Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Real Talk: Agent Life

So this happened:

And I'm pretty happy that Jenn clarified what she meant, because the statement in the bottom tweet has me all fired up.

Fact: for MANY, agenting is kind of like this: 

No, not that we're all secretly crazy (I just happen to like this clip); what I mean is that what we present, and what the world sees, is a fraction of the reality.

I'll be honest; it's taken me many years to find the courage to write about this in a post, because of potential backlash from authors OUTRAGED at the idea or my clients FREAKING OUT about my availability.

But you know what? That's crazy. Because the bottom line is that I am a better agent because of it.

So here it is: when I, and quite a LOT of new agents, started out...agenting wasn't my only job. I had three jobs, actually; mostly because I'm a crazy person who thrives on challenge, but even that isn't all that uncommon: I know agents who have two jobs, write their own books, AND have a bunch of kidlets running around. Some agents work 9-5 in an agency as an assistant; others also handle sub rights or even just have kids - that's a job in and of itself, you know.

And right now? Heck, I still have another job and a kidlet of my own, because I happen to love both things very much. And for any agent who continues to write, or assistant, or crochet and sell adorable little hats: if it's not slowing you down (and in fact, I'd argue a lot of "other jobs" only benefit the agent, in both experience and networking and time management), why do you have to stop?

Because trust me; as an agent who does it all, I am constantly only doing better because of the challenge. Last year was my best year ever, and this year, I've already exceeded that by 45% - even negotiated a deal while in labor. And the year's not over.

What's important, as Jenn noted in the tweet above, is that the other jobs don't conflict with agent duties; absolutely, a second job should never be a conflict of interests.

I LOVE what I do; and yes, I do think there should come a time when an agent can pay the bills from what they do - if he or she is doing it full time. It used to be a 3-5 year ramp up; now, with digital offers and lower advances, I'd say it can be 5-7. Because remember, this is a commission-based in a snail-paced industry job; royalties take time to ramp up, and advances are paid out in increments, once that contract is negotiated.

But even if an agent is never able to make it fully on their own (without another job, or support of a spouse) does that REALLY mean he or she isn't a real or legit agent? That he or she should try another job? I don't think so. Sometimes, doing what you love, what you're best at, doesn't ever pay the bills. Doesn't mean you should stop.

Writers, hear us roar! Publishing can just be that way. It doesn't mean we're not successful!

Though word of caution: there's still a big, big difference between a legit agent working her ass off who can't pay the bills yet and a schmagent.

But this publishing biz can be a bitch; let's not make it any harder for ourselves by being haters and assuming our walk of life should apply all around. That goes for everyone out there - writers (traditional, self pub, hybrid), agents, editors, publishers, publicists, etc.

Be strong. Be fierce. And don't apologize if you're being awesome just because it's not what everyone thinks being awesome should look like.

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