Do agents really represent the author or the book?

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pabrown
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Do agents really represent the author or the book?

Post by pabrown » February 23rd, 2010, 8:45 pm

I keep hearing so many agents say they want to represent the author and their career, not just a single book. If this is so, why then do agents say they have to absolutely love a book in order to take it on? What if they love the book I'm pitching right now, and it sells, am I then supposed to produce clones of that book to keep the agent loving my future books? What if I want to pursue something different? Experiment or mix genres? I confess I'm a bit confused by this notion that an agent has to fall madly in love with a book to sell it. If a book is marketable, why is this so? Does a real estate agent have to love your house to sell it? Does anyone really believe those big name movie stars shelling cosmetics or some hair shampoo actually use those products to the exclusion of all others? If an agent understands the market and what editors are asking for, why do they need to love it to sell it?

Puzzled author.

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Ryan
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Re: Do agents really represent the author or the book?

Post by Ryan » February 24th, 2010, 1:38 am

Does anyone really believe those big name movie stars shelling cosmetics or some hair shampoo actually use those products to the exclusion of all others?
Seriously! No Olympic caliber athlete eats McNuggets with any regularity.

I would hope that my future agent really loves my book. I think the type of deals they land would be bigger and better if they are truly passionate about the work they are selling. That said though, if a bad-ass cutthroat agent saw the potential in my multimedia memoir and say...landed a deal with a publisher and Apple to preload it on all the 2011 IPads then I wouldn't really care if he likes the book or not!
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jordynface
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Re: Do agents really represent the author or the book?

Post by jordynface » February 24th, 2010, 1:58 am

I'm guessing the whole agent/love thing has to do with how much time the agent will end up spending with your book, especially if she/he is a hands-on agent who's going to be making editorial suggestions, etc. Also: agents are more like spokespeople for books than salespeople. You can lie to sell something, but being an actual spokesperson carries a genuine level of excitement about the product with it, I would think.

(And no Olympian is sitting up there in Vancouver chowing down on McNuggets right now. I mean seriously.)

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JustineDell
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Re: Do agents really represent the author or the book?

Post by JustineDell » February 24th, 2010, 8:45 am

I've read that when you are first starting out, mixing genres is a no-no. It's best to stick with one and then build a readership that would follow you another genre. You can't brand youself well enough if you've got your hand in twelve different buckets. Do one, do it well, then move on if you want.

I think this falls within the agents guidelines. If they like the first book you wrote, chances are they will like the second (if it's the same genre).


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Re: Do agents really represent the author or the book?

Post by casnow » February 27th, 2010, 2:07 pm

I think they are representing both. However, I think that they need to really love a book in order to take on a client - We've all seen the stats, and if an agent is going to make you one of their new clients, then they probably want to be absolutely sure that they can sell your first book... they probably also want to make sure they sell your first book so you stay with them over the long haul. I couldn't imagine anything more frustrating than spending time developing an author and then have the author jump ship before you make any money from one of their books.

However, I'm sure that AFTER that first book, they are representing YOU the author. By the time they've gone through the difficult part of getting your through your first published novel they've also put an investment into you, and I'm sure they would be saddened to lose you after the first book.

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Re: Do agents really represent the author or the book?

Post by Nick » February 27th, 2010, 10:40 pm

Well, going by your question of, why do agents ask for the book if they want to represent the author, I'd say it's because it makes it much easier on them. Someone who wrote a terrible, terrible thing that could never pass as literature could become their best friend. Fine. Great. But it's not doing the "writer" or the agent any favors. And I imagine there are a lot more likable writers than bitter chaps such as myself. So at the very least, they need to know you have potential. Once they've seen you have talent, they are representing you, the author, along with your product. I mean, you don't see Stephen King sitting on a shelf in Borders, do you? If so, kindly direct me to your town, because I would love to purchase him and make him write for me. But again, they need to know the author has some chance to sell or else they'd probably waste all their time trying to find representation for agony. I feel like I've just repeated myself thirty times. I need to learn to stop replying to this things late at night and first thing in the morning.

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Re: Do agents really represent the author or the book?

Post by BlancheKing » February 28th, 2010, 9:54 pm

I think the relationship works both ways. An agent represents an author because he loves the author's work. At the same time, the author is expected to maintain the same quality of work if he expects future representation. Seeing as all agents have reputations to keep, it's only fair that they represent only the books they believe will contribute to the market's demand.
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