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Communication is Key to a Strong Author-Agent Relationship

The key to any good relationship is communication and I know anytime I offer representation the question of how I communicate comes up with authors. Do I prefer email or phone? How often do I communicate and what do I communicate? These are all valid and incredibly important questions to ask when considering a relationship. However, the real key to what makes good communication, which is the back and forth between two or more people, is lost in these questions

These questions put all of the onus and power of communication on the agent, without considering an author’s personal communication style or preferences. The truth is, the best author/agent relationships come about because the author, at some point in our working relationship, came back to me to talk about how she would like me to communicate and how she would like to communicate with me. In other words, what we were doing wasn’t working for her own personal communication style.

Communication is a two-way street and asking how an agent communicates is a good first step to starting a relationship, but having the ability to discuss what’s working and not working is what forms the strongest relationships. It might make sense to receive all information via email when you don’t know what to expect, but later, as things are actually happening, you might realize you prefer an occasional phone call, or weekly update rather than surprise as-they-happen updates.

I have always prided myself on my communication and one of the things I tell authors is if you don’t hear from me it’s because I didn’t receive your message, not that I’m ignoring you. However, the way I communicate works for me, but might not work for everyone and there’s no way to know this unless, well, you communicate that to me. I want to be the best communicator I can be and for that to happen it’s imperative I know what’s working for my clients and what isn’t.

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3 comments

  1. Jessica, how does this work with your international clients? Are there options in these cases or is email really the only one (because of time differences and international call costs)?

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