4 Things I’ve Learned about the Writer-Agent Relationship

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by Beth K. Vogt

Today I’m talking agents.

Why agents? Well, I have one, so that’s one qualification for writing this blog post. And we’ve navigated me switching from the nonfiction to the fiction side of the writing road – what I like to call the “Dark Side.” Funny story: My agent found out I was writing a novel because I showed up a local ACFW event where she was speaking. Her reaction to seeing me amongst all the novelists was a welcoming smile and a curious, “Why are you here?”

So with six years together – and one genre change – here’s what I’ve learned about the writer-agent relationship:

1. I am not my agent’s only client. Surprise! I wish my publishing contracts were enough to keep my agent busy all day long, but it’s not happening. Whenever she calls me, my agent makes me feel like she would rather talk to me than anyone else in the entire publishing world. Really. She does. If I send an email and it isn’t answered within 24 … or 48 … or 72 hours … or longer, I remind myself that my agent isn’t ignoring me. And she also isn’t sitting in her office drafting an “I’m so done with you” email. I tell my fragile ego to relax and remember she’s busy with something or someone else.

2. I can take my agent’s advice … or leave it. But if I’m wise, I’ll take it. I’m living my dream and pursuing a writing career. Yes, it’s beneficial to talk things out with writing friends and with my mentors. But ultimately, I have to put all those opinions on the table and consider them in light of my agent’s publishing wisdom and savvy – and how well she knows me. After all, it’s called agent “representation” for a reason.
You Made Me Love You

3. I’m human – and so is my agent. My agent knows when I need a pat on the back or a verbal push forward. She’s hauled me off virtual ledges and adjusted my unrealistic expectations for both this industry and myself. Sometimes she’s lost track of an email that I’ve labeled IMPORTANT – but guess what? Apologies were made and life went on.

4. I trust my agent. The day I doubt her integrity and her commitment to me as a writer, well, that’s the day we sit down over chips and salsa and our beverage of choice on ice and talk things out. But I don’t see that happening. I mean, the chips and salsa date? Anytime. Not trusting her? Can’t imagine it. Ever.

Knowing my agent has other clients, that she offers me knowledgeable advice, that she’s human just like me – all of that is critical to the writer-agent relationship. But knowing that my agent is trustworthy? That’s the key element of our relationship – because if I didn’t trust her, there would be no relationship.

What qualities do you think are important for a writer-agent relationship?

Beth Vogt April 2013Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best is often behind the doors marked “Never.” Beth’s first contemporary romance novella, You Made Me Love You, releases this month. Her third novel, Somebody Like You – Can a young widow fall in love with her husband’s reflection? – releases in May 2014.

Comments 0

  1. Beth, you’ve been reading my mail…or my mind. I wrote my (one and only) non-fiction book before I gained representation by my agent, and its been fiction ever since, ‘s I’ve never gone through a genre switch with her. But other than that, your thoughts mirror mine. These are things with which I’ve had to come to grips, and I suspect most writers have shared them as well. Thanks for voicing them. Agents–like writers–are human, and we have a common goal. I appreciate your sharing.

  2. Richard, I didn’t we realize we had the genre-switch in common. Hmmm. Now I’m wondering if we had the whole “I’ll never write fiction” promise in common too?
    And yes, I’m human, my agent is human — but I’m beginning to suspect she’s super-human when it comes to the publishing industry!

  3. Beth, never made the “I’ll never write fiction” promise to myself, but I did give up writing fiction–that was just before I got my agent. God must really have a sense of humor.

  4. This was great, Beth. Thank you! And congrats on your book release this month. I have written one nonfiction … thought I’d never care to write fiction … but my daughter encouraged me to give fiction a whirl, and I’m in love! It was great going into another world in my head. Ha!

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