Do agents spend more time/attention with clients who are moneymakers?
What should a lower echelon earner expect? I don’t make my agent much money and I understand that effort may be commensurate with earning. This agent sold a book of mine and I do appreciate that but I think it didn’t bring in as much money as was expected.
Now with my second ms I feel ghosted. It’s been two years and no updates of where it has been sent and the response, although I have nudged every six months or so. Is this typical behavior? I really don’t want to go back out into the cruel agent seeking world, but I’m wondering if it is time to do so. But is it like this everywhere?
I’m feeling discouraged. Technically my contract was only for book one, so I could get free if I wanted. I now have a third ms but I’m not getting any younger and don’t want to wait years on this one too.
You actually have two separate questions here.
One is how agents prioritize their time.
The other (which you didn't ask) is what the HELL is going on with your submission.
Let's address the second one first.
If you've got a book on submission, your agent must update you. It may take longer than it should (try as I might, I'm always behind on these updates). But waiting six months between nudges is letting her/him off the hook. Don't do that.
Send a firm email with a deadline.
It reads like this:
Dear Agent Slackerpuss,
Please send me a list of where my manuscript has been submitted and to whom, with any replies received.
Please send this to me by close of business on (date).
If s/he doesn't respond, call her.
This is YOUR CAREER!
This is your work.
You wouldn't let your dog sitter keep your dog with no updates for a week! Your manuscript deserves at least the same care and feeding.
Also, YOU MUST HAVE THIS INFO if you're going to seek new representation. While I can take on books that have been subbed, the key piece of info determining if I will is where the book has been. If you can't tell me that, it's game set match.
As to the question of how agents prioritize: it's not by earning, it's by the urgency of the problem. A client who's on submission and thus hasn't earned anything still gets immediate attention if one of the publishers where the book is subbed makes a read and revise request.
A client whose book is out of print and hasn't earned in years finds her work plagiarized---that's a top priority.
Of course, you can see how this works most of the time: the clients who are selling (and thus earning) often have many more problems than clients who are on submission, or tucked away in the archives researching the price of rice in Shanghai in 1282.
Thus, submission updates tend to come lower on the priority list. Sub lists aren't a problem; updates aren't a problem. Yes, they need to be done, but no one will suffer (other than anxiety) if you get it Sunday instead of Thursday. That said, I'm not keen on causing my writers anxiety, so I do try to be prompt. (I fail a lot)
Lower on the priority list does NOT mean six months of silence. Even when I've been Agent Slackerpuss, a client emailing with HEY, SHARKFORBRAINS!!! gets pretty prompt attention.