So you’ve signed with an agent! Huzzah!

Now the work begins again. While each agent works a bit differently, here are some things you can expect:

  • If the agent had revisions they wanted you to make, you might receive additional notes and begin revising.
  • If you’re an illustrator, they might ask for samples to send to their contacts.
  • Once something is ready to go out, you might see their submission list, note if there’s an editor you feel strongly about (positively or negatively) and talk about what you might work on next while the current project is being shopped.

Signs that things are on the right path once you’re out on submission with an agent:

You get updates in the form of passes and/or revision requests from editors.

Your agent has a high response rate from editors. (In other words, while some editors just don’t respond unless they’re interested, you should hear back from at least 90 – 95% of the editors your agent submits to. No response should be an exception, not the rule.)

Rejections seem to imply that – on the whole – your agent has a good sense of what those particular editors are looking for. Sure, we’ll all have our misses, but you shouldn’t consistently feel like the submissions are wildly off the mark.

You and your agent have an understanding about the strategy behind the submission round and you feel confident in where the manuscript is going and what the plan is for it next.

When a manuscript is shelved, you can understand why – whether it’s that all the promising options have been exhausted, you’ve heard multiple times that the market is oversaturated with that particular subject, or it’s clear that another major revision must be done and perhaps it’s been decided that energy might be better spent on something new.

From submission, to offer, to contract negotiation, to pre-publication marketing and publicity plans, you should feel like your agent understands what’s going on and is on top of what should be happening for your book.

That said…

Sometimes, you’re going to hear advice from your agent that is tough to take. A favorite project that – perhaps – just doesn’t have legs in the current market and so won’t be shopped. Or maybe you need to change something about your social media presence to be more appealing to your target audience. Or maybe the revision you thought you nailed needs another round.

But ultimately, your agent is on your side – and you should feel like you’re working towards the same long-term career goals.

Signs it might be time to have a hard conversation with your agent:

Your agent stopped responding to calls or emails in a timely manner.

It’s been several months and your agent hasn’t responded to your latest revision or new manuscript.

You want to take your career in a completely different direction, but your agent isn’t interested in representing that genre.

There’s been a general lack of forward movement – even accounting for the general slowness of the publishing industry and the fact that we all have personal lives.

There’s a general lack of transparency, your payments are late and/or statements don’t make sense, etc.

You feel like you can’t contact your agent or that you feel like you’ve become a ‘bother.’

Chicken Wants a Nap by Tracy Marchini

"A surprising gem." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Chicken Wants a Nap is available at Amazon, Barnes & NobleTarget and your favorite independent bookstore!

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