PDA

View Full Version : is a book agent like a real estate agent or like a something else?



defyalllogic
06-21-2010, 10:01 PM
So for the people who have or had agents (or just work with, as, or around agents)....

is it like "i'll call you if i get some thing and we'll go back and fourth". or it it like, consignment, "you give me this to sell, i sell it, here's your cut." or maybe, "what are you looking for? here are realistic options. let's try avenue A."

or something different?

DeleyanLee
06-21-2010, 10:08 PM
Depends on the contract you sign and what you're both comfortable with on updating.

Some agents/writers will give status updates every time there is one, however long that is. Some will give a weekly/monthly/whatever's agreed upon update, regardless if there's news or not. Some just fall off the face of the earth and don't respond (these are usually the bad agents ;)).

Most agents I've talked to will discuss marketing options and get your thoughts, but that's again an individual thing. Some writers trust their agents absolutely, some don't. It all depends on the relationship between the individuals.

Publishers will send all payments to your agent, who will cut you a check minus their percentage, unless your contract(s) say to cut two different checks.

suki
06-21-2010, 10:10 PM
So for the people who have or had agents (or just work with, as, or around agents)....

is it like "i'll call you if i get some thing and we'll go back and fourth". or it it like, consignment, "you give me this to sell, i sell it, here's your cut." or maybe, "what are you looking for? here are realistic options. let's try avenue A."

or something different?

I think my relationship with my agent is more like the relationship between a client and her long term attorney, than working with a real estate agent or selling something on consignment.

There may be agents out there for whom the real estate agent or consignment shop owner analogy works, but I went looking for an agent with a broader view and for whom this first book is the first of (we hope) many we work on together.

So, for us, it's more like working with an attorney as the owner of a small business. It's my business, and I set the objectives and create the product, etc., but I look to the agent for advice and he handles the pitches and negotiations for the sale of the book. But it's more proactive and more long-term-focused than a real estate agent or a consignment shop owner.

In terms of communication, we keep each other informed, but it's more of a when I have news I'll get in touch pattern (though sometimes the communication is of the no news to report but keeping you updated kind).

~suki

Ryan_Sullivan
06-22-2010, 12:10 AM
As far as my experience goes, lit. agents work much more closely than that. It's more like "I'll help you add a room on your house and make it earthquake safe before we go sell it." As for the selling part...I can't say, since that's going to start now.

shaldna
06-22-2010, 12:20 PM
it really depends on your agent and your relationship with them.

A good agent will work with you to figure out what the ideal situation is, and then try to get it. Agents should never make a deal without consulting you, after all, it's a legal agreement and you need to sign it.

sissybaby
06-22-2010, 06:00 PM
sigh - I wish I knew the answer to your question. I have daydreams about it, but nothing in the realm of reality.

Hope you have first-hand answers when you start looking.

ChaosTitan
06-22-2010, 06:06 PM
I think my relationship with my agent is more like the relationship between a client and her long term attorney, than working with a real estate agent or selling something on consignment.

There may be agents out there for whom the real estate agent or consignment shop owner analogy works, but I went looking for an agent with a broader view and for whom this first book is the first of (we hope) many we work on together.

So, for us, it's more like working with an attorney as the owner of a small business. It's my business, and I set the objectives and create the product, etc., but I look to the agent for advice and he handles the pitches and negotiations for the sale of the book. But it's more proactive and more long-term-focused than a real estate agent or a consignment shop owner.

In terms of communication, we keep each other informed, but it's more of a when I have news I'll get in touch pattern (though sometimes the communication is of the no news to report but keeping you updated kind).

~suki

This pretty much sums it up for me, as well. It's difficult to compare what a lit agent does with any other profession, but small business attorney is pretty darn close.

Jamesaritchie
06-22-2010, 06:54 PM
If you're smart, it's a simple matter of "Here, take this manuscript and find a buyer."

