A new author friend was telling me of hassles they're having with their publisher.

What did your agent say, I asked.

My agent?

Turned out they hadn't told their agent cause they didn't want to bother them.

OMG! Tell your agent! It's their job to deal with publishing hassles!
Your agent is for you to bother.

I bother my agent when I'm climbing walls cause my editor is taking ages with my ed letter. That way I get to whinge and my agent makes the decision of when it's time to nudge the editor.

I cc my agent on all correspondence with my publishers.
You'll find your editor and others at your publisher will then cc your agent.

You want your agent to know everything.

I make all publishing decisions in consultation with my agent.

Is this novel YA or not?

Do we accept this offer?

Do we fight this cover?

Etc. etc.
Seems like lots of new authors really have no idea what an agent does other than sell your books and take 15%.

Your agent is your advocate in publishing world. They're looking out for you.

All your business with your publisher needs to go via them.

All of it!
Yes. If your agent isn't responding to and makes you feel you're bothering them then might be time for a new agent.

That was not the case with this new author. They hadn't told their agent anything and when they did the agent took over and fixed it.

One wonderful thing my agent does, is translate my enraged screeds into polite business letters.

I write the incandescently angry letter, send it to my agent. She commiserates, then says, How about if you put it more like this?

I swear what she does is alchemy.
If you're sick or experiencing some other problems that are interfering with your work, tell your agent.

Let them get you delivery date extensions. Let them handle it with your publisher.

Let your agent take weight off your shoulders.
Trust me, agents rarely think their clients are a bother. When they do that's usually the end of the relationship. That's rare!

Agents are in the biz because they like helping people. They choose clients whose work they admire but also who they think they'll get along with.
I know agents who have clients they're on the phone with several times a week. Sometimes daily.

They do not consider those clients to be a bother. It's all part of doing their job.

One agent told me they feel proud that they're a part of that client's writing process.
I've gone through some horrible shit with publishers.

During the worst mess I was talking to my agent daily and everything between me and the publisher went through her.

I wasn't being a bother to her. It was her job to deal with the mess and she did so amazingly. I'm grateful.
Question for agents: do any of you give new clients a publishing orientation? Or tell them what to expect from you?

Cause I keep coming across brand new authors who are utterly clueless about what their agent does. And are deeply worried about being a bother.
Only one publisher I've been with-- @bloomsburykids--sent me an orientation letter.

It was great. Explained what every department does. Laid out what you could expect from your publisher and what they expected from you.

I wish every publisher and agency would do that.
The publishing industry is deeply weird and confusing. Newbies need all the explanations they can get.
In conclusion:

BOTHER YOUR AGENT!
Good to hear!

Most of my publishers have been happy to answer questions but only the one that provided resources.

I love my agent. Don't know what I'd do without her.
Yes and no. Many authors feel like they're bothering their agent when they absolutely aren't.

Too many of us have been schooled to keep quiet and not make a fuss.

There are a few agents who make their clients feel bad for asking questions. Ditch them.

It's depressing how many, especially women, don't want to be a bother.

Especially as "being a bother" seems to mean asking questions.

Asking your agent questions, telling them what's going on, isn't being a bother.

Helping you is their job. That's what you pay them to do.
Sure. There are bad agents out there. Agents who ignore their non-bestseller clients etc. Sack 'em and get a new one.

Responding to DMs now. Yes, tell your agent when you're anxious.

Spoiler alert: many authors are

Honestly, I suspect most authors are. Especially when waiting for ed letters, when out on submission.

Talk about it with your agent. Let them bug your editor for you.
Publishing is an anxiety inducing business. Tell your agent everything.

They're there to help you,

They've heard it all before. You're not their only anxious/upset/angry/depressed client.

But if you don't tell them what's going on they can't help you.

Bother your agent!
This happens a lot. New authors are so focused on how to get an agent & selling that 1st book that they don't think beyond.

Also when you look up "what does an agent do" it's mostly about selling books. There's very little about agent's work beyond that.

One of the great things about Twitter: lots of authors/agents talking about the everyday of their careers.

Yesterday authors were talking about all the rejections they get well into their careers.

I recently had a commissioned short story rejected. (Didn't fit the parameters.)
I'm not saying any of this is easy. There's a lot we don't talk about enough in publishing.

One is when to fire your agent and how to fire your agent. And what it's like looking for a new agent when you're not a brand, new shiny author.

It's scary.

I have a thread on some reasons why you should leave your agent.

And why so many authors are too scared to fire their incompetent agent. Often it's because they don't realise their agent is incompetent.

Firing your agent, when you're midlist and your last few books haven't done that well, is terrifying.

Your ever present fear is that your career is over. Maybe that's why things are going badly with your agent?

Maybe no other agent will want you?
We don't talk about this because no one wants to talk about the fact that all writers' careers end. As Samuel R Delany put it--I'm paraphrasing--the lucky ones' careers end when they die.

Most published authors never have more than one book published.
The authors who are still publishing 20 years after their first book are vanishingly rare.

That's the main reason why I always tell people to keep their day job.

Very few authors can support themselves with their writing.
As ever I'm happy to answer any questions about the writing life.

Just remember I'm not an agent. All my knowledge comes from being on the author side of things for sixteen years.
Yeah. There's very little hard data.

I just know that very few of the folks I debuted with back in 2005 are still around.

Many authors can't believe their luck in finally getting published. Their dreams have come true!

Some of them are scared of messing it up. They worry that if they "bother" their agent their agent will drop them and their dream will be over.

Oh, wow. What a trash agent. Any agent who tells you that is terrible. I'm so sorry.

There are heaps of reasons for leaving your agent. I parted ways with my first agent because we weren't on the same page. She's a really good agent. Just not for me.

To be clear, every agent has multiple clients who have had previous agents.

It's normal.

I mean they might be concerned if you'd had, like, twenty previous agents.
Reasons for needing a new agent:

They quit agenting
They died
They don't represent the genre you're now writing
They don't like what you're now writing
You've discovered they've burned so many bridges lots of editors won't accept submissions from them
They get you shitty deals
That's terrible. I'm glad you escaped.

My agent usually gets back to me on the same day I message her.

Most newly agented authors don't know that a prompt reply from your agent is the industry norm.

They've just been trying to get an agent where the norm is long waits. Because an agent's priority is their existing clients.

Your agent taking days to get back to you is a red flag.
Absolutely this. If your agent is type 2, you need a new agent.

Keep reading @courtneymilan's thread for more on this.

Yup. You don't want to yell at your publisher. Let your agent do that.

Something else that can be a problem: conflicts of interest.

Some agents are also writers. What if they sold their own book to the same editor you're in conflict with? And they won't go to bat for you?

You don't want an agent who doesn't put your interests first.
Woah. Isn't returning calls because dead is an excellent excuse.

It's been two days that I've had "call your agent" stuck in my head to the tune of Robyn's Call Your Girlfriend.

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