All in a Day’s Work
Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
I enjoyed Wendy’s post yesterday about how agents spend their time. She did a great job of describing how agents work on their clients’ behalf, and I wanted to add my own two cents to further explain how we organize our days.
People frequently ask me about a typical day for an agent. I think most agents will tell you — there are no typical days! With a large number of clients, working on a variety of projects, all in various stages of writing or publication, the days provide endlessly changing excitement.
While agents always have a long to-do list, our most important job is to be responsive to our clients’ needs, as Wendy explained. The email box is always full, and fires erupt and need dousing with alarming regularity. So we begin each day with a “plan” and an awareness that we could end the day having not accomplished anything we’d planned.
I try to be aware of what’s important, what’s urgent, what’s both and what’s neither. (Remember those categories when you email your agent. Your situation will be prioritized along with everything else on her desk!) Whenever possible, I organize my days according to my priority list:
1. Contracts and Payments.
Fielding offers, negotiating deals, scrutinizing contracts, discussing clauses and terms with publishers, walking clients through their contracts, making sure the contract gets executed properly. Following up on advance and royalty payments, making sure publishers pay clients in a timely manner, examining royalty statements for accuracy.
2. Submitting projects to publishers.
Working with authors to prepare their proposals and manuscripts; preparing lists of editors to whom we’ll submit; getting projects out to publishers; following up appropriately.
3. All other client-related work.
Answering random questions; reading their latest work and offering feedback; coaching on marketing, promotion, career planning; brainstorming ideas for future projects; handling interaction with their publishers on everything from titles to book covers to extended deadlines and more; being a listening ear whenever necessary.
4. Finding new clients.
Reading incoming queries, reading requested manuscripts, talking with potential clients on the phone. This also includes proactively pursuing authors I’d like to represent.
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As you can see, a wide variety of tasks can come up on any given day. I tend to handle tasks in categories 1, 2, and 3 during business hours. Nights and weekends are for incoming queries, reading manuscripts (clients and potential clients), and blogging.
If you’re an unpubbed writer, you might be dismayed that reading incoming queries is the bottom of the priority list. When you’re seeking representation, you’re not top priority.
However, that’s great news. It means that once you become a client, you are now the agent’s top priority.
While there’s no such thing as “typical” and it often feels more like a circus complete with juggling and high-flying trapeze acts, one thing is consistent: The needs of my clients determine the trajectory of each day.
→Are you surprised that reading incoming queries and considering new clients are at the bottom of the priority list?
→From the perspective of a writer, what do you think should be an agent’s top priorities?
→Can you think of anything I’ve left out of this post?
Here’s a glimpse into a day in the life of an agent. Click to Tweet.
How do agents prioritize the tasks in their day? Click to Tweet.