Blogger: Rachel Kent
One of my clients responded to a message I sent to check in with her about what was going on in her writing life with what felt to her like a confession. She has been meaning to finish her project for a few months now but hasn’t been able to because of life circumstances. I didn’t know what was going on, and she said she felt much better once her “guilt” was out in the open. This situation of communication breakdown was not a big deal, but it is nice to know that the two of us are on the same page now. I know not to expect her project for a little while, and she knows that I’m aware of what is going on and that I’m okay with her taking more time. (This is an uncontracted project; being behind with a contracted manuscript is a whole other situation.)
It’s very important to keep the communication flowing with your agent. It really does help everyone to avoid unnecessary stress. A lot of times lack of communication leads to piles of extra work for everyone involved because a small situation spirals out of control. Things can even get emotional. An author can end up feeling ignored, but the agent doesn’t realize the client is upset because he or she is assuming that the author would contact said agent if there was a need. This is especially true for a client who is under a multi-book contract; silence means all is going well.
Communicating with potential agents is also important. Even if you aren’t represented yet, if you have established a relationship with an agent and that agent is either reviewing your project or waiting for you to submit a project, then you should be in some communication with them if the need arises. I think it’s important to check in with an agent if you haven’t heard from him or her within 6-8 weeks of submitting your project. Just send a polite email asking for an update. If you don’t receive a response, you could phone because your emails might be going into SPAM. Again, be polite and keep it brief.
The other reason you should communicate with a potential agent is if some life circumstance is keeping you from sending your requested submission. Agents do request projects because they want to see them; so it’s a courtesy to let that agent know if you anticipate a considerable delay in submitting.
What situation have you been in that was caused by lack of communication?
What holds you back from communicating with your agent or a potential agent?