Choosing the Perfect A-List Client
Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Happy May Day. How many of you remember making cornucopias of paper doilies, filling them with flowers and tying them to someone’s door handle? Anyone?
I’m finishing my series on what I look for in a client. Over the last three Tuesdays, I talked about what catches my eye with an unpublished author; a newly- published author; and a solid, much-in-demand, published author. Today I’ll talk about the mega-author. I represent a number of best-selling authors, one who regularly hits #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. It is often said that all agents would love to have nothing but A-List authors on their lists. That’s probably said by those who don’t understand what is involved in representing an author with a big career.
Representing best-selling authors is very different from representing most up-and-coming authors. The bestseller usually has a whole team, and every decision has a number of people invested in the outcome. Communication can be complicated. Weighing all the ramifications of every opportunity and each challenge is paramount. You’ll often have far more opportunities than the author can ever entertain, but each possibility takes time to consider and either pursue or decline. When an agent has a handful of best-selling authors, just fielding possibilities and deflecting inappropriate requests takes time.
So what do I look for in considering authors with big careers? The most important thing is deciding if I have time to do the author and my other clients justice. There are a finite number of authors we should take at each career level. The A-List author is no different. Before I seek to represent an author with a big career or a ministry with an extensive publishing arm, I make sure I have the time, energy and creativity to do it justice.
A newer author may wonder if it’s wise to sign with an agent who represents the “big names.” Will he get less attention? That’s a valid question, but one of the reasons I decided to write about the different career levels and what we look for in each is that a wise agent will build a practice that includes all levels. Our A-List clients give us leverage to negotiate better terms on our contract templates–which benefit all our clients. Plus we have a certain leverage with publishers who would love to talk to us about our best-sellers. I rarely have a conversation about my in-demand clients in which I don’t introduce the editor or publisher to one of my newer writers. Leverage.
In an agency that is intentionally collaborative like Books & Such, our more experienced clients offer that much-needed perspective to our newer writers. And we all become marketing partners for each other.
Now that I’ve talked about what I look for in seeking the perfect client, it’s your turn. What constitutes the perfect agent? If you were to design your dream agent, what would he or she look like?
P.S. Our contest to win a Kindle Fire for subscribing to our blog closed yesterday. We’ll be selecting the winner via a random drawing today and announcing that winner Monday, May 7, when Janet is back in the office. Check in to see if you’re the winner.