What Drives Agents Crazy? Part 2
Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Connected with my post from yesterday, when I wrote about writers who try to glean free advice from agents, are writers who are in a pickle with their agent or publisher and need help to straighten out the mess. Often they’ll cast about for either a new agent or a new publisher and call a potential agent to discuss the issues that have left them floundering, unsure of how to deal with the situation.
Inherent in the discussion that author has with the potential new agent is the understanding that the agent who offers time and insight should be the agent you would choose to represent you when you’re available to make that decision.After all, this is the person who is making a significant investment of time and energy. (Unless you determine you don’t agree with the advice the agent gave, of course.)
But it’s crazy-making when you’re the one who helped the author out of a troubled relationship and then the author chooses another agent, one who offered no help.
In a related situation, an agent feels betrayed when he or she offers feedback to an author on a manuscript that boosts the writing to the publishable level–and the writer chooses another agent. Hello, who brought you to this dance?
Sometimes an agent turns down your manuscript because it isn’t ready, or because you haven’t found your writing voice. That doesn’t mean that person never wants to hear from you again. Yet writers often don’t go back to agents who have seen past material to ask if they’d like to take a look at something new. If your initial piece was close but not quite ready, the agent, who already is familiar with you and your writing, might well say he or she would be glad to take a look at a new manuscript.
Writers who don’t understand it cost an agent to give feedback
What’s the point of commonality in each of these crazy-making scenarios? The writer isn’t considering what it cost the agent to provide guidance, to give insight, and to respond to a manuscript or a situation.
Agents receive nothing in return for these investments, and on one hand, we understand that’s the way the system is set up. Yet sometimes it seems writers aren’t aware that what the agent gave cost the agent something. Every phone call, every proposal reviewed, every manuscript read takes the agent away from current clients–writers who are making money for themselves and for the agent.
Publishing relationships are like any relationship: Show respect for the other person’s talents, time and knowledge, just as you want to be treated in the same way.
In what ways could agents show more respect to writers?
How could writers show more respect to agents?