Life With An Agent

Before I had an agent, I always wondered what an author-agent relationship would be like. How often would we talk? How would we mesh? Would we be able to build rapport?

I knew I’d enter the working relationship like any inexperienced employee: grateful, humble, and teachable. I’d labor hard, earn respect, and try to one day make my agent glad she took a chance on me.

I’m not there yet by any means. But in the few short months I’ve worked with my agent, it's my hope that we're off to a mutually satisfying partnership.

I’m sure there are no two author-agent relationships that are identical. But here's a glimpse into what my life's been like with my agent so far:

For very important communication we talk on the phone. Sometimes we may talk a couple of times a week when there's a lot going on with my book proposal, and other times a month may go by. This week Rachelle gave me a call and patiently explained a few publishing terms I didn't understand.

For less urgent communication we use email. On average, I receive one or two emails per week from Rachelle or WordServe. Of course this is a hectic time planning for the ACFW conference as well as working out details of my book proposal. Once I’m past this busy stage, I don’t expect I’ll need to communicate with Rachelle as frequently.

For every-day exchanges we stay in touch via twitter. Sometimes when I tweet, Rachelle will respond to me, most often through a direct message. There are times when I respond to her tweets the same way. It's a quick and fun way to stay in touch.

One of the things I appreciate most about Rachelle is how quickly she responds to any of my concerns. Night or day, weekday or weekend, Rachelle always emails back. And she's gone out of her way to talk to me no matter where she's at. One time she was literally driving out of town to go camping with her family and she still took the time to chat about my proposal.

Among agent blogs, I've run across the term HMC (high maintenance client). I'm not exactly sure what classifies an author as high maintenance, but I'd hate to ever deserve such a label.

If we exude confidence, take initiative, and work diligently, then maybe we can avoid burdening busy agents. Most of all we need to realize when they take on a new author, they're not getting paid to help us, at least not initially. So, I don't believe we have any right to be demanding, but every reason to be extremely grateful.

I'll have the opportunity to meet my agent for the first time next week. We'll both be attending ACFW in Denver. I'm really excited that I'll be able to finally thank Rachelle in person for all that she's done for me!

What do you expect in an author-agent relationship? What's the most important quality you hope to find (or have found) in an agent?


  1. Great post Jody! Thank you for the inside view of things. I would hope to be professional and easy to work with, but confident also. I agree about Rachelle's accessibility and thoughtfulness. I would hope to either get her or another agent who's helpful like that.
    Responding is a biggie for me. I don't need answers right away, but I'm paranoid so I would need to know somehow that my agent got my e-mail. LOL

    I'm so glad that your relationship is working out so well. :-)

  2. Wonderful insight into yours and Rachelle's relationship, Jody. I would also hope that if I'm ever blessed to develop that writer/agent relationship it would be as open and professional as yours and Rachelle's seems. Have fun at the conference next week.

    I work on many clients at the firm I work whom I don't meet face to face before working on their most personal financial data. I offer them proffesionalism and thoughtfulness just as if we were personal friends. I hope that's what my relationship with an agent is like some day.

  3. Love this info!

    Will you answer a question for me? I was just thinking about a slightly different aspect this morning, and want your take.

    Is it hard opening up, letting someone else get so intimate with your writing?

  4. Hi Janna,

    It is very hard letting someone else get intimate with my writing! But since agents and editors take a "naked" look at writing for a living, I don't feel as exposed letting them read my work.

    But I was just thinking this morning about all of the people I know (church friends, neighbors, etc.) reading my books someday. And that thought made me pause. It does feel strange to think of exposing myself to everyone! I'm sure eventually we get used to it, much the same way we grow immune to showing up at the beach in a swimsuit!

  5. Thanks for the inside look!! You have me sighing *grin*

    What do I expect?

    I think I'm trying to come at it with not LOW expectations but OPEN expectations. I don't expect her to call me every day with "Nope, no word yet" or to dote on me or sell my book in the first hour (or week... or month...) of representation. I guess one needs to experience something before they know truly what to expect.

