Reputation v. Reality

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jul 27 2021

Have you ever overheard someone talking about you? Not necessarily negatively, just someone else’s impressions of who you are. Honestly, I love this. I love eavesdropping when people are talking about me. This is why conferences are the BEST.

It’s so fascinating to see how the world sees you compared to how you see yourself or even who you really are. While I think I’m mostly the person you see through this blog and YouTube, I imagine friends and family might laugh at some of the ways you see me versus the me they know. Heck, I imagine some at BookEnds might laugh. Hmmm, how do I eavesdrop on them?

How Well You Know Your Agent

One of the most fascinating aspects of reputation v. reality over the years has been how my own clients see or know me. Unfortunately, the time I typically find out their impression is when we part ways. This is when I learn that they’ve written something new and different and, instead of giving me a chance to look at it, decided it’s not something I represent, even if I have a robust list of just that thing.

Agents, like authors, are multi-faceted with a lot of interests. But authors, like agents, can live in a bubble. If you’re a mystery writer, you probably travel in a circle with other mystery writers. Therefore, you are well aware of your agent’s reputation in this genre. What you aren’t necessarily aware of is how wide and varied their list really is.

Your agent’s YA authors travel in a circle of other YA authors. They had no idea about the mystery side of their agent’s world. Just like you had no idea of their YA side. And neither group knew their agent was also well-known for their nonfiction list.

See how that works?

Take the Chance

I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t part ways with your agent. Sometimes they’re terrible, sometimes they’re terrible for you (but great for others), sometimes we all just need a change of scenery. What I am suggesting is before you make an assumption about your agent, ask.

Hey agent, I’ve written something completely different from my previous work. Are you interested? Do you have experience? What the heck else are you up to?

The truth is, most agents don’t talk much about other clients. There are privacy reasons of course, but mostly, when I talk to a client, I’m only concerned with that client. As I should be. So there’s no reason for you to know what else I’ve got going on, or what my other interests are. No reason unless you ask.

If you’re happy with your agent, I would suggest getting to know them when you need to. In the same way I don’t necessarily expect my clients to only write that thing they first came to me with, you shouldn’t expect your agent to only represent that one thing you do so well.

3 responses to “Reputation v. Reality”

  1. Avatar AJ Blythe says:

    Jessica, if you are wanting to write a different genre at some point, is that something you should discuss with your agent before you sign, or just when you are ready to branch out?

  2. Avatar Indigo Emrys says:

    I’m wondering if writing in multiple genres is a topic that should be addressed in the beginning when first meeting/talking with an agent who is interesting in representing you? I understand many unpublished authors are just so excited to be represented, they don’t care about any other future books, only the one they are trying to publish NOW. Would this turn off a perspective agent?

  3. Avatar Matt says:

    I’m an indie writer who lives in obscurity, but I really couldn’t help this, considering certain circumstances. I truly am sorry.