Some of the most common questions I receive, public and private, come from authors who have agents and want to know if their agent is normal. (The answer to that question is probably no–they are agents after all, but that’s not really what the author was asking).
Authors want to know if their agent is normal
Authors want to know if it’s normal for their agent to take four months to get back to them, if it’s normal for them to be vague about where they are submitting the author’s work or if it’s normal for their agent to tell them that they wouldn’t even use their current work in progress for kitty litter for fear of making the cat dumber.
I really respect these questions. When the only current depiction of agents in pop culture that I know of is Entourage’s Ari Gold (hilarious, but certainly not normal), it can be hard to know whether an agent is just being an agent or whether said agent isn’t looking out for the author’s best interest and/or is shady.
Throw in a manuscript that the author is emotionally invested in and it is a veritable powderkeg. When it gets dire people then want to know if they should leave their agent.
I really can’t answer these questions, and instead I ask a question in return (riddle me this!) Have you talked to your agent about it?
Talk to your agent
Don’t be scared of your agent! Your agent is not a delicate flower that only blooms once a year and will be scared back into the ground if you whisper in its direction.
- If you are uncomfortable, talk to your agent.
- If you are unhappy, talk to your agent.
Now, you don’t want to go overboard, and keep in mind that you should be calm and mature and cool and receptive, but trust me, your agent will greatly appreciate the opportunity to have a discussion with you and possibly make some changes before things spiral out of control.
Now, if you try to talk to your agent and you don’t hear back and/or things aren’t resolved to your satisfaction? Well, then you have to make a decision about whether to leave your agent. But you owe it to your agent to give them a shot at resolving differences and/or clearing up confusion before you start fishing for those other agents in the sea.
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Art: A Friendly Call by William Merritt Chase