I've been reading a lot about people complaining about agents lately. And some of it is justified. Some of it is not. And it hasn't just come from writers. It has come from editors and other agents as well. But for this post I am just going to focus on the author-agent relationship.
Now, I have an agent. And she is an exceptional agent. In general as well as to me personally. She is my dream agent and I know a lot of people who would kill to have her.
However, I also know several people who already have an agent--a dream agent even--and they are still frustrated. Why? Because for some reason, their sense of reality is skewed and they are looking for an In-Your-Dreams Agent.
Let's start on the positive side. Here are a few (just a few) reasons why Jodi is my dream agent.
1. She has a very strong sales record. There are bestsellers as well as mid-listers on her list and she specializes in at least one of the genres in which I write.
2. I have spoken with other client/s and they recommend her whole-heartedly.
3. She works at a reputable house and has for a long time. (I get a little worried about agents, even good ones, who bounce from house to house. Really, why change so much? Are they getting fired or just impossible to please? Either way, I am not impressed.)
4. She had the good sense to sign with me. (Hahahahahaha!!!! Ooh, just sec--let me wipe the tears away. Ah, okay. Let's continue.)
5.She doesn't charge me anything.
6. She returns my e-mails promptly. (I think her record is two days, and she had a reason for that delay.)
7. She reminds me often that her phone is always open to me.
8. She likes my writing and tells me so whenever I am feeling discouraged.
9. She always offers great critiques and really understands my writing.
10. She told me from the beginning that she was in it for the long haul, not just one book.
Things my agent does NOT do and that I should not expect her to do.
1. Talk to me on the phone every day.
2. E-mail me every day.
3. Read my manuscripts or revisions overnight.
4. Answer my e-mails within minutes.
5. Listen (or read) to me whine about things she has no control over.
6. Be available on weekends/holidays/vacations/etc.
7. Sell every book I write for a six-figure advance/pre-empt/auction/etc.
8. Sell every book I write, period.
9. Make me her best friend, tell me all about her personal life, etc.
10. Make me her top priority all the time.
Honestly, if my agent did all of the things on the second list, I would start to worry that not only was I her only client, but also the only person in her entire life. And that would be scary.
Do you know how many clients your agent has? I was curious the other day so I did two things. I logged on to Querytracker.com and went to their "Who Reps Who" section. And found every author listed as being repped by Jodi. Then I went to Amazon and searched for her name and found more. (They have a quote from the acknowledgments page.) In less than an hour I found over twenty clients and I am positive there are more that I didn't find. That's a lot of careers to manage!
So whether you are a big fish in a small pool, a small fish in a big pool, or something in between, remember that you are still just one fish. Agents are human. They have lives, just like the rest of us. So if your agent treats you and your writing with courtesy, respect, and enthusiasm and you are still not happy, maybe you need to seriously consider that the problem may not lie with them.