The Best Parts of Being an Agent

I’ve been a literary agent now for just over fifteen months. I pretty much know it all at this point.

As Foghorn Leghorn would say, “That’s a joke, son.” If you don’t know who Foghorn Leghorn is, you’re too young for us to be friends.

But seriously, folks, I’ve learned a lot since becoming an agent; and number one on the list is how much I have yet to learn. Insanely much.

As I’m often asked by friends and others, “How do you like being an agent?” I thought I’d use this space to answer, by way of listing the best parts of being an agent. In next week’s post, I’ll enumerate the worst parts (bet you can’t wait, huh?). So here they are, the best parts of being an agent, from my perspective, at least:

  1. I get to “hang out” with writers.

Writers are cool. I know in high school, most of us were the nerds, but post-high school, being a writer becomes a lot cooler. And I get to hang out with those people, most of whom are like me.

  1. I get to “hang around” with great agents.

My boss, Steve Laube, has been my agent for fifteen years or so. He was a friend before that (still is, I should be sure to mention). And the other agents in this agency are the finest kind people to work with, talk to, laugh with, and learn from. I finally get to sit at the cool kids’ table. 

  1. I get to work with editors.

I often tell people that publishing—and Christian publishing, in particular—is about relationships. And I’ve enjoyed knowing and working with many of the best editors in Christian publishing over the years as an author. I get to talk, email, and meet with them on a far more regular basis now that I’m an agent. Life is pretty great when you love and respect the people you work with, day in and day out.

  1. People assume I know stuff.

I’ve presented at writers conferences since the late 1980s (before you were born, right?)—first as a magazine editor, then as an author. But when I became an agent, suddenly people started listening a lot more closely to what I had to say. It’s as if I’ve been sprinkled with magical agent dust.

  1. I get to see—and sometimes shape—a lot of great ideas.

One of the many reasons I love good bookstores is the thrill of seeing so many stimulating ideas, well presented (and sometimes well written). As an agent working with scores of writers, I get to do that on a daily basis. Not every idea is a good one, and I don’t always get to brainstorm with authors on titles, twists, and techniques; but it’s one of the most fun things I do.

  1. I get to bask in others’ reflected glory.

Confession time: As an author, I get jealous of other writers. All the time. But when a client of mine signs a new book deal, has a new book release, or appears on Fixer Upper (I can still hope, can’t I?), it’s a joy. I can still be insanely jealous of other writers, while rejoicing for and with those who are my clients. It’s the best of both worlds, really.

So, yeah, I’m enjoying being an agent. Not everything about it is hunky dory, let alone peachy keen (and I’ll post about those bits next week). But most of it is.


30 Responses to The Best Parts of Being an Agent

  1. Janine Rosche October 17, 2018 at 3:32 am #

    7. You get a front row seat to the real life character arc of writers as they embark of their own “hero’s journey.” Plus, you get to play the role of “wise mentor.” That has to be encouraging at best. Or entertaining at worst—-you’re welcome, by the way.

    • Bob Hostetler October 17, 2018 at 6:04 am #

      There is that, Janine. There is that.

  2. Sharon Kay Connell October 17, 2018 at 5:10 am #

    I’m not too young to know Foghorn. Love that character. And I’m happy to be a friend. 🙂

    You’re right about it being a joke though. We will never know everything, will we. There’s always more to learn, and in the writing world, things keep changing. It’s our job to keep up with them.

    What a joy it must be to read so many stories. You should love your job.

    • Bob Hostetler October 17, 2018 at 6:05 am #

      I say, I say, yes, indeed, Sharon.

    • Damon J. Gray October 17, 2018 at 6:40 am #

      “Boy, I say, ‘Boy…'”

  3. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser October 17, 2018 at 6:04 am #

    Has it been fifteen months already? Wow. But you know what the T. Rex who wandered onto the set of “The Sound Of Music” used to say – time flies when you’re eating nuns.

    In a life where it’s gotten hard for me to be looking forward to anything, you’ve made Wednesdays a special treat with your humour, intelligence, and decency, and I thank you for that.

    • Bob Hostetler October 17, 2018 at 6:11 am #

      Wow, Andrew, thank you. May you live in the assurance that your momentary troubles are achieving for you an eternal glory that will far outweigh them all (2 Corinthians 4:17).