  6. Thanks for the peek into your relationship with Rachelle! (I been following her blog for a while and she seems like a classy gal and a great agent). I'm at the very beginning of my relationship with my agent. I still get butterflies in my stomach every time I see the agency name on my caller ID. My favorite things about her are 1. She loves my book 2. She is a great communicator and 3. She's got the connections to make a sale happen.

  7. Someone who'll allow me to curl up into a ball and/or cry on their shoulder for comfort . . . and I don't mean figuratively.

  8. Thanks for the peek into your world and your new agent/author relationship.

    Congrats, again!

  9. Great post, Jody. I'm looking for an agent who is open-minded, funny, accessible, and who "gets" my work and loves it. Rachelle is a gem. She's so down to earth. Have fun in Denver! That's where I went to HS and college, and where my immediate family still lives. My youngest sister is due w/her first baby any minute, and I'll be heading back there in a few weeks to see the baby and celebrate my parent's 50th wedding anniversary. If you've never been there before, you're in for a treat!

  10. You've answered a question I've been wondering about, Jody. Thanks for the insight.

    Hope I get a chance to meet you at the conference next week, too.

  11. Rachelle sounds beautiful :) You are very blessed.
    I don't want to be high maintenance either. Great post.

  12. I am so enjoying and learning so much from your writing journey posts. Thanks for sharing them.

    I expect an agent relationship to be one of respect from/for each other. I would hope that we both are working together for the same success and reward. I wouldn't want either to take advantage of the other. And I would be so grateful to have a relationship like you have that I'd be saying thank you all the time!

  13. I had an agent send me an email response last night that had me laughing so hard. I do hope to laugh with my agent, even if we just snicker when I'm published.

    You've had such a wonderful experience, Jody. It's encouraging to read about. You work hard for all of this! This may sounds strange, but I want an agent who expects me to work hard (which is probably a given, but maybe not.)

    ~ Wendy

  14. Your lesson here: be teachable.


  15. I don't know what to expect in whatever agent relationship I eventually get. However, I'm with you in that I hope I'm not high maintenance.

  16. Jody, I can only think of you as any agent's dream client. I can't imagine a less demanding person! And you're so smart. I love ya!

    I am looking for an agent who will agressively sell my books, keep me informed on the progress, and be honest with me about what I need to do to be successful. I'm not interested in a cheerleader or hand-holder. It's just not my style!

    Have a wonderful, wonderful time at conference!!

  17. Great post, Jody. I cannot imagine you being anything but teachable and easy to work with.
    I have only chatted with my agent via email; I am trying to save phone conversations for really urgent things. But everyone is different, and it sounds like you and Rachelle have a great relationship. I'm so excited for you to meet her; I'm sure you'll be 'buds' right away!
    Have fun!
    Audience of ONE

  18. I can't imagine you could ever be high maintenance, Jody. Your relationship with Rachelle sounds ideal and I would wish for one quite similar to what you describe here.

  19. Jody, this is so great to read. I have absolutely no idea about author/agent relationships, but always felt you better find one you can communicate with without having sweat flashes as a result each time. Sounds like you two are off to a great start!

  20. Because I write such a broad range (picture books, mid-grade, and YA), I hope to end up with someone who loves all my work. By that, I don't mean I'd never set a not-working manuscript aside. I want to work with someone, though, who gets my writing and loves it.

  21. Great post, Jody! My agent is such a gem, I could happily kick my feet up in her living room and dish on every aspect of my life. I've wondered how much of a professional distance she prefers - just to make it less awkward when she has to tell me a book isn't ready for submission or something. This would be a great topic for Rachelle to tackle from her perspective. And I'm jealous. I can't wait to meet my agent in person!

  22. Rachelle sounds like a wonderful agent. I'd really like to feel like my agent cares about our relationship and we can have mutual respect for each other's time, hard work and opinions. That is, WHEN I get an agent :) Have a great weekend!

  23. Hi Cindy -

    I'm glad your agent/author relationship is working out so well.

    Although it's hard to get an agent, the writer is actually the one contracting the service. Mutual respect and teamwork are key to working together. As in every relationship, the Golden Rule applies.

