in, but unfortunately items on that list do need to be prioritized. For example, a book turned in to me by a client on deadline with a publishing house often needs to be read before a book from a client who is not currently on deadline.

And a query proposal from a writer who has strong interest from a publishing house needs to come first over the projects I’ve requested that are not currently under review by an editor at a publishing house. I need to be sure to be ready for that author should an offer be made, so the author/agent relationship needs to be established quickly.

Or if a contract comes in, I need to set aside other tasks and dedicate a good portion of that day to reading it over and sending my requests back to the publishing house. I never like to let contracts sit.

I do care very much about all of my clients and those who are waiting to hear from me about submissions, so I try hard to get through my lists as efficiently as possible. But even the most organized triage efforts can end in misplaced emails or submissions sliding down in the inbox, so do feel free to check in with the agent you are waiting to hear from if it seems that some time has passed with no answer.

What is daily triage like for you as a writer?

 

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29 Comments

  • If one of your children is puking…that always takes precedence! No matter how well that scene with the rampaging elephant at the insane asylum is coming along.

  • Rachel, this post isn’t showing up under the normal “blog” section. I found it with Janet’s tweet.

    Writing is crazy for me right now. I can’t use the office … I need a computer moved, and we found a litter of kittens … only have two left, but they are set-up in the office right now (they sleep in there at night for now) … but a kennel is taking up office space. And it’s a small room anyway. :)

    I have to retreat to the bathroom/closet to get alone with God and work on ideas. Once I get the ideas, then I can handle the other chaos and write. As I write this, my daughter keeps clinging a bell for the kittens! :)

    • Shelli, your literal prayer closet is a step above Susanna Wesley’s apron-over-head conversations with God. Thank you for the inference that writing triage starts with prayer: begin with the Word.

      • Thank you, Shirlee. Apron over head! I love that! I finished an article this morning … woohoo! But it would have never happened without that prayer closet (last night)!

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      We aren’t sure what happened, but hopefully everything is running smoothly now. Our comments were also going to SPAM, so I didn’t see any come in for my blog. :(

      Sounds like you might have two new family members to me… :D

  • Since I’m not published yet, Rachel, it’s mostly self-imposed. Still, a reminder that actual writing is at the top of the priority list is always in order.

  • Jill Kemerer says:

    I want more hours too! My biggest issue with my schedule involves my kids. The sports practices and games make it difficult! I’m investing in a smart phone soon. :)

  • It’s pretty simple for me.

    If I don’t write it, it won’t be written.

    If my work is truly God’s will for me to produce, and I don’t, I’m disobeying Him.

    Disobeying God is kind of dumb.

  • Sarah Sundin says:

    Triage is the perfect word to describe the author’s life too! No matter how carefully I plan out my calendar, each day gets flipped on its head. Every day I have to set new priorities, putting out fires first, then making sure on-deadline tasks stay on schedule, all while not neglecting less-pressing but still necessary tasks. Oh yes, and laundry.

  • Leah E. Good says:

    I’m currently working on self-publishing a book, so my daily triage has been implementing edits, communicating with editors and cover designers, and trying to balance that with “normal” life.

  • Thanks for the reminder that God always comes first. The days I rush in and start working without praying first are not as productive at the days I pray.

    Have a great weekend!

  • Sherry Kyle says:

    Yes, triage! No two days are alike for me, especially summertime with four almost grown kids in the house still needing their mom (me) for one thing or another. I love it, though, and they are my first priority (after God and my husband, of course). Writing is second. When I keep things in that order, than my days flow better. Of course, words don’t magically appear and I do have to sit in the chair—another hard thing for me. I like to keep moving. My body feels better when I do. Thanks for keeping it real, Rachel! That’s why you’re such an amazing agent.

  • Rachel, I totally get what you are saying. I hosted a few contests with an agent. When I wasn’t critiquing or line editing for someone I was helping new writers understand the business. The first month was a lot of fun. But like you said, there were not enough hours in the day. I felt like I couldn’t complete everything, which was frustrating. I’m a list maker kind of person. Crossing things off and moving to another project is something I thrive on, but there never seemed to be a stopping point. I gained a whole new perspective on what an agent does. Of course, I didn’t have anything to do with the sales part of agenting. It’s a huge never ending job. I thought it was something I wanted to do, but diving head first taught me where my joy lies…in writing and editing. Great post! I’m tweeting it.

  • Rather than give my writer’s triage (which tends to be based on the urgent rather than the important), I instead offer my poem on the subject.

    The Desperate Prayer of a Man Without Enough Hours in the Day
    Again
    I offer You
    this simple fix:
    Increase
    the daily hours
    to twenty-six.

  • Thank you so much for your comments, Rachel. I appreciate hearing your side of the story. I always want to be sensitive to your circumstances because, ultimately, an agent will help me with mine. Many blessings as you continue in your very important work.

  • Literary Triage:
    Being the worst wounded writer – does not always get you to the front of the line.

  • Thanks to Rachel and Books and Such for this post – very timely, if you’ll excuse the pun :)

    I had a reputable agent contact me out of the blue and request my full MS after he had read a chapter or so on a writer’s site. That was back in February.

    I’ve been trying not to worry about not hearing anything further, as I’ve heard that summer is a busy time for agents. But lately I have been feeling tempted to pop off an email asking if he still remembers me, and if he could perhaps let me know what he thought – i.e, why it’s a “No.”

    I hadn’t contacted him since I wasn’t sure of proper etiquette (since he initiated it all.)So it’s good to know that a polite email will probably be acceptable. Thanks!

    As for my triage system on writing – still trying to figure that one out.

  • I never thought of the routine as triage, exactly, but I suppose it is. If it’s Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I blog first. Those are the days I’ve committed to new posts, and that usually takes all my writing time on those days.

    Every other weekday morning, I use the time to answer emails, handle social media, and work on my manuscript. Unfortunately, however, there’s always more inspiration than time!

  • Wondering says:

    Hi Rachel, Do any of the other Books & Such agents feel that way about follow-up email? It says after 30 days silence it’s a “no,” but there’s that nagging worry that you may have been accidentally skipped over or forgotten in the flurry. :/

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