Calling all agented, published (or soon-to-be published) writers: We're hard at work on our next agent-focused issue, and we want to hear from you. What do you love about your agent? How has your author/agent relationship enriched your writing life in unexpected ways?
Email your gratitude (a short paragraph is fine—a bit longer works too!) to email@example.com with "Love My Agent" in the subject line. Include your agent's name and agency and the title of your most recent book. Select responses may be edited for space and clarity and will appear in Writer's Digest magazine and its related publications and website. (By submitting, you grant permission.)
Need some inspiration before writing your own ringing endorsement? Below, read The Maze Runner author James Dashner gush about his own agent in this excerpt from the October 2011 Writer’s Digest:
Young Adult Bestseller James Dashner on His Agent: Michael Bourret
Literary agents: You can’t live with them; you can’t live without them. Oh, wait, that’s my kids! An agent is actually someone I absolutely could never live without. I know there may be instances in the industry when it’s OK for authors to handle their own affairs, but I honestly think they’re extremely rare.
My agent, Michael Bourret, has done so much for my career that I owe him the spotlight here in offering you a glimpse into the nitty-gritty details of why he is such an integral part of my success.
I won’t rehash the usual stuff about an agent getting your work on the desks of major houses and editors, but I want to make a very important point about money. I often hear writers who decline to seek an agent say, “Why would I want to give 15 percent of my money to someone else?”
Here’s my answer: “Would you rather make 100 percent of a little, or 85 percent of a lot?” In every single case with what Michael has sold on my behalf, he’s significantly raised the value of what I receive as the author, both in advances and in the worth of the contract terms themselves. In other words, paying that 15 percent has made me more than that 15 percent many times over.
But Michael is much more than some guy in some city who makes sure I’m compensated fairly. No. 1, he’s become a good friend, and I think this is vital to the author-agent relationship. If you can’t get along or feel comfortable together, you’re in for a miserable experience. Also, Michael is an excellent communicator, and I can’t tell you how important this is to an author. Questions, concerns, issues—when you know you can ask about anything at any time and get help quickly, it lifts much of the burden of worry from your shoulders. Putting it another way, a good agent does whatever it takes so that the author can focus on what’s most important: writing.
Speaking of writing, here’s another asset Michael provides: feedback. With that alone he would earn his 15 percent. For example, when he first signed me as his client, we spent a couple of weeks going back and forth to improve the manuscript that would become my debut novel, The Maze Runner, before he sent it out to editors. Once he felt it was ready, it took only a couple of weeks for him to sell it to Random House. Since then, the rest of the trilogy has been, in some ways, a collaborative effort between Michael, me, and my editor, Krista Marino. In fact, there are some very important plot points in the series that were born in Michael’s brain.
Michael has also played a vital role in strategizing my career path. But that’s not to say it’s all business. He has taken the roles of coach, cheerleader and fan, all wrapped into one. I, like many creative types, suffer from major bouts of self-doubt. And Michael has an uncanny ability to lift me out of such doldrums and boost my confidence. His motivational speeches have saved many a writing day for me. He also takes me out to dinner sometimes and puts up with my ridiculous sense of humor. Bonus.
I know this article will embarrass Michael (and I’m only a tiny bit happy about that). But I know of no other way to express how enormously important I feel it is to have an agent—a good agent—except by relating my own experience. I absolutely, positively, no doubt about it would not be where I am today without him. With all of my heart, I wish all of you out there who are searching for such an agent the very best of luck. The good news is that my wonderful agent is not the only one!
Ready to submit your own? Email your gratitude (a short paragraph is fine—a bit longer works too!) to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Love My Agent" in the subject line.