Last month I talked about mine and our agency’s priorities. You can view that post here.
Briefly, the first four were: 1. Contracts, 2. Reviewing/Editing Proposals, 3. Submitting Proposals, 4. Client Detail
5. Editors: I value highly my relationship with editors. Many of them are people I call my friends. I care about their lives, and, in return, they care about mine and the lives of my clients. At the end of the day, people do business with people they like. Doing business is not all about trust and relationship, but it is a huge reason that our agency is successful.
Consequently, each year I make time to meet personally with as many editors as possible. I have to get to know who they are, what they love to read, and what their particular house is looking for. Instead of making the July ICRS convention a priority, I go to Grand Rapids, Chicago, and Eugene every year; Nashville twice a year; and New York every other year, which allows me to visit all the CBA Houses, one on one, in a relaxed environment. ICRS may be handy (all editors together in one place), but they are also pushed, exhausted, and often overwhelmed during that crazy-busy week. I prefer to meet them at a relaxed, less-pressured time, making it enjoyable for all. We get more business done, but more importantly, we do more natural relationship building. Colorado Springs, the other publishing Mecca, is just down the road. I’m usually there monthly.
6. Industry News: The transition that publishing has been going through the last three years has been a game-changer for agents. I’m now spending about 3-5 hours a week reading insider news about the publishing world. It’s a headache, but I do it so you don’t have to.
7. Referrals: While the agency is always looking for the right type of authors, I personally am not looking to expand my author list. For the time being, Barbara is not signing new clients either. I will add a few clients each year, but it is rare. Your confidence in recommending us first to your author friends means a lot, but like every agency, we’re very picky.
What you won’t see me doing…
- I don’t have time or a desire to be famous. Though I tithe a small amount of time each year to encourage new writers, this is not a large focus. Most of my time is dedicated to my author-clients, as this is what they expect me to do (and what I love doing). Other agents do have a desire to be known well, and they have their reasons for this. Writing this monthly blog is hard enough with my jam-packed schedule. If I were to do a daily blog, the work above would greatly suffer. You will rarely read a Tweet from me unless it’s to announce something about what one of our agency clients is doing. Cathy keeps our fan page updated. The bottom line is that WordServe’s aim is for our authors to be well known, not me or the other agents who work in our company. I want to be known as an agency that gets things done; I want to deliver steak not sizzle. Ultimately, this is what authors want and need most.
- Though we are proud of our website and social media efforts (Facebook, this blog, Twitter posts that connect and promote our authors’ projects, our upcoming Pinterest emphasis), this is not our number one priority either. Quite frankly, we already receive way more inquiries than we can handle, so advertising or promoting our company does not benefit us. Word of mouth is our best advertising, when our clients and editors hand our names to excellent writers seeking publication. Most often, enthusiastic referrals from professionals yield our best new clients.
Agenting is about priorities, but so is life. Along with doing this work that I love, Becky and I are involved with people in our church, with our six kids and five grandsons, and trying to keep life balanced and fruitful. It’s a fun challenge.
What priorities matter most to you in a literary agency? (Or if you are a new writer, what would you imagine you’d like your agent’s priorities to be?)