In this era of, “What can an agent do for you?” I thought a blog about the intangible benefits of visibility and relationships would be worth your time.
As a literary agent, I am blessed to speak with a great number of talented authors. Many of them are where I once was — mothers with young children at home. They are lucky to have any time to write. Travel to a writers conference? Maybe once in a while, but at great personal sacrifice. At least, even with a supportive husband, that’s how it was for me before my daughters were grown.
You don’t have to be a young mother to feel this pinch. Any writer can be overwhelmed with commitments, and perhaps financially and geographically. Family responsibilities vary. Just because your elderly relatives don’t live in your house (or maybe they do) doesn’t mean you feel you can leave town easily. And what if you’re responsible for livestock, or even family pets? “Footloose and fancy free” no longer applies to you.
Of course, conferences aren’t the only way to foster relationships. Those develop over time, for different reasons, and through various interactions. Here again, most writers are at a disadvantage over literary agents. They don’t have the opportunity or reason to interact with publishers and editors, and certainly not with a number of them, so those relationships simply don’t have a chance to be initiated, much less mature. A writer may, over time form a friendship with an editor, but casting a wide net isn’t likely for the typical writer. Not so with agent interacting with editors every day.
When a writer signs with an agent, the writer is benefiting from the agent’s relationships with publishers and ability to be visible. The writer benefits in part because editors take our calls.
Have you ever tried to telephone an editor as an unknown writer? I have. (Good luck. Results may vary!)
Every interaction I have with your editor or potential editor won’t be about you. But if I represent you, that interaction stands to benefit you, because my reputation and interactions have the potential to benefit all of my clients.
So while authors do have the ability to be visible and to interact with their editors, because of the nature of their careers, literary agents have the opportunity and ability to cast a much wider net. As always, we are here to serve you.
Can you name some other intangible benefits of having a literary agent?
How visible to you want your literary agent to be?