It was a Quiet Week

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by Steve Laube

It was an quiet week in the agenting business. Periodically I like to peel back the curtain on what we do as literary agents because for many it remains a mystery or as a job that is unnecessary.

I love my job. I am so very blessed to be able to do something I love and help so many people while doing it. Without further ado, here are a number of things that crossed my path this week.

Two different publishers told me they were auditioning writers for their respective projects. This means a publisher has a specific project or two but they need to find the right writer to do it. With one of the editors I had a long conversation so I could be prepared to answer our client’s questions. Each audition’s instructions were sent out to various clients who had indicated an interest in doing that kind of work. Later in the week I fielded a number of the auditions already completed by these writers. Read each to make sure they fit the parameters set by the publisher and sent them out for the audition.

We lost a good man in our industry last week, Ron Benrey. Karen blogged about him last Wednesday. That blog was read by a client who had not heard the news and was shocked since they had known each other for many years. The client called to talk and it became a special time for the two of us to reminisce about our mutual friend and bring some solace to the conversation.

Was able to convince a publisher to declare a client’s book out-of-print and revert the rights. This is not always an easy process but this time it went rather smoothly.

After numerous emails was able to raise the idea of taking another client’s older title and repackage it in a different form with the same publisher. The book is nearly 10 years old but the content is still fresh and could be easily reworked to fit a new concept.

Started the process to refurbish this website. As I mentioned last week the site is sputtering and needs to be rebuilt. A six year old site in Internet Years is equivalent to having a 30 year old car engine. After a while it simply won’t run the way it should. My hope is that you won’t notice the difference but that the site and the blog will be more responsive and mobile-friendly.

Prepared to leave for the Blue Ridge Writers conference in North Carolina (where I am today). Teaching three classes and meeting with dozens of authors and editors. There are over 400 of us gathered at this event!

An editor called regarding a long time client who, for health reasons, has all but stopped a vigorous writing schedule. We discussed ideas on how to maximize the author’s body of work and what would make the most sense both for the publisher and for the author.

Had conversations via email and the phone with Tamela, Karen, and Dan about each of their client’s projects. Worked out strategies and protocol for each individual case.

Sent out a client’s proposal to over a dozen publishers. The culmination of over a year’s worth of conversations and a month’s worth of editorial back-and-forth preparing the manuscript and proposal.

Began setting appointments with publishers for the ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) convention in late June in Atlanta.

Helped a publisher dig deep to find out that they had missed a full month’s of ebook sales in their latest royalty report to a client. The author and I had noticed a discrepancy from what had been stated in an email about sales and the actual sales reported. Through a series of questions was able to narrow the information so that the answer was found. The author will be receiving a check for the royalties underpaid.

Fielded a series of questions from an author who is deciding whether or not to secure a literary agent. The writer is multi-published but has never had an agent and want to make sure expectations and responsibilities are clear before making that decision. A recent situation had illustrated the need for someone with our agency’s skill set.

Reacted strongly to a new cover design for a client’s book. The editor accepted the words with grace. Hoping the second round finds a much stronger design to match the strength of the content.

Helped quell a rumor that a specific publisher was acquiring a specific genre. The info was taken from a web site that had not updated their information. Fortunately we had recently received a note from that publisher saying they were not interested in that genre right now. Our client was disappointed but accepted the news very well.

Continued an ongoing conversation with a publisher who had made numerous changes to their contract without talking to us about it. The discussion has been quite cordial. Hopefully our concerns will be received positively by their legal department.

Dealt with frustration from two clients regarding Piracy web sites where their books have been found. One site was in China. The other is in one of the countries in the Baltic region. That may need to be a blog post for another day.

A long conversation with a client catching up on what seemed like a billion new things happening in their world. Ended with a few select “action items” which we will both follow up on in a few weeks.

I would classify it as a “quiet week.” Hope this helps you see that variety of things an agent does. And how many of them don’t necessarily “make money.” An agent’s job is about so much more than just the art of the deal. Make no mistake, the contract deal is important, but it is not the sole focus of our work.

6 Responses to It was a Quiet Week

  1. Terry Whalin May 19, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    Steve,

    Thanks for another great article here. The job of being an agent is much more complicated than people realize and these types of articles help understanding.

    Terry

  2. Jenny Leo May 19, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    Love hearing about “a week in the life.” It sounds like the winds can change direction with every new phone call or e-mail, and you have to keep adjusting your sails or risk getting whacked by the boom.

  3. Jeanne Takenaka May 19, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

    Steve, you do keep busy. I’m fascinated by all that agents do in their jobs. :) I have a curiosity question for you. Does your agency have the option to give authors some say in their cover designs? I’ve heard numerous stories about authors and how much/how little pull they have in the creation of their book covers. Just curious. :)

    Have a wonderful time at Blue Ridge!

  4. Sandy Mauck May 20, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    I really enjoyed reading this. Being wet behind the ears in the industry, it helps to see more of the backdrop.

  5. Lisa May 21, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    Interesting! Thanks for sharing this. Although if this was a “quiet” week, I would hate to see a busy one!

    It’s great to see all the little and big things you do for your clients. I’m sure it must be very satisfying to get all the knots untied in these various situations.

  6. Carolyn Curtis May 23, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    Fascinating post, Steve! And thank you for honoring Ron Benrey with another kind and respectful mention.

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