Before Starting Your Next Project Talk to Your Agent

I’ve been talking a lot to authors lately about what’s next for them. What book should they be writing while we’re out on submission? How much do I want to know about a project before they start writing? If they have time between books should we talk before starting something new?

My answer to each and every one of those questions is that we should talk. Your agent should always have some input in what you’re working on next, she should want to have input. Her job is to maximize all possible opportunities when it comes to your career and make sure that everything you do is moving your career forward and not putting you in a position where you’re unlikely to sell something.

My clients all keep themselves, and me, pretty busy. I don’t think there’s one who simply sits around and waits for that next big thing to happen. While I’m busy selling projects for them, they’re busy writing the next thing. Hopefully, something we’ve discussed in some capacity so I’m not blindsided with a project that has no marketability or feels like a waste of the author’s time (the second book in a series, for example, that we were unable to sell).

The most important thing about an author/agent relationship is communication. The more you talk, the more successful you’ll both be. In any true partnership the team is working together as much as possible to create the most successful product (or the best book).

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7 comments

    1. Potentially for nonfiction and only for fiction if the author has a successful track record and I can see how well she is able to complete a book. That would be pretty rare though. For an unpublished author I’d need a completed manuscript. For a published author I at least need a few chapters.

  1. This. So this. Anytime I get nervous about where things are, I talk to my agent. Communication is key. I keep a scoreboard of planned projects and ideas for him to sort through when we’re choosing the next book.

  2. Hi Jessica, I had a quick question. Would you recommend an author stick to a specific genre (and get established in that genre) before even considering crossing over? I’m asking because, while I like reading (and writing) YA thrillers / mysteries, I’m also fond of YA contemporaries, especially those with romance in them. My WIP is a YA contemporary (diverse). And I have a couple of other fledgling projects that are YA mysteries, all diverse. Should I stick with one genre? Thanks.

  3. I have completed the first book of a mystery series and am early in the search for an agent. Meanwhile the next book is in progress and I’ve got the next few roughly outlined. Should I pitch the series or focus on the completed manuscript? Each book can stand on its own but also builds on the characters introduced in the first book. Thank you!

  4. This is one of the reasons I want an agent. I am so looking forward to being able to talk ideas and development with someone. Or just throw ideas around until something sounds good. throw in the help and advice and it sounds like the perfect working partnership.

    I am seriously considering training hubby how to analyse a book so he can be useful. I know the general advice is, don’t work with family, but our relationship started out in a dangerous ‘working’ situation. We slip back into that very easily.

  5. Kind of an in-house blog, but okay. For the rest of us, I’m amazed that we can hit it right sometimes without such guidance. BTW, congrats on the Writer’s Digest selection.

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