    • Judith Robl October 17, 2018 at 7:09 am #

      Andrew, there are those of us who look forward to your wit and insight. You are contributing more than you know to many lives. Eventually I look forward to being able to count the stars in your crown.

      I think I was eight when I discovered the concept of infinity. My grandfather was teaching me math when I found that no matter how big the number, you could always add one more.

      I’m grateful that we’ll have eternity for me to learn to count that high.

      • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser October 17, 2018 at 7:25 am #

        Judith, I’m honoured by your words; you’ve brought light and warmth to a viciously painful morning, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

        • Judith Robl October 17, 2018 at 10:53 am #

          I’m glad, Andrew. I weep inwardly for your situation and struggle to remind myself that you belong to God and He is faithful, so I need not worry. But oh, the human tendency. Grace, peace, and love, my cyber friend.

          • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser October 17, 2018 at 12:54 pm #

            Judith, I count myself as truly the luckiest man alive.

            Only this crucible could have taught me so much, and the greatest of these lessons is how to truly give, receive, and treasure Love.

            The love of my family, my friends, and the everlasting Love of the Almighty.

            I would not have missed this for the world.

  4. Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D October 17, 2018 at 6:31 am #

    Bob, your blog postings are always so uplifting and fun. (Well, maybe not next week, from what you said.) Even after only fifteen months, you are a fount of information. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. Foghorn who? Never heard of him, thanks to my extreme youth (or perhaps I’ve just been sitting under a rock somewhere…)

    • Bob Hostetler October 17, 2018 at 9:37 am #

      Extreme youth. Stick to that story, Sheri.

  5. Damon J. Gray October 17, 2018 at 6:41 am #

    >>Life is pretty great when you love and respect the people you work with, day in and day out.<<

    That line, right there, Bob…

  6. Barbara Ellin Fox October 17, 2018 at 6:43 am #

    It’s nice to know that I’m in the same boat as Agent Bob—Yup, I have a lot to learn! But I did learn this past weekend from your classes and spent the next two days sifting through all the thoughts swarming my brain. My brain has the information categorized today. Relief.

    Another thing I learned is that you’re much funnier in person and very kind. I appreciated meeting you.

    • Judith Robl October 17, 2018 at 7:02 am #

      Barbara, I’m so jealous. I so wanted to be able to sit under Bob’s tutelage last weekend, but my train-wrecked schedule simply wouldn’t allow. I hope you enjoyed twice – once for you and once for me.

      And Bob, I’m almost too old for Foghorn. He was a late-comer in my life.

    • Bob Hostetler October 17, 2018 at 9:38 am #

      Barbara, it was a pleasure to meet you and get to know you a bit.

  7. Tisha Martin October 17, 2018 at 7:08 am #

    I l-o-v-e Foghorn Leghorn!! Such dry, sensible humor. 😉 Are you going to reference Yosemite Sam or perhaps Wiley Coyote next week? 😀

    It’s been neat to look over the past year at your agent journey. I’m sure those firehose moments—um, months—are intimidating and thrilling all in the same breath. However, your encouragement, wisdom, and dedication has been refreshing and greatly appreciated. Thank you for all you’ve done in this year to help writers on their journeys.

    • Bob Hostetler October 17, 2018 at 9:40 am #

      No, Yosemite Sam and Wile E. Coyote (spell it right the next time) have NOTHING on Foghorn Leghorn. Or Precious Pup. Or Quick Draw McGraw.

      • Tisha Martin October 18, 2018 at 11:00 am #

        I can’t help I was slightly too young to know how Wile E. Coyote was *supposed* to be spelled. It’s those phonetics I was raised on.

        Me wonders how Foghorn Leghorn is gonna show up next week then, since he obviously is the King of cartoons. 😉 I say, should be a mighty fine show, a mighty fine … blog post.

  8. Carol Ashby October 17, 2018 at 7:33 am #

    Bob, if I ever were to want an agent, it would be someone like you with a true love for our Lord and a great sense of humor. Thanks for all the great posts that encourage and inform us indies at least as much as your present and future clients. Thanks even more for all the laughs while you do it.

  9. Norma Brumbaugh October 17, 2018 at 8:04 am #

    Thank you for sharing.

