13 Things You May Not Know About Agents

You’ve read lots of articles about literary agents, but here are 13 things you might not have heard yet.

1. We really hate how often we have to say “no” to writers. It’s one of the most excruciating parts of our job! So don’t imagine us gleefully rubbing our hands together and cackling happily when we send that rejection letter.

2. We are always rooting for you. We love working with writers, and we always hope the next query or the next pitch meeting will be a winner.

(What are overused openings in fantasy, sci-fi, romance and crime novels?)


Rachelle 2014Guest post from Rachelle Gardner, agent at Books & Such Literary Management.
Rachelle is currently seeking nonfiction from writers who have made a good start
on building a platform, particularly with blogging. Visit Rachelle on Twitter, Facebook, or rachellegardner.com. Be sure to read Rachelle’s submission guidelines.

3. While many of us do a great deal of editing on your manuscripts and proposals, the bottom line is that it’s the writer’s job to provide a marketable book. Agents shouldn’t be counted on to make it sales-ready, only to polish it up.

4. We are very invested in your book and once we’ve decided to represent it, we often feel like it’s “our baby” too (even though we KNOW it’s yours!)

5. If it seems like we’re too busy, it’s because the economics of this industry demand we carry a certain amount of volume to make a living wage.

6. We prioritize taking care of current clients above the search for new clients. So sometimes, queries and writer’s conferences take a back seat.

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The biggest literary agent database anywhere
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7. Most of us are interested in your long-term career, not just the size of the next advance.

8. We hate the slowness of publishing just as much as you do!

9. We want to set you up with the publisher and editor who will be best for you, not just the one who’s offering the most money.

10. When we’ve tried to sell your book but we’re not successful, we’re almost as disappointed as you. Not only are we emotionally invested, we’ve put in a lot of time for no paycheck.

11. When you send us a manuscript to read, we usually don’t do it during the work day. We read in the evenings (our “free time”) and on the weekends. With Kindles and iPads, we may even be reading your manuscript on the treadmill at the gym.

12. We’re aware of all the new options for writers these days, and we’re doing our best to help steer each client in the right direction.

13. If your writing career keeps you awake at night, there’s a good chance it has kept us awake on occasion, too.

Questions: What are some things agents may not know about writers?

(Secrets to querying literary agents: 10 questions answered.)


Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers’ Conferences:


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5 thoughts on “13 Things You May Not Know About Agents

  1. scoopwriter

    What great news! Making the transition from the seat as a commercial copywriter and marketer to the lonely chair in one of my bedrooms may appear difficult to some. It does to me. Where do I turn for advice on how to get these ideas out of my head, through the entire crunching process, and into the hands of someone who might enjoy, be engaged, or be entertained. You have personalized an interpretation of part of the process. This is helpful. It gives me hope that there are real people on the other end of this keyboard. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  2. Richard Mabry

    Any of you encountering Rachelle for the first time, let me attest that she really is rooting for us…she wants the next proposal she receives to be worthy of acceptance and sale to a publisher. She’s interested in our long-term career. And she’s right on the mark with this post.

  3. Ron Estrada

    I recently received an apology email from an agent because it took her a month to get to my manuscript. I laughed. A month is nothing in the publishing world. And I told her what I’ll tell you about the 2015 author:

    We know we have options, so we use the option of self-publishing to keep ourselves working while waiting on agents and publishers. Most of us still want to traditionally publish, but want to experiment in the indie pub world, too. We respect the professionals and what we want most is that professional critique of our work and the advice that comes from your years of experience. We do not hate traditional publishing (well, maybe there’s a podcaster or two, but they’re in the minority). We are very excited over all the options available to us and want to take advantage of them all. We want a career, despite the odds, not just a couple of books in print. We want an agent who understands all of that and who will answer our 3 am phone calls (okay, just kidding, I never call after midnight).

    Thanks for the post, Rachelle. I’ve been a lurking fan of your posts for years. God bless.


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