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What an Agent Does After the Book Contract

Friday, February 26, 2010

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?

35 comments:

  1. Sounds like you have a friend as much as you have an agent.

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  2. Jody, This is very helpful for someone who is just starting in this business. Thank you for posting this. I hope to find an agent one day and that they are extremely supportive of my work as well as a great friend.
    Thanks!

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  3. I'm so glad you've been blessed in the way you have. You've worked hard for it.

    I'll be looking for an agent who is excited about my vision and shares insight about my future writing career. I also want my agent to walk me through the numbers stuff b/c I usually run from numbers.

    As a side, I want to laugh with my agent and talk books. ;)
    ~ Wendy

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  4. Your post makes me anxious to finish the book I'm working on so I can go on the hunt again! This time a little wiser and more educated.

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  5. I'm still on submission and am amazed (and humbled) by the amount of work my agent puts in for me, all without any compensation (yet).

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  6. Thank you for sharing all of the fantastic things an agent does. Great list!

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  7. You sound like you are blessed with an amazing agent. I would hope my agent would be one that I could communicate with easily!

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  8. Jody, I know that we all have wondered, "what happens after?" So I for one am really thankful for this post. Because there will always be things the agent will do. And it is to his/her benefit to make the most of it.

    And to me the MOST important thing about having an agent is the support. Without that, we'd all be DOOMED.

    The contract details are another important issue for me. Understanding the mumbo jumbo and all of that.

    Thank you Jody. For being such a treasured friend. =)

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  9. If I had a dollar for every time I've said, "I love my agent" since I signed with her in November, I'd be a millionaire. She's totally there for me when my writer neuroses kick in or just to check in and see how I'm doing. I adore her and have complete faith in her understanding of my work and enthusiasm to get it out there. We're getting ready for submission, and I'm barely even nervous. I didn't think that was possible, but that's how comfortable she makes me feel.

    I finally had the opportunity to meet her in person two weeks ago, and we had a blast making this vlog:
    http://debralschubert.blogspot.com/2010/02/bbb-dls-in-nyc.html

    If my face is cut off, use this link instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDRGvPfS51I

    I wish everyone could have this type of agent/author relationship!

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  10. What a wonderful testament on, what sounds like, a star agent! I haven't begun my search yet, but I love knowing that an agents can have a holistic approach to the careers of their clients.

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  11. It sounds like you've got a wonderful partnership, Jody. It's nice to have that business-wisdom brought into your writing career from a pro who knows that aspect of it. There's definitely strength in numbers in this situation!

    Have a great weekend!

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  12. Hi Jody -

    I can see why Rachelle is your dream agent. :)

    When you mentioned how she helps keep tabs on the contract requirements, I knew that's something I'd need from an agent. I appreciate your posts. You provide not only answers, but the right questions.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  13. Great writeup. I would add to this list:
    - helps us "see the future" of our dealings & writing careers because they have been there before with other writers.
    - helps us figure out which things to focus our energies on
    Thanks

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  14. This is a wonderful post for those of us without agents. It is definitely something I have wondered about many times. What do I want? I want something like what you have - a supportive and personal relationship with an agent who believes in what I do. So...how do I get Emily van Beek @ Pippin Properties to fall in love with my work? Ah, the dream! :-)

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  15. Jody: I don't think you've left anything out. But I'm a new agented author, so still learning as I go.

    One benefit I enjoy is that the group my agent represents operates like a family. When someone is sick or having other issues, Diana will email all of us, asking for prayer for them. We act as a support team, reading and promoting each others' work. Having this extra "family" to cheerlead has enouraged me tremendously.

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  16. You have a great list there! As an unagented author, the only other thing I can think to add is what Rachelle talked about not long ago on her blog. Some agents do more editing on client's works than others. I think, for me, especially starting out, I'd love a professional agents opinion and suggestions on my story before we actually start pitching it.

    That said, lack of editing wouldn't turn me off of an agent either, as I know for some, it isn't their thing.

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  17. When it’s time for me to search for an agent, I hope to find one like you have found. Someone who says up on the latest in the industry and keep you apprised so you can stick to the writing.

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  18. You are such a great resource, Jody. Thanks for sharing your journey.

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  19. Great blog. I'm looking for an agent and I'm not sure what to expect. Now I have a better idea. Thanks, and have a great weekend.

    Stephen Tremp

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  20. I like all of what you said. The most important thing to me is the constant encouragement. I have a believer in my corner, and sometimes that makes all the difference in the world.

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  21. I'm looking forward to a professional relationship with my agent. If a friendship springs from that as well I will welcome it with open arms. I love hearing about your journey! May God continue to bless you!!

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  22. The support, definitely. That's a big thing.

    Have a great weekend, Jody!

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  23. You've done a wonderful job outlining the pros. I pray for an Agent that offers all these things.

    I really appreciate following your journey. God doesn't miss a beat does He?! He takes good care of His children!

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  24. Just knowing "someone has your back" is incredibly comforting. She is an expert and you are just entering, so it's good to have that assurance. :O)

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  25. Sounds like you have a wonderful agent. Thanks for this info. Wondered what it was like on the other side of the fence:)
    Blessings,
    Karen

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  26. Your detailed, wonderful description of your author-agent relationship makes me want an agent.

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  27. To have an advocate in the process is what I hope for -- someone knowledgeable that will be on my side, offering advice, information, encouragement. As much as I've learned so far, I can't imagine navigating through the contractual and publication details on my own.

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  28. When/if I am fortunate enough to find an agent, I certainly hope they are like Rachelle.
    Her blog has guided me through a lot of writer tangles, and to hear she is a supportive agent, does not surprise me.

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  29. I can't wait to get to this stage in submitting my work to an agent. Right now I'm asking others to submit their opening lines to my blog to help spark my imagination. I'd love to read yours.
    http://m-j-macie.blogspot.com/

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  30. That is such a great point. That an agent is not something you get and then get over. You are a team. I think that sort of insight you are giving, about how this is a person who is going to be a person you will spend a lot of time with, gets writers to think about taking time to make sure they are querying agents they think such a relationship is possible with.

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  31. Hi, this is a bit off topic but I saw your book cover and it's lovely, and I immediately had to Google the author after reading the summary. I love the time period and am very much looking forward to reading your book when it releases.

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  32. Thank you so much, again, for all this great information. If I were to make a list of what I hope from the agent I don't have yet, it would be very much like what you're experiencing with yours.

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  33. It's interesting to hear everything Rachelle does for her clients after the contract, Jody. I can vouch for how much she does beforehand. She's guiding me through a major revision of my story. Not all agents offer this service, but I'm grateful she does and feel blessed to be the beneficiary of her experience, expertise, and support. Many of us call her our Dream Agent, and the title is well deserved. She knows her stuff, but she also has a way of making each of us feel special.

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  34. I'm so glad you've been blessed in the way you have. You've worked hard for it.
    work at home in india

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