  10. Roberta Sarver October 17, 2018 at 9:57 am #

    Bob, Yes, I’m familiar with Foghorn Leghorn, and spent many Saturday mornings watching him.

    While I got to sit at the cool kids’ table in high school (many, many years ago), what I really look forward to is getting to know writers. (I’ve lost track of most of those high school friends anyway) And your blogs, as well as others from the Laube agency, provide the daily instruction we need to learn this craft better.

    Many thanks! Roberta Sarver

  11. Monica Butler October 17, 2018 at 10:01 am #

    I did not know you before you were an agent, and I only met you this past weekend, but it is quite apparent that you are walking in a role that beautifully blends your experience and your passion in a remarkable way. (And by remarkable I mean so reflective of your pastoral heart and the grace of your Savior, and so beautifully sprinkled with your levity and humor.) 🙂

    Thank you for saying “yes” to serving others as an agent, and for allowing the Lord to use you to encourage others seeking to move past their fears to follow His call in obedience as well.

    • Bob Hostetler October 18, 2018 at 10:55 am #

      Thank you, Monica. That’s very kind.

  12. Brennan S. McPherson October 18, 2018 at 9:19 am #

    I always am curious when I hear writers say they get jealous over other writers. I guess I’m not really sure what’s meant by that? I’ve never felt jealous for other writers. I’ve felt indignation that a bad book gets praised (*cough* every book by Nicholas Sparks *cough*–sorry, I just think writers like Charles Martin are way superior to Mr. Sparks), but that’s not because of anything having to do with the writer, it’s more-so irritation at the readers for praising a relatively crappy (or just less great) piece of work while ignoring so many other really wonderful books that exist on bookshelves. My problem has never been jealousy, but rather an overly inflated sense of self-importance. Grandiosity. Which leads to a sort of (un)righteous anger at being given a 1-star review for a book I know isn’t worthy of a 1-star review. I think that’s distinctly different from jealousy. I’m just curious what you mean when you say you get jealous over other writers?

    • Bob Hostetler October 18, 2018 at 10:53 am #

      Oh, you want me to expose my fallen, corrupt, and deformed nature for all to see, do you? Okay. Okay, then.

      Maybe it’s the opposite of a sense of self-importance. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. I see other authors’ books and they look so pretty! They’re so well written. And they win awards and sell so well. And my default is, “I want that.” Maybe it’s covetousness more than jealousy. Maybe they grow from the same self-centered root. Or maybe it’s just insecurity. Or maybe it relates to my “imposter syndrome,” I dunno. I celebrate (or try to celebrate) my friends’ well-deserved success, but often want not just success like theirs…but their success to be MINE, MINE, MINE, all MINE, I tell you! Bwahahaha.

      So there. Are you happy now that I have exposed the dark workings of my innermost being? I hope so, sir. I hope so.

      • Brennan S. McPherson October 18, 2018 at 12:16 pm #

        That actually makes a lot more sense. Thanks for explaining it in a bit more detail. We’re all fallen, me no less than you. I have those same feelings but the thought is more, “I deserve that” than “I want that.” Which… I think you could probably say is worse. Hah!

      • claire o'sullivan November 10, 2018 at 2:11 am #

        my SLA blog notices come to all different folders in my gmail and I could weep. Late to the party.

        But insanely jealous of other writers … well, okay, me too. I get that. I am joyous for their success, yet as I plod away on the novel that never ends while the 25 yr. old tokin’ cousin-with-the-hee-haw laugh gets three book deals after schlepping through a self publishing new age thingy for an insane amount of money… and… says… SO HOW’S THE WRITING THING GOING?

        I am overjoyed that he is prospering, but youngin’ (cuzin), “Say ‘writing thing’ One. More. Time.”

        I can’t imagine how it is to be an agent except with desk overflowing, buffing up the arms from throwing queries over your shoulder, and wanting but not admitting you want a good stiff drink at the end of the week. Which are few of the many reasons I would be a terrible agent.

        If ever you agented a book of mine, Bob, I am pretty sure I would have to dedicate at least an entire page to you. Stamp the front with Agented By ! and on the back flap. See? I’d help.

  13. Tez Brooks October 24, 2018 at 8:53 am #

    Can’t help but notice there’s a glaring lack of “Tez” mentioned in your blog post. What gives? I can only assume the best. That you ran out of space. I’ll let it slide this time.

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