A successful author-agent relationship is no different from any other successful business partnership. At the core is trust.
When an author and agent commit to working together they are trusting that the other has their best interests in mind. The agent trusts that the author will provide them with good, sellable books. The author trusts that the agent will negotiate strong contracts that will forward their career.
Editing and revising is also based on trust. When I send my edits I am trusting that the author has the ability to make the changes, and the willingness to do anything to make their book better.
The author, on the other hand, is trusting that I am using my knowledge as an agent, an editor, and a reader, to make their book the best it can be.
We are both trusting in the fact that we have a relationship that is collaborative and we can discuss our ideas and concerns safety, honestly, and openly.
When an author first signs with an agent they are trusting their gut. They need to feel that this is someone they can trust with their career, their money, and their book. An agent trusts that the author will continue to work as hard on future books as they have with this one.
Trust is key in almost all relationships we have–marriages, friendships, business partnerships–while we can’t always guarantee that trust will last forever, we can make sure it’s a key component in our choice to enter a relationship.