Unpublished Writers being friends with Agents

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jonxihama

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Agent Laura Zats posted a recent twitter thread about agents being friends with writers: . What are your thoughts?

There are definitely agents that are the same type of nerd as me and I'd like to be friends with. As in, if I weren't a querying author and they weren't an agent, I would still want to be friends with them. But I think there is a strange power dynamic and potentially awkward situation that can occur if an unpubbed writer and agent are friends. This is probably extreme, but I've gone as far as to avoid interacting with agents who've rejected my full unless I have a really good reason to. Again, this is probably extreme behavior but I'm just really shy :cry:
 

lizmonster

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I don't think that's extreme at all.

In my travels I've been friended by a couple of agents on social media. I am very careful about my interactions with them. I don't want them to feel like I'm asking for something, obliquely or otherwise. I will Like tweets, and sometimes they'll Like mine, but I rarely make direct replies, and I never DM them.

Agents are, like you and I, individuals, and they'll have different boundaries around this sort of thing. I do what I'm comfortable with.
 
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jonxihama

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I am very careful about my interactions with them. I don't want them to feel like I'm asking for something, obliquely or otherwise.
This is so validating to hear. I think the exact same way. I'm very wary of crossing a boundary especially on social media, where just text can be hard to interpret.
 

Lakey

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Is this about being real-life friends with agents, or social media friends?

My partner's best friend married a literary agent. We see them a few times a year. I happen to adore her. But I never ask her to read anything and only rarely talk about writing with her (sometimes she asks me how it's going). When/if the novel I'm working on is at a stage where I'm ready to think of querying it, I will probably ask for her advice, but won't offer it to her to read unless she specifically asks. As lizmonster said, I don't want to overstep. Also, in a more mercenary way, I don't want to squander that connection. If she's as fond of me as I am of her (I hope she is!) she might be willing to read my manuscript as a favor. But it's not a favor she'll do twice -- I don't want to cash it in too soon.

I had a cousin who was a literary agent--actually there was a family business, founded by two of my great aunts, but the agency closed up when my cousin (the daughter of one of those aunts) retired. Still, that was also a connection I hoped to make the most of, as she might know people still in the business, and, well, her life history was such that the subject matter of my novel might have been rather familiar to her. Unfortunately she passed away before I had the chance. That's what I get for being shy of showing my manuscript too soon (yes, the opposite of what I said above; that's just the hell of it).

I know a few professional editors as well -- content editors, not acquisition editors. Same story -- I don't want to abuse the connection, but I'll take advantage of it if the opportunity is offered to me.

:e2coffee:
 

ChaseJxyz

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If you become friends in the Regular Way and they just happen to also be agents, then there's nothing wrong with that. But if you seek them out to be friends BECAUSE they are agents, then that's pretty sus.

What Liz is describing is being "mutuals" on social media: you both follow each other, you like each other's stuff, you might comment on each others posts, but not much more than that. Some people consider that friendship, some don't. That isn't boundary breaking if it happens naturally.

I have several friends who do art for a living, and people will constantly reach out to them and try to be friends JUST to get free art. I'm sure this happens all the time with agents and unpublished authors, and I'm quite sure they are very tired of that. So, you know, don't do that.
 
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Harlequin

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I think it's fine if you both find it fine. One of my writer friends is casual friends with my agent... they've met in person, and chatted at conferences. She has queried ND (and been rejected) a few times but they don't seem to find it odd or difficult.

But I admit I find it hard. I've always kept my distance, and perhaps always taken Brandon Sanderson's advice to heart: that publishing is not your friend. Enjoy their company, get on, have good relationships, but also look out for your own interests, because they will be looking out for theirs to a point.
 

Nether

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I personally wouldn't have an issue befriending a literary agent; however, in my day-to-day life I'm unlikely to ever meet one, and I generally stay away from the toxic cesspool that is social media.

But I think there is a strange power dynamic and potentially awkward situation that can occur if an unpubbed writer and agent are friends.

I don't necessarily think that's true, unless the agent is using their position to request favors an unpub'd author normally wouldn't do or making promises they don't intend to keep.

This is probably extreme, but I've gone as far as to avoid interacting with agents who've rejected my full unless I have a really good reason to. Again, this is probably extreme behavior but I'm just really shy :cry:

Not for nothing, but the whole personal connection has helped some authors get an agent. And both agents and authors want to work with people they like and trust.

That aside, if you're working with an agent (or plan to work with an agent) and they're also a friend, there probably need to be some boundaries on both sides.
 

litdawg

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When I was querying, I followed a dozen or so agents on Twitter to see what they were like. Most were fairly one-dimensional users--professional, boosting selves, agency, and their clients. Totally fair, but boring. After I was agented, I stopped following them. But a few agents managed to stay on my timeline. One doesn't rep my field, but I really like her posts. Another is a heavy hitter in my genre who I never had the chance to query since she was closed the entire time I was seeking representation. Her twitter has very little on book industry and a whole lot to do with a topic that is a niche interest I share. So I still follow her. Neither of these connections are friends, just friendly and mutual enjoyment. Seems fine to me. Litdawg, unpublished but represented.
 

Silenia

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Social media mutuals wouldn't really be an issue to me (if I actually were remotely active on non-forum social media, anyway) if it's the typical superficial social media level acquaintanceship where you like some of each other's posts, maybe leave a short comment every now and then and don't really have all that much more contact than you and that random neighbour half a street over you nod at in passing, occasionally talk with about the weather, local road construction efforts and similar safe subjects, and wish a happy new years and similar season-appropriate well-wishes in the season.

If it's one of those cases where it grows into something deeper than that, though...well, it wouldn't be a problem, but it would remove that specific agent from the list of agents I'd ever query. Professional and personal relationships typically don't mix well, and even if they do initially, can cause so many issues if they start fraying that it'd simply not be worth it to me.
 

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