Communication Rules!

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.

8 Responses to Communication Rules!

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser May 5, 2022 at 3:48 am #

    My life goes on regardless
    of what my book goes through,
    so I don’t need to talk unless
    there’s something I must do.
    Now, my friend, don’t take it that
    I am averse to hear
    from you to say Hi, chew the fat,
    and drink virtual beer,
    but talking shop’s anathema,
    and since that writing’s done,
    so let’s chat ’bout someone’s grandma
    driving monster trucks for fun,
    or about the latest foibles
    of my Chihuahuas and your gerbils.

  2. Angie Dicken May 5, 2022 at 5:12 am #

    I am so thankful for the level of communication with my agent.;) You are amazing, Tamela!!

  3. Christina Rich May 5, 2022 at 6:14 am #

    You ate always ready to communicate! I am very thankful that you are available and prompt even when we don’t expect you to answer right away. We know we’re not your only authors!

  4. Kristen Joy Wilks May 5, 2022 at 9:20 am #

    Great words for thought, Tamela! It makes me stop and think. How often would I want communication? As someone who has been submitting for years and read every rejection and acceptance letter myself, I think that I would want to know each up and down. But I probably wouldn’t need to hear from my agent if we didn’t have anything in the works right then. So … perhaps I am a medium level communication author. Good for me to know!

  5. Jan Rogers Wimberley May 5, 2022 at 10:22 am #

    Thank you, Tamela.

    This helps as I hope I will soon need a first-time agent. Appreciate this communication for forward thinking.

  6. Carol R Nicolet Loewen May 5, 2022 at 6:02 pm #

    I appreciate this post, Tamela. We’re all different and so, the level of relationship and communication desired will differ. Your thoughts are helpful relative to beginning an agent relationship. I look forward to the day when I start one, and hope for more communication than simply business issues. I don’t want to ask for too much attention, but relationship is critical to me.

    Thanks for reminding us that both styles are ok.

  7. Pamela Desmond Wright May 5, 2022 at 9:53 pm #

    It’s been a marvelous journey having you as an agent. You know just exactly when to step in and pull in the reins when I’m running around in a panic over a manuscript. I have found your advice and guidance invaluable and look forward to working with you on many more books.

  8. Tamela Hancock Murray May 6, 2022 at 7:57 am #

    Thank you all for your kind comments! Much appreciated!

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