    Susan :)

  24. Oops, sorry, Jody. I just came from Cindy's blog. :)

  25. That was so inspirational! I hope to have an awesome agent like Rachelle one day!!! I'm glad she's so wonderful, you deserve someone just like her. I'm thrilled you get to met her! How fun is that going to be?

  26. Sounds like you have the author/agent relationship I would hope for. I also agree that agents aren't being paid at first for helping us, so we have no right to be demanding.

  27. You've hit on some really important points here - communication is one. I'd add how nice it is to have confidence in your agent. That is a wonderful thing as feel you have a partner you can trust and rely on.

    So happy you have found this. I have to, and it's very nice to have.

  28. Thank you for sharing this experience. I would hope 1) that I can GET an agent ;) and 2) that he/she is as helpful as Rachelle has been to you!

    Your humility and gratefulness is going to come back to bless you for sure!

    Have a great weekend, and have a WONDERFUL time at the conference!

  29. Hi, Jody!!

    I am really happy for you! And I can't wait for the day that I can read your book! Have a great time at the conference!

    Have a great weekend!

  30. Jody, thanks for sharing this insider view of the agent-client relationship. I like the points you brought out.

    I would like an agent who believes in my writing, gets it before editors who may be interested in my type of stories and who communicates with me on a regular basis.

    In return, I want to be a client who produces great stories, meets her deadlines, is professional and teachable, and clearly communicates not only her questions, comments and concerns but her compliments as well. An agent has a tough, demanding job, and I have no desire to make it any harder.

  31. I can't wait to hear all about when you meet her! I need lots of details. Think of me sitting home here wishing I were there with all of you!

  32. Thanks for the inside look! It's such a joy to follow you along in your journey, Jody. Your posts make me smile every Mon, Wed, and Fri. Can't wait to meet you next week!!

    About your question... I haven't really thought about it. But like you, I definitely don't want to be a high-maintenance client!

  33. Jody, I know it's a business relationship, but I think I'd really need to feel a connection between that person in a way that is different than it would be with an editor. I would need to feel that they got me, that they got my vision for my work, that they'd taken time to get to know me, the person, as much as me, the writer, to get what makes me tick, and hopefully, there would be an exchange. From what I can tell, you've got one of the best agents around. I expect it's going to be a wonderful relationship that gets even better as you go along!

  34. This is a great question. I didn't reply yesterday, because I wanted to think about it.

    The word that comes to mind is TRUST.

    I need to feel that I can wholeheartedly trust my agent. The trust I need comes from good, old-fashioned values: integrity, competence, understanding, diplomacy, discretion, compassion, and wisdom. It requires a lot of TRUST to put myself as an artist and my work into the hands of another who will represent me. I should think about the agent from the perspective of their character, their history in building long-term relationships, and their work ethic. These matter more than reputation and who they know.

  35. I'm back. Left you something at my place. You rock.;-)

  36. Thanks for sharing this with everyone. It sounds like you two are an ideal match!

  37. That's great you have a good relationship. I've heard horror stories from other authors.

    I guess I hope for the same things your agent is giving you, but I really don't know what to expect.

  38. How nice that you are meeting your agent. Have fun and I hope it is a fruitful time.

    I would want my agent to be crazy about my story, especially the characters. Also, I would hope that she would be nice. I don't think I could work with a "he" agent.

  39. Agree with all you have said. Communication is the key and Rachelle is really good at it. Me, not so much. If something is bothering me, it takes me a while to put it out there. I definitely need to work on that! The great thing I love about Rachelle is her editorial experience. I think that's really important and the fact that she can give that kind of advice as an agent is invaluable.
    Now when she sells my book I will really love her!! haha. I had a great time meeting up with R and the Wordserve crew last year in MN, but sadly won't make the conference this year, but have a wonderful time!!

  40. Thank you, Jody, for this truly inspiring post! I wonder about this very thing all the time. You have really been blessed with such a fantastic & knowledgeable agent like Rachelle. It is my hope to have the same or similar warm and professional relationship with an agent one day. And yes, I think communication is key, too.

    Great post!


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