On Monday 3-27, you said:
6. Is the agent hands on or hands off?
An agent should know this about him/herself. And his/her clients will know for sure. ASK.
The more you know about an agent's day to day style of working with clients, the better.
Will you clarify what you mean by hands on/off? I always thought "hands on" simply meant an agent who gives fairly detailed editorial feedback on the writing. After reading a couple comments on that post, I'm wondering, is there more to the definition than that? Or maybe I'm wrong and it means something entirely different.
I'm hoping "hands off" does NOT mean an agent who never or rarely communicates with clients, but is one who leaves any editing to the publisher.
Hands on is more than just how to describe an agent who gives fairly detailed editorial feedback.
Some agents sell a book, then *poof* they're off to the next sale.
Editors and clients don't hear from them until it's time to re-up.
There are levels of this; some agents will stay in touch a bit more often than that, but their focus is selling the next project not managing this one.
And that is perfectly legit. Some authors want that.
If, on the other hand, you want or need an agent who is more involved, you want an agent who is more "hands-on."
When people ask me that question, I tell them I'm involved with editing and development right up till we sell it. Then I hand off content to the editor. If there's a problem, I get looped back in, but I'm not an editor and I like to sell to editors who really know their stuff (ie a lot more than me about how to make a book better.)
Of course, I've got my long pointy nose in all the business side of things. From royalty statements to short story contracts, to helping authors develop their brand, activate their social media presence and build platform, I'm right there in the trenches with them. That's what hands-on means.
One of the things I need to learn about every new client is how much involvement they need and want. It can be two different things, which is interesting. Generally we find out when we hit some sort of rough spot---which is one of the reasons I have a bar in my office.
And authors need varying levels of handedness through out the year, and throughout their career. A client who needs a lot of coaching will often become a client who doesn't need much by the third or fourth book.
Or, the client who didn't need much on books one through five, suddenly needs a lot when their career is making a left turn they didn't see coming.
How do you determine if an agent is hands on or off (that does sound weird I know): ask their clients. Ask what their agent works with them on. If it's only the contract, that's hands off. If it's editorial work up till the book is sold, then not till the next book, that's hands off.
I reiterate: both hands on and hands off are legit choices. One is not better than the other. The trick is to know what you need and sign with an agent who does that.