Friday, August 26, 2005

7 Ways to Make Your Agent Crazy

Seven Ways to Make Your Agent Crazy (I wrote this for the SoCal MWA newsletter)

1.Give your contracts to your son/daughter/neighbor who’s a lawyer “just for a quick glance”.

Publishing, like every other industry, has its own vocabulary and mores. Unless a lawyer is versed in publishing law, this “quick once over” isn’t going to do much but cost you money. Case in point: an LA lawyer dude who insisted on a clause that said “the author’s name will go on the book”.

2. Discuss the business side of things with anyone before your agent.

Case in point: I had an author write to the publisher canceling her book deal. Not to me. She didn’t know I’d already cashed the advance check and mailed her the contract and the advance. She got impatient. She made us both look like idiots.

3. Delegate all business discussions to your spouse.

This just simply never works. You’re the client. I talk to you. I’ll talk to both of you together, I’ll copy him/her on emails; you can decide everything the way you want, but you the author are always part of the discussion.

4. Give talks at writers conferences on “how to get published”.

Most authors know their own stories, maybe a few others from friends. They aren’t reading the submission stack; they aren’t calling editors. There’s a place for those stories: the bar. Teach craft; teach do it yourself pr. Don’t teach “how to get published”.

5. Say always yes/always no to blurb requests.

Blurbs are like favors. When people owe us, I get to collect for your next book. If your blurbs are in demand, be judicious. Don’t blurb everything cause it devalues your currency. If you never blurb a book, you don’t give me much currency to trade with.

6. Badmouth your publisher/agent/editor, and/or the industry in public.

Public does not mean in bars at writers conferences but it should. Keep that stuff for your friends and colleagues. Keep it off your website, blog, out of your presentations, Q&A, and interviews. This is a lose/lose situation. Everyone knows publishing is a bizarre industry but we all work in it, and you do too. Zip your quip.

7. Not ask questions when you don’t understand something.

It’s easier to answer questions than solve problems.


Unknown said...

WOW! Thank you for your advice about publishing and dealing with the agent. Especially the 7 deadly sins to do to an agent or not do! I hope one day we meet over words. I would be honored to have you as my agent.

I guess I better finish that Damn novel...And congrats to Rowan Jacobsen for winning the JBF award!

Anne Lyken-Garner said...

Blimy! I'm surprised you had to write this. I would've thought it was all common sense.

Monica (aka monnibo) said...

Hahha that was hilarious. I'm just getting into the publishing industry and lovelovelove it. Well, not the pain that it's caused you, but the ridiculousness.

Tee said...

Concerning #2...what if the agents let's YOU do the negotiations.

No kidding. On a gig she told me "It's a closed door, let's move on..." I said "Let me try another follow-up." When the publisher called me, my agent told me "It's your job. You handle it." I negotiated my own contract...

...she still took her cut.

So yeah...#2 made me laugh! :D

Andrew Jack said...

That is some superb advice, I'll put a link to it on my blog this afternoon.

@Tee...tell me you have another agent now!

J.C. Hutchins said...

Excellent advice! Thanks so much for this resource. I particularly appreciated tip #6. No author should ever talk smack about his/her agent or publisher in public.

steeleweed said...

Re #7:
The only stupid question is the one that wasn't asked.