Ten Commandments for Working with Your Agent

By request, here are my Ten Commandments for working with your agent. Break them at your own peril. Thou shalt vent only to thine agent and never directly to thy publisher or editor.

  1. Thou shalt not get whipped into a frenzy by the rumor mill fomented by internet loops, groups, Facebook, or blogs.
  2. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s success. Be content with thine own contract.
  3. If thou hast a dispute with thine agent thou shalt talk to thy agent and seekest resolution. Jumping ship for no good reason is unprofessional…and agents talketh to each other.
  4. Thou shalt consider thy deadlines as sacrosanct. Thy hand signeth the contract, therefore thou art obligated. Thou shalt not expect thy agent to miraculously create extra time, at the last minute.
  5. Respecteth the boundaries of the communication relationship with thy agent. Do not risketh being classified as a spammer or high maintenance by thy agent.
  6. Thou shalt be reasonable and balanced with regard to Facebook, Twitter, blogging, or blogs. Thou art a writer….not a teenager. (Thy social networking and Internet writing shouldeth be related to marketing efforts or to increasing thy platform and readership.) Remembereth…every word written on Facebook is a word not written on thy manuscript. [This commandment was revised on 9/25/10  in response to visceral reactions both public and private. I previously stated that a writer should spend no more than an hour a week with social networking and blogs. Boy did I touch a nerve!]
  7. Keepeth it all in perspective. Selling only eight thousand books still meaneth 8,000 people have “bought a ticket” to read thy work. That crowd would filleth a basketball arena.
  8. Remember thy calling to be a writer and keep it holy. You are in the business of changing the world word by word. Everything else is secondary.
  9. Thou shall rise and call thy agent blessed. (and send chocolates at Christmas and cash on birthdays…)
  10. If thou dost not have an agent, do not passeth “Go.” Instead grabbeth one and bringeth said agent into thy camp ASAP. This industry is a labyrinth and thou shalt someday discover thou needest one, and then it shall be too late. Real life examples available upon request.

__________
Permission is granted to use this in your own bog or web site, as long as you include the following copyright notice:
© 2010 Steve Laube of The Steve Laube Agency (
www.stevelaube.com)

39 Responses to Ten Commandments for Working with Your Agent

  1. Lois Hudson September 24, 2010 at 8:46 am #

    Thanks for these wise and witty commandments,
    and for lightening the serious business of writing.
    “A spoonful of sugar…”

  2. Christeene Fraser September 24, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    Steve, you’re killing me. Only ONE hour per week on Facebook? Can I go sacrifice a poem on an alter somewhere to atone for constantly breaking this commandment? It’s like crack. I frequently have to write in a section of my favorite library that has terrible, sporadic wifi, so that I won’t be led into temptation.

  3. Mark Allen Schmidt September 24, 2010 at 8:55 am #

    Thanks for the commandments.

    My question is with paragraph two of the 10th; “Grabbath thou an agent verily, ASAP.” Is there and agent who would actually take the challenge of joining my camp. I’m willing and able to try it on my own but I am also willing to work with a daring and dashing agent.

    Perhaps Steve will one day ride with my “band of gypsies as we roll down the highway.”

    Blessings and keep up your good work. Mark

  4. Steve September 24, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    Christeene,

    Here is a post about Facebook I wrote a year ago. It explains my seemingly onerous restriction. And note that this “restriction” is a challenge as much as a rule: http://www.stevelaube.com/do-you-facebook/

    • Anna Labno August 27, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

      I don’t have a problem with facebook. I rarely visit the site.
      My problem is promising other authors to read their books.
      That keeps me away from my work.

  5. Jill September 24, 2010 at 11:16 am #

    Really? No more than an hour on social media? Yeah!!! I’m so happy to see that as part of the 10 commandments. More than an hour on social media makes me completely crazy.

  6. Sharon Kirk Clifton September 24, 2010 at 11:53 am #

    Mr. Laube,

    I attended the ACFW workshop where you presented this. It was a great session. Though I don’t have an agent quite yet, I’m keeping your ten commandments for future reference.

    Only number seven gives me pause. Certainly we need to limit our time on social sites, since they can become addictive, but blogs? When we slam up against a concrete writer’s block, we need to keep writing, even if it isn’t on our wip just then. A blog offers a creative outlet. Further, since I write middle-grade fiction, it’s a pleasant diversion to write for adult readers–other writers, primarily.

    Truth be told, I don’t blog unless I have something to write about, however. It’s not a daily compulsion. And when I’m immersed in the wip, the blog is temporarily forgotten.

    Oh-oh! I’m in trouble. I’m using up a big chunk of my weekly hour re-reading your “ten” list and commenting. I must get back to the real work.

    Write on!

  7. Mari-Anna Frangén Stålnacke September 24, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

    “9# Remember thy calling to be a writer and keep it holy. You are in the business of changing the world word by word. Everything else is secondary.”

    Excellent! Maybe I should tape this on my computer. ;)
    Thanks for sharing.
    Blessings!

