Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Ask Not What Your Agent Can Do For You, But What You Can Do For Yourself

One of the common questions we are asked as agents during conferences is "What do you do about career planning? In other words, when an author wants to sign with an agent, they want to know what that agent is going to do to launch their career, control their career and maintain their career. I always find this an interesting question because of one particular word - THEIR. In simple words, career planning for a writer starts with the writer.

Yes, agents are there to provide guidance, but it is up to you as the writer to know where you want to go. We can shape how you would get there, provide you a timeline, but you have to have that career in mind first.

I am seeing that right now with my son. He is a Junior and we are knee-deep in the middle of college searchers and yes, it is a struggle. Part of the reason is that he has had over 100 schools show some interest in him and his swimming career. This is overwhelming. As parents, we can work with him to navigate those waters. He is working with a great recruiting agent who can also guide his decisions, but, in the end, he has to be the one to really make some decisions:

  • What degree does he really want to pursue?
  • How large of a school is he really willing to look at?
  • How much of an impact does he want his swim career to have in his life?
  • How far away from home does he want to live?
  • Etc.
These are all decisions HE has to make. Yes, his mom and I have ideas of what we would want, but it is still his decision.

For writers wishing to do this as a profession, they too have to consider what they want. How much do they want to write? What type of stories do they want to tell? Where do they want to see their writing? How much of an impact do they want their writing to have on their family life? How much do they want to invest? Once they have those answers, the agents can sit down and guide where their career will head.

Now, if you are someone who is unclear as to how to answer those questions, this simply means that you are still in the middle of a learning phase. This would tell me you might not be ready to make that jump to professional writer yet. That's OK. There will still be opportunities out there when you are ready. But for now, it is time to learn and grow.

So as you begin your 2016 writing, start envisioning where you want to be and what it will take. Think about those goals you will have to keep to achieve those goals. It will not be easy so don't expect a quick answer.

But know this...Writing is something everyone can do. Being a professional writer is achievable. You have to be willing to work for it though.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back! As usual, a good post full of helpful advice.