Everyone knows agents try to match authors with the appropriate publishing houses and get book deals. My agent, Rachelle Gardner, sent a book proposal to Bethany House Publishers and secured a three book deal for me (read more about it here).
But what happens after the deal is done and the contract signed? What does an agent do then? In other words, are there any other benefits to having an agent besides helping authors get book contracts?
Now that I’m on the other side of the contract fence, I would have to answer, yes, there are a number of other benefits to having an agent besides their expertise in clinching book deals.
Here’s a sample of a what an agent does after the book contract:
1. Supports the writer’s career: It’s a tough, complicated, ever-changing industry, and we can all benefit from having an expert at our side rather than navigating the choppy publishing waters alone. Agents not only get behind our current projects, but they’re looking out for our future ones too. They’re investing in our writing career, not just a book.
Rachelle offers the kind of support that makes me feel like I’m her only client (even though I know she has quite a client load!). Whether with phone calls, emails, or Twitter messages, she’s by my side whenever I need her. When I went to visit my Publishing House in January, she flew out too. She sat in on most of my meetings and supported me every step of the way.
2. Oversees the ongoing details of the contract: An agent helps negotiate the terms of book contracts for authors. But once we sign, that’s only the beginning. The agent helps make sure both sides fulfill their aspects of the contract in a professional and timely manner.
Rachelle keeps tabs on a variety of contract details that I don’t have the inclination or savvy to pay attention to. Advance schedules, due dates for synopses, book cover feedback—she’s right there on the front line helping me handle it all.
3. Promotes the author’s platform: I’m not sure if this is something every agent does. But because Rachelle has such a strong web presence, with thousands of twitter and blog followers, she’s able to give her clients extra boosts of “prime time” attention.
She occasionally hosts clients on her blog and has a link to client books there. On twitter, she shares about client book deals or other exciting news. She sometimes tweets about client blog posts and leaves links. All of this is professionally done and helps us in our efforts to build platforms.
4. Assists in all other writing-related issues: We all know having a writing career involves so much more than simply writing books. Although the writing needs to remain the foundation, other areas demand attention too—marketing, publicity, websites, blogs, etc.
Even though these issues are my primary responsibility, I’ve brainstormed with Rachelle on a couple different occasions recently on how best to proceed. Since she’s familiar with my publishing house and my writing, she’s able to offer the best possible advice to direct me.
My Summary: While not everyone may need or want an agent’s help, I’ve found an incredible sense of security in having an advocate for my writing career. On a professional level my agent works very hard for me. But I’m blessed, because on a personal level, she’s become someone I can talk to about anything.
What do you think? For those who already have agents, what have I missed? What else has your agent done for you? And for those still agent-hunting, what is most important to you in an agent?