Behind the Scenes of a Literary Agency

On my Twitter bio I describe myself, among other things, as a “professional pain in the ass.” And it’s true. I get paid by my clients to be just that.

Often I feel that my entire job is pushing others to do theirs. To read submissions, to make an offer, to execute a contract… I spend my days reminding people of this, often without my clients even knowing.

Regularly I am contacting publishers and editors to:

  • Inquire about a missing payment.
  • Excite them to read an outstanding submission.
  • Push for more desirable contract terms.
  • Ask when we will see the cover.
  • Ask why we haven’t yet seen a marketing plan.
  • Push again for better contract terms.
  • Nag them to read an outstanding submission.
  • Push for an offer.
  • Ask why the author hasn’t yet received revisions.
  • Push yet again for those same damn contract terms that I refuse to let go of.
  • Push for another offer.
  • Kindly suggest a vision for the cover and publishing vision for the book.
  • Throw out ideas for a marketing and publicity plan.
  • Calling to remind the editor that it’s time to start talking about a new contract (even without material from the author).

Many times these conversations, phone calls, and emails are happening even without an author’s knowledge. While certainly, I do work to keep my authors updated as much as possible. All of the calls and emails on this list don’t always lead to an instant update. Often they are just getting the wheels turning and moving so we will have an update.

So next time you’re concerned that maybe your agent isn’t doing enough, give her a call. My guess is she’s doing a lot, she just doesn’t have much to report yet.

Category: Blog

3 comments

  1. Thank you, Jessica! It’s great to hear all the steps that are going into a book. And thank you for being a pain in the ass.

  2. I knew an agent would be agenting without necessarily reporting to their authors, but I didn’t know about the last dot point. Does that happen often?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.