You’ve heard about high-maintenance authors. But what about your agent? You want a partner who will work with you but not interfere. Ideally, your agent is an experienced and enthusiastic friend who will give you tips and brainstorm how to create a more compelling story but not insist that her ideas are better or—Horrors!—try to rewrite your book.
I always talk to my authors about the level of back-and-forth they want and need, and I tailor my efforts accordingly. I’m not perfect, but I do my best to communicate effectively with each author. Everyone understands that the number of phone calls and emails will ebb and flow according to where we are in the publishing process.
As you consider working with an agent, ask yourself:
How often do I want to hear from my agent? For instance, do I want my agent to call or email only when there is actual news or to check in to say hello occasionally?
Do I want to know about every rejection as my agent receives the news? If so, do I want to see the editor’s email, even if the message hurts? (Tip: If you’re hurting, your agent may be able to soothe your wound. After all, both of you sent a strong proposal expecting that the editor would have a positive response to the project.)
If you have any other ideas about communication, share them from the start. Don’t wait until both of you are frustrated by different ideas about how best to converse.
Each author is unique, and every agent has a different style. So there is no right or wrong way to communicate—except not to communicate at all.