Monday, August 18, 2008

Discussions with Your Agent

When you've signed a client and are submitting his/her work to editors, at what point do you want to hear about the writer's other ideas? When do you want to see proposals for them or want them to start working on other books? Or do you want to exhaust all avenues with the book on submission before you start talking about other projects? Does it make a difference if you're getting editors who are interested but haven't finished the book yet, so you feel confident an offer will come in soon--so you don't want the writer worrying about something new when you feel a sale is imminent?

What a great list of questions. I’ve been trying hard to make sure the blog covers areas of interest to all writers, published, unpublished, agented, unagented, and anyone in between (if there is such a thing). Unfortunately, I think often I get bogged down in information more for the unpublished/unagented and not as much for those with an agent.

I personally like to hear what a writer is thinking right from the start. Presumably you need something to do while I’m off submitting your manuscript, and it’s probably best if you and I are on the same page regarding what that something should be rather than your wasting time. To me it doesn’t make a difference what level of interest I’m hearing from editors. I’m a big believer in keeping things moving forward, and sitting around, waiting for editors (or agents, for that matter) to respond definitely isn’t forward motion.

So my advice to my authors is let’s always think ahead. I know you’re under contract, we’re submitting, or you’re busy revising, but in the back of our minds we should always be taking that next step. The worst-case scenarios are that we get an amazing deal and you suddenly need to drop your WIP to focus on the new contract, or a sale isn’t made but we’ve got something fresh and new to send out.

As far as seeing proposals, I’m happy to see them whenever you’re ready to send them. Of course, I will warn you that if I’m actively submitting and you send me a new proposal, you’re not going to go to the top of my pile. Why? For the most part I feel we should only submit one project at a time. When we feel like we’ve exhausted or nearly exhausted all of our possibilities I’ll be happy to send around something new. That being said, I will get to that proposal as quickly as I can, but we both also realize we’ll need to sit on it anyway, so there’s not a huge rush. In other words, you might have to wait a few weeks. I’ll let you know that though.

I think to be truly successful in publishing you always need to think ahead, plan for something bigger and better, and it never hurts to do that from the very beginning of your career.