Blogger: Cynthia Ruchti
Ten years ago, I thought I knew what an agent did with his or her time.
As an aspiring writer, I sat through every agent panel at conferences and soaked up their wisdom (most of it coming from Books & Such agents, of course).
I followed this and other agent blogs, made appointments with various agents at conferences, and observed until I’d determined what agent qualities most appealed to me.
Then I prayed and worked toward becoming the kind of author God and my dream agent would want to champion.
I thought I knew what an agent did.
But I’ve looked at life from both sides now.
Within this first month as a Books & Such agent, I’ve seen the 4D High Definition sonogram of agenting, compared to the simple black-and-white version I knew before.
Here’s what I now know:
- The behind-the-scenes hours that agents work on behalf of their clients and prospective clients—whether clients hear from them or not—is astronomical.
- The decision to represent a client is more layered than:
- And almost all of those layers relate to what’s best for the client.
- An agent sings your book’s praises long before it becomes a book.
- Good agents sometimes have to disappoint their friends.
- A good agent is a missionary raising his/her own support, serving before being compensated for the investment of time, serving for the love of books and their authors, and the power of story.
- Agents don’t say “no” lightly.
- Agents don’t say “yes” lightly. So much is at stake.
- The agents I know care more deeply than an author imagines.
- Good agents never unplug from learning mode.
As an author, I have an even greater respect for agents than I did before.
Stepping into an agent’s shoes, I have even more reason to trust my agent’s career counsel. It’s hard-fought wisdom sifted from tailings other miners abandoned.
And at least at this agency–Books & Such, God is consulted at every juncture and honored above all.
I will wait more patiently when waiting is the prescribed course of action. There’s always a reason.
What’s the “both sides” connection?
If a month in this role has taught me so much, moved me, granted me a 4D view of what I’d only known in 2D before, what would happen if each of us—published or unpublished, on the office chair side of the desk or the visitor’s chair, serving any role in the industry—considered our every action and attitude from a 4D perspective, not merely black-and-white?
What if we saw our projects from an agent’s perspective, knowing his or her career depended on its quality?
And what if we viewed our quick online purchase from the perspective of a retailer who had to let his favorite staff member go for lack of store traffic?
Or what if we thought like a publisher or a marketing manager when creating our masterpieces?
What if we remembered that behind every rejection is careful consideration from a person who takes no pleasure in saying no?
Whose role in the industry would you like to understand better? What would help you see their concerns in higher definition?