Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Question from a Writer - Agent Concerns

I am currently represented by an awesome agent. This is by no means a bash on that person at all! In fact I had a list of top three agents I wanted and this agent, you and one other made up that list (you were closed to submissions at the time).

When this agent and I joined up, I was obviously very excited. Still am. But at this time, I'm wondering if I made the right choice? I have multiple first books for series done with the sequels and sequentials ready for proposals. I have so many marketing ideas (that was one of my degrees) coming out the ying that I have no idea where I stored the yang.

How long is too long for an agent to have one of your MSs? Can you have multiple submissions out at once? I write romantic suspense and contemporary romance and I write four books a year. I feel like I'm going much faster than my agent and I'm worried this person may not be able to keep up with me? Is that normal? I really want to attack this and get going. Am I being too ambitious in an industry where the P stands for Patience, Please?

First of all, I am excited that I made the top three of your list. It's always good to hear that from a writer.

Now, as to your question, I would simply encourage you to call and discuss your concerns with you agent. I always remind people that the definition of communication is "the getting and giving of information." I am wondering if your agent knows your concerns right now. There is a pretty good chance that the agent is simply moving at the pace that he or she believes you want to work.

One of my writers is currently working through an 8 book contract with her publisher. When we discussed what the author was interested in, the editor simply said that she had not pushed more books because she believed that was what the author wanted. Now that she knew what the author was interested in, she could change her plans.

As to your concern of all the books you are producing and the speed in which the stories are going out, that is something that varies from one agent to the next. Some only like to throw single projects out there at a time. Some like to throw out a lot of projects in different directions to see which sticks. Again, not knowing the agent or the situation, this is something that you would want to bring up in your discussion.

As for the time an agent would have a project, that all depends on the story. Remember that just because you have an agent does not mean that the project will immediately be sold. It takes time for agents as well to sell a project to an editor. I am assuming you are asking this because the project is being marketed. Now, if you are asking the question because you are waiting for feedback, I would again bring up the issue of communications. Simply ask. Sometimes projects get lost.

For myself, I always tell my authors to stay on my radar. The more I know of what they are doing, the more I tend to keep up with their submissions. We're talking about the idea of "out of sight, out of mind."

I think the biggest thing I am stressing here is to call and talk to the agent. Discuss your concerns, discuss what you want to do and see what happens. If, after all of that, you find that the approach is not what you want, then it is fine to change agents. I would have to say though, before you do that and dive in with another agent, you need to do your research and find someone that has the approach to business and publishing that you need and want.

Hope that helps.



  1. Thanks for the post, Scott. I don't have a literary agent yet but I've had an acting agent - one I was with until he died and another after. And it is so true - if you can't talk to your agent, then that's not a good sign. And sometimes you don't find out until you're already in it.

  2. Hey, chiming in here. First of all, your agent probably wants to make some smart, strategic decisions. This is will only help you. Second, is there a reason to rush all of this material out there? I was in a similar situation with an author who pressured me to send her material out. We sold 10 projects in a year and now she's simply EXHAUSTED and BURNED OUT. We're now turning down renewals of contracts so she can focus on the projects that she really loves. Remember, this is not a sprint, it's a marathon. Each project that goes out is a calling card for both the author and the agent, so it better be dynamite. Hope this helps.

  3. Just adding my two bits.

    Communication can solve a lot of problems in this world, but why would someone want to submit so many projects all at once.

    Sounds stressful. Doens't seem to leave time for anything else, and I do love to write.


  4. Thanks for the additional spin on things Paige. I appreciate the additional point of view on this!