Do you feel like you’re being ignored by your literary agent? Wondering if your manuscript is at the bottom of your literary agent’s priority list? Is your agent ignoring your emails and phone calls? Or do you simply feel that your agent is not giving enough attention to your writing career?
Why Literary Agents Ignore Their Clients
Before you decide that your literary agent is ignoring you, be sure that you are accurate in your perception. Remember: While writing certainly can be a business, it’s also extremely personal. And that can lead writers to misinterpret innocent behaviors as insults and slights against them.
That said, sometimes literary agents do fail their clients. Some agents agree to represent more clients than they can handle and provide only a minimum amount of support, casting a wide net in hopes that one of his or her clients will turn out to be a best seller.
Other literary agents take on fewer writers and spend a lot more time developing their clients’ careers—but these agents also might be the first to drop a writer who isn’t making money, since the agency is assuming a risk with their time investment.
Here Are Some Of The Signs That Your Literary Agent May Be Ignoring You
- The agent does not return your phone calls
- The agent takes a long time to reply to your emails
- When the agent does return your email or phone call, he or she often seems rushed, distracted, and disinterested
- The agent does not answer your questions thoroughly
- The literary agent does not seem excited about you or enthusiastic about your work
- The literary agent has promised to send out your manuscript or to return a critique to you but has failed to do so in a timely fashion
- The literary agent has neglected to follow up with publishers and editors about your book
What To Do If You Want More Attention From Your Literary Agent
If your literary agent really is too busy for you, there might not be a lot you can do to change the situation. But there are some things to try.
Get more flies with honey. By being a good client, you’ll be more likely to find yourself prioritized. So what does it mean to be a good client? First, you must have a really fabulous book that is the complete package. Second, you should be patient, polite, and genuinely caring. Make the effort to go out of your way and show who you are on a personal level: Send over a meaningful gift during the holidays, or send a note expressing how excited and grateful you are that your agent takes such good care of you.
Try to demonstrate that you are accommodating your agent’s tardiness. In your emails and correspondence, be kind and polite, noting that you understand that your agent is busy, that there’s a lot going on, but that you would truly appreciate a response as soon as possible. By acknowledging that the agent is busy, you show that you respect him or her and appreciate the work being done on your behalf.
Ask for a deadline. If your agent promises to read your manuscript and give you feedback, ask for a deadline on the grounds that you will need to shuffle your work schedule in order to dedicate your time to forthcoming revisions.
Plus, keep in mind that if you are going to ask your agent to meet a deadline, you must also be prepared to do the same thing. Don’t blow your deadlines.
It’s not you, it’s me. If you are a good client and are doing everything you can to help your career take off, then it may be time to tackle the situation head on. Ask your agent for a phone call, and be sure to keep the tone friendly and upbeat: I know you’re a really fantastic agent. I’m so lucky to be working with you. I’m wondering if there’s anything that I can do to make it easier for you to reply to me more quickly. How do you prefer to be contacted? Is there anything that I can do to help make this process easier for both of us?
When you’re really fed up… If you’ve been nice and it’s gotten you no where, it may be time to get tough. You absolutely should be the first advocate for your own writing: If your agent is not getting the job done, then you need to find one who will. Express your concerns and disappointment in moderate and professional terms. And then, if you need to, be prepared to walk away.
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