A few weekends ago a NYT bestseller came to speak at our local RWA group and she answered all of our questions with utter honesty. One of the questions was about her relationships with different agents. She's had some good ones and some bad ones but she said with the one she has now it was the first time she actually felt agented.
This got me to thinking...do I feel agented? The answer quickly for me is a resounding yes.
But why do I feel agented? She sells my books - but is that enough? The answer quickly there was no. What are the elements besides selling my books that makes Pam Hopkins such a great agent for me?
1. She's not my friend. We're chatty. Sometimes we gossip, she's VERY friendly and warm and I like her a lot - but everything comes back around to business. I think this is important. Sometimes, after a glass of wine too many - I feel awkward, because I want secretly to be best friends with everyone, but it's business. Good business.
2. She subtly and not so subtly pushes me. I was having babies and writing Superromances and life was pretty good but after every book I turned in she'd send me an email saying - I know you're busy now, but you really need to think about single title. Every time. I never pushed her into thinking about my single title career, she was there all the time with the next steps in mind. An agent should see your worth and hopefully your trajectory. The NYT bestseller at the meeting had a conversation with an agent who had been selling a lot of her books but the writer wanted more and the agent said "not everyone can be a star." Your agent should think you can be a star...
3. She helped my work. Pam is not an editorial person and I didn't want an agent who was going to critique my stuff - I have lots of critique partners - I wanted an agent who would look at my stuff and critique it's salability. Her comments on my proposals were always things like "I don't think this works. This won't sell." She's the one having conversations with editors - she knows what they want and she helped me match my work to that need/want.
4. Respected in the business. Sometimes we don't know how our agent is viewed in the wider world - but considering the respectful and warm business relationship she has with me, I can guess she has the same relationship with editors. If your agent crosses a line in your mind with you or another author - red flags should go up. She hasn't burned any bridges. And as much as writers want to write for editors like Shauna Summers and Jennifer Enderlin, agents want to work with them too and should be building relationships with every editor despite being thorns in thier sides when it comes to contract negotiations.
5. As your career changes so should thier services. This is new to me. Moving into single title I am getting a whole different service from Pam. Wait...maybe that's not true. It's the same service but more of it. She's always been the middle man between me and my editors but now she is more so. In more ways. Tuesday she has a conversation with my editor about what the publisher is doing about promotion...that's never happened before. And I think it should. Promotion is a freaking big deal and a big freaking mystery. And almost no writer I know feels like they've gotten a great answer from thier publisher. Please, tell me if you have...
6. Despite how little money I made or make for Pam, I feel important. Writing catagory I wasn't making Pam much money - like almost none. But I always felt like I could call her. I might be uncomfortable doing it, but that was me, not her. We should feel like our agents - no matter if we're making NO money or ooodles of money - work with us. So many authors I know after a couple of manuscripts don't sell - the agents stop calling. Or returning emails. Wow. Really?
Now, sometimes questions in emails don't get answered. And sometimes it takes a day for an email to get answered. Sometimes I feel all alone in the world - but I'm a writer, I'm bat shit crazy on a good day.
Anyway - those are my thoughts. Do you feel supported by your agent? Why? What do you wish was different?