The last this you want is writing advice or career advice from an agent. This can generate some short term sales, but it's also highly likely to kill your career in the long run.

CAWriter
06-22-2010, 07:20 PM
If you're smart, it's a simple matter of "Here, take this manuscript and find a buyer."

The last this you want is writing advice or career advice from an agent. This can generate some short term sales, but it's also highly likely to kill your career in the long run.

I know a number of well-published authors who wouldn't agree with this.

But as you can tell from the responses, there's no brief, all-encompassing answer regarding what the relationship is like. It varies from agent to agent and, with any given agent, from author to author. What works for me and what I like about my relationship with my agent, may not be what you like/need.

When you're new and you're looking for your first agent, it's hard to be 'picky,' but it probably is wise to think through the kind of relationship you hope for. Some are all-business all the time and won't really discuss anything but dollars, cents and deals with you and others want to know about the heart/passions behind what you write, will help you shape new ideas, remember your kids' names and send a card when your dog dies.

One isn't inherently better (or worse) than the other. The main thing is getting the one that works in the way that works best for you.

Toothpaste
06-22-2010, 07:26 PM
I know a number of well-published authors who wouldn't agree with this.




James is the only author I have known who has this attitude towards agents. Which is fine if it works for him, I always think that we have to find the system that best works for us as individuals. But then he applies it across the board for everyone else, implying that if they do take writing advice from agents or treat them as anything other than a mere employee, you are a gullible fool. Okay, not just implying. His last post did say that if you are "smart" you don't take writing advice from an agent. I must be the biggest idiot then. So must be I'd venture to say 90% of all agented published authors out there.

At any rate, I think there's merit to what James has to say about his method of working with agents, as I'm certain there are some authors out there who would prefer that setup. I just wish he wouldn't insult the rest of us in the process. Nor spout blatant untruths such as "it's also highly likely to kill your career in the long run".

djf881
06-22-2010, 07:36 PM
A literary agent is a talent agent

An agent has several roles:

1. You don't know people in publishing. Your agent does. Your agent knows which editors at which houses might like your book.

2. Your agent has credibility, and you don't. When you send your manuscript to a publisher telling them that it's great, they'll throw it in the trash without even opening it, because there are thousands of people who have lousy manuscripts they believe are awesome. Your agent has credibility, and she lays it on the line in recommending you. This is the only reason you even get considered.

3. Your agent knows the business and you don't. Your agent essentially covers the business side of your creative enterprise. That mostly involves dealing with the publisher. When it comes time to put a price on your book, your agent hopefully knows the market well enough to get you what you are worth.

4. Agents are publishing professionals and often have editorial experience. They can identify problems for you; the kind of problems that will cause editors to turn down your manuscript. James is right though, that you should be the one who decides how to fix those problems, and most agents will not be interested in rewriting your book

CAWriter
06-22-2010, 08:31 PM
James is the only author I have known who has this attitude towards agents. Which is fine if it works for him, I always think that we have to find the system that best works for us as individuals. But then he applies it across the board for everyone else, implying that if they do take writing advice from agents or treat them as anything other than a mere employee, you are a gullible fool. Okay, not just implying. His last post did say that if you are "smart" you don't take writing advice from an agent. I must be the biggest idiot then. So must be I'd venture to say 90% of all agented published authors out there.

At any rate, I think there's merit to what James has to say about his method of working with agents, as I'm certain there are some authors out there who would prefer that setup. I just wish he wouldn't insult the rest of us in the process. Nor spout blatant untruths such as "it's also highly likely to kill your career in the long run".

Well said.

shaldna
06-22-2010, 10:56 PM
Well said.


i second that

Ryan_Sullivan
06-23-2010, 03:02 AM
If you're smart, it's a simple matter of "Here, take this manuscript and find a buyer."

The last this you want is writing advice or career advice from an agent. This can generate some short term sales, but it's also highly likely to kill your career in the long run.

Sarcasm? If not, it's the most absurd post I've seen on this board to date.