Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Author/Agent Relationship

There was a bit of a foul up in scheduling at my job, so after juggling with airlines, hotels, etc., I am hailing to you today from sunny Denver. Thank God I dropped my dry cleaning off last week. We're not going to discuss the clean underwear situation.......

Topic of the day - the author/agent relationship

Since I am in Denver, home of my fabulous agent, Kristin Nelson, I was thinking about agents and the industry and remembered a few conversations I've had with people over their relationship with their agents and with some unagented about their expectations.

I'm going to start this discussion off by saying - I'm completely and totally spoiled. I have the absolute best agent in the business.

No, it can't be so, some of you scream. My agent is fabulous too and yours can't be better than mine.

Yes, she can............for me.

Every agent has a different way of interacting with their clients. Some like to hang out and have drinks and chit chat about business and stuff of personal interest; with some it is strictly business. Some agents like to give editorial input; some take the product and market it without so much as a comment.

Which is better? It depends on you.

I was talking once about doing revisions for Kristin, when another pubbed author at DARA said "you do revisions for your agent?" She was a bit incredulous at the fact then went on to say "I don't want any opinion from my agent on my work. I just want her to sell it." Okay, I can respect that. She's certainly not the only author I've heard that from and probably won't be the last, but it's just not something I agree with at all.

Sometimes I think the issue of editorial input from an agent is a trust issue. Of course, your agent wants you to succeed - then they succeed, but do they really have the knowledge to guide you in tightening your manuscript to perfection. Maybe, maybe not. I know Kristin's track record and I say absolutely she's gives the best critique's I've ever gotten, and my cp's are no slouches. But Kristin comes from a different perspective. She knows intimately every aspect of her business - what is selling hot, what just sold two different time, etc. And believe you me, she can wring the best story out of you until you're passed out on the floor, gasping for air.

I LOVE Kristin's editorial input. She makes me look like a genius! :) When my editor, Leah, called me after I accepted the offer from Dorchester, she said something to the effect of "I was so excited about buying this book for two reasons - one, it's fantastic and two, it needs no work."

A debut novel that didn't need revisions - it went straight to line edits. And I'm not Kristin's only client who has experienced that luxury. Also, Kristin's reputation is great among editors. They love to receive submissions from her because they know how hard she is and that the quality will be there.

Editorial input is a decision that's completely up to you. As a new author, I highly recommend gaining the expertise of someone who knows far more than you do about what sells. So when you're getting your query letters ready, do some asking around. Find out how involved certain agents like to be with their clients and their client's work, then decide what fits best for you.


Jaye Wells said...

I've heard wonderful things about Kristin from many sources. And of course her blog is a treasure trove.

Jana DeLeon said...

You're right, Jaye, her blog is a fantastic source for industry how-to's.

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