A Few Things Your Agent Needs to Know


You have an agent, but want to be low maintenance. You value your agent’s time and hesitate to fill her in-box with lots of chatty emails or tie him up on the phone all day. I’m sure your agent appreciates you for being considerate.

Still, writing is a serious profession and a business. Therefore some personal events and occasions in your life are critical for your agent to know:

Happy Event

If you are the bride or groom, the parent of the bride or groom, expecting a new life in your family, are taking a month-long vacation to Hawaii, or have another major happy event planned, let us know so we will be aware that you might not be around for stretch of time.

Death of an Immediate Family Member

If you don’t tell us about a death that affects you in a major way, we won’t understand your emotional state. Also, consider that if you are responsible for executing a will and disposing of an estate, it’s best to let your agent know you are involved in time-consuming, heart-wrenching work that could affect your productivity.

Major Medical Issues

This includes any major illness or surgery, particularly if you may be looking at time-consuming physical therapy and multiple visits to doctors. If you don’t tell us, we won’t understand that you must see the doctor three times a week so you never seem to answer your phone or email. Or if you are faced with a chronic condition that changes how you approach your work.


If you must become a caregiver let us know. Not only are you having to adjust to a new routine, but taking on the responsibility of an adult who is unable to function on her own will also consume much time and emotion.

Difficult Family Circumstances

Family difficulties, a separation, or even a divorce are all things that you might hesitate to mention to your agent. Don’t fear judgment. Let your agent know. Your agent is your business partner and these situations can have a chilling effect on your creativity. And sometimes the agent can let your publisher know if you are in danger of missing a deadline, but in a tactful manner that protects your privacy.

Jury Duty

Each state has different rules regarding Jury Duty. For some it is only a day. For others it means being on call for a month. But at least tell your agent if you think you’ll be sequestered. If you are, then we’ll have a heads up and have thought of an action plan for while you are away.


Keep us up to date, even if you are months away from our deadline and don’t think it affects your work flow. We need to know your new address. And don’t forget to tell the publishers who are sending you checks! Or if you spend months in a second home, let us know when you switched to the new location.

What Not to Do

Please remember that the sooner you can let us know about any changes, the better. The worst mistake you can make is hoping against hope that things will be better than you think, and you can still make that deadline. Don’t make the mistake of meeting the deadline by just turning in whatever you have on screen, in other words, the raw first draft. It would be better to ask for a few extra days to clean up the mess before scaring your editor with something not ready for prime time.

And please, do not assume anyone is reading your Facebook or Twitter updates and consider that sufficient notice. Social Media posts do not substitute for an intentional notification via e-mail or a phone call.

21 Responses to A Few Things Your Agent Needs to Know

  1. Avatar
    Beth March 22, 2012 at 5:51 am #

    All good information to know. It goes both ways too. Authors should give their agent space when they need it, with a contact if they’re not available. We’re all human after all. I’m glad I have an agent that I have that kind of a relationship with…wink wink:)

  2. Avatar
    Laurie Alice Eakes March 22, 2012 at 6:05 am #

    And then there are those clients who have to tell you every time they get a hang nail.

    OK, removingmy tongue from my cheek.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told people “You need to tell your agent.”

    People fear that if they tell their agent of weakness, she will respect them less and work less hard for them. Seriously.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray March 22, 2012 at 9:41 am #

      Very good insight, Laurie Alice. I hadn’t thought of that, probably because it would never occur to me to work less hard for any of my clients, regardless!

  3. Avatar
    Lindsay Harrel March 22, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    These are great tips, Tamela!

    • Avatar
      Loree Huebner March 22, 2012 at 9:40 am #

      Very insightful post. Thank you.

  4. Avatar
    Peter DeHaan March 22, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    These are great guidelines — and I hope I never have an occasion to send one of those messages to my agent!

  5. Avatar
    Lynette Eason March 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    Hey, great stuff here. 🙂 I WISH I was calling to tell you I was moving! Alas, not yet. Thanks for the post. 🙂

  6. Avatar
    Gina Welborn March 22, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    Tamela, I have returned from a day-trip to Colonial Williamsburg. 🙂

  7. Avatar
    Jennifer Major March 23, 2012 at 3:13 am #

    Hawaii? Nah. If you were my agent, I’d make sure you knew how to contact me when I’m in Bolivia on a mission trip (October! Woo!). My husband and kids have no clue how to find me at 15,000 feet, staying in a Quechua village. But I’d give you my satellite phone number. Heck, I’d take you with me!! How do you feel about switch backs and trying to speak at high altitudes? What about purple potatoes? Can you play soccer? We’ll have a great time.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray March 23, 2012 at 3:50 am #

      Well, now that you’ve gotten me thinking about Bolivia, I can usually manage to talk no matter what the altitude and as for soccer, I favor the fullback position. I’ve been on Skyline Drive enough to think I can handle switchbacks. I love purple potatoes! We have them at Harris Teeter. 🙂

      Enjoy your trip. God bless you!

      • Avatar
        Jennifer Major March 23, 2012 at 6:21 am #

        The only near death experience I’ve ever had was playing keeper against some Bolivian women. We could barely breathe and they shot rockets disguised as soccer balls!
        In one afternoon, we drove for 4 or 5 hours and counted 72 switchbacks. On dirt roads. One lane dirt roads. With transport trucks. Maybe I’ve had more than one near death experience…

        Wanna come?

  8. Avatar
    Tamela Hancock Murray March 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    Jennifer — LOL –Try the Road to Hana!

    • Avatar
      Jennifer Major March 24, 2012 at 4:18 am #

      Where’s Hana? I’d try anything, unless it was driving with my sister. Or anywhere in Montreal.

  9. Avatar
    Rhonda Gibson March 24, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    Opps, just got back from vacation. I’m back at work today 🙂


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