Blogger: Wendy Lawton
One of the questions we are most often asked at conferences is how many clients we represent. Most agents skirt this question because it is difficult to put into context in a short question-and-answer period. But here, with all the blog bandwidth I care to take, let me tackle this question.
Most of us could give a simple answer. For instance, at this moment, I represent fifty-eight clients. I am seriously considering five more. It sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Let me put it in context. Of those fifty-eight, twenty-two are successfully tucked into multi-book contracts. I’m currently shopping or preparing to shop seventeen of those clients’ projects. Nineteen clients are inactive at this point— either taking a break or working to come up with the next big idea. So while fifty-eight may sound like a lot, they are in different need-stages at any one time.
I’m guessing I’m on the low side of CBA agents. Many run from seventy-five clients to well over a hundred. I like to stay right around fifty active clients. I’m struggling to do that right now because I’m seeing such exciting potential out there, I’m having trouble saying no. As Rachelle said in her blog, “If it seems like we’re too busy, it’s because the economics of this industry demand we carry a certain amount of volume to make a living wage.”
I’m also guessing I’m on the high side of ABA agents. Because they deal primarily with the bigger publishers and are not called to take on financially-modest/ministry-rich projects, they can afford to take fewer clients. We, in the CBA, would never give up our labor-of-love projects and clients. For us, this job is part work, part ministry.
And the number of clients an agent takes on has a lot to do with how many complicated careers we represent. The more uber-clients, the less an agent can add to her list. The bigger the career, the more time it takes.
Sounds like a lot of clients? I’m guessing my clients will tell you that I do a pretty fair job of staying on top of things and keeping my nose in their careers. The area that gets the short shrift is in handling queries and not-yet-client inquiries. We always care for our clients first and do client acquisition in the time left over. It’s one of the reasons Books & Such has made a big commitment to daily blogging. It’s our way of giving back when we can’t do it individually.
Feedback time: Does the number sound staggering to you? Is it less than you expected? Do you wonder why we keep inactive clients? Ask away.