  8. Steve September 24, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    Who would have thought that #7 would get such a surge of “yikes” from y’all? It is sort of said tongue-in-cheek, but there is truth to it.

    I think the “guilt” some feel has made my point. Social networking is wonderful. But if it sacrifices your work, then stop! If it effects your family or community relationships, then stop!

    These online things are a tool, not a replacement.

    Steve

  9. V.V. Denman September 24, 2010 at 6:41 pm #

    #7 is causing me some confusion. I recently laid off blogging to focus on my writing, but then was reprimanded at a local Conference for not promoting my work through blogging. Now you’re telling me to set aside the blog and focus on my next book. I’m dizzy from spinning around. If building up a reader base on my blog isn’t important, then for crying out loud, why are “they” telling me I’ve gotta do it?

  10. Steve September 24, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    Let me repeat myself.

    #7 about social media and blogging is a poke at you writers who use it to the point of procrastination and distraction from your regular writing. I never wrote “Don’t Blog.” I never wrote “Don’t Facebook.” I wrote, in essence, “Use balance.”

    Blogging and social networking is a fine use of your talents and keeps you in touch with your fans in a good way. And it can build readership and a following. HOWEVER, I have worked with far too many writers who are on deadline and posting on Twitter or Facebook about how they are playing hooky at an ice cream shoppe. Then I get an email from that writer’s editor asking, “What’s up with your client?”

    Or another client who had to admit to spending over an hour per day on the internet just playing with friends on Facebook or “doodling” on their blog.

    Now does my “rule” make sense?

    I repeat to those of you reading these comments: Here is a post about Facebook I wrote a year ago. It explains my seemingly onerous restriction. And note that this “restriction” is a challenge as much as a rule: http://www.stevelaube.com/do-you-facebook/

  11. S. Denise Cornelius September 24, 2010 at 8:16 pm #

    LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT! Thank you, Mr. Laube, for your humorous, yet wise list of do’s and don’ts. I do not yet have an agent, however, I will file away these 10 Commandments for future use and refer to them often.

  12. V.V. Denman September 24, 2010 at 8:42 pm #

    I think I’ve got it now, but I must admit I’m disappointed. I was sort of excited at the possibility of letting the blog go. I’ll continue with the balancing act as is. Thanks for your patience with another clueless newby.

  13. Ellie Kay September 24, 2010 at 8:59 pm #

    My blog is part of my writing and resume. I’ve generated media ops, spokesperson invitations, writing assignments and even speaking gigs by paying attention to my blog. When people ask me financial questions, my office can refer them to one of my blogs that answers it. I’m not just naval gazing on this social media outlet (my blog). If I write a carefully crafted blog and maintain an FB presence, it’s easily more than an hour a week.

    So, Mr. tongue-in-cheek, I guess that’s one commandment I’ll be breaking! :-) PLEASE don’t say it…you want me to get back to writing my proposal. yeah. yeah.

  14. Andra Marquardt September 24, 2010 at 9:02 pm #

    Funny how my reaction to #7 was “yes!” A few years ago I had to go cold-turkey on the whole blogging thing and concentrate more on my novels and other writing. My problem wasn’t so much the adding entries as the constant looking forward to the comments on said blog, and the obligation to reciprocate. It’s a vicious cycle that can waste a lot of time.

    Although an hour a week seems a bit harsh . . . :).

    Thanks for the Commandments, Steve. They’ll help keep things in perspective, especially with #9.

  15. Sharon Kirk Clifton September 25, 2010 at 2:21 am #

    Mr. Laube,

    It comes down to this: if we are called by our Sovereign to write, if that is a talent He has entrusted to us, we should invest that talent in a way that will bring a good return, not bury it in the ground under a mound of FB messages, tweets, and wasted time. If the enemy can distract us from the task at hand, he certainly will. Number nine says it all. Thank you for the reminder.

    Write On!
    Because of Christ,
    Sharon

  16. Rebecca Barlow Jordan September 25, 2010 at 9:30 am #

    I love this, Steve! Thanks for posting it. Great rules for good balance. Now if we can just keep them! I love the humor in yours. Some time ago I wrote “Ten Commandments for Writers,” that’s been on my website at http://bit.ly/dcaXY5. I also wrote a piece, “Rebecca’s Writing Rules of Disorder,” that’s also been on my site at http://bitly/bRLe3u. Both of these are on my “Freebies” page. I know, shameless promoting–I think my agent taught me about that! Thanks for permission to use your blog. Now I have my blog for this week and don’t have to break commandment #7!

  17. Rebecca Barlow Jordan September 25, 2010 at 9:35 am #

    Whoops, Steve. Sorry I gave the wrong url for the second piece in my comment above: “Rebecca’s Writing Rules of Disorder.” It should be
    http://bit.ly/RLe3u. Once again, I enjoyed your blog!

  18. Steve September 25, 2010 at 10:04 am #

    Unfortunately Rebecca’s link above does not work. So I’ve provided the full URL to her web site and her list of writing rules:
    http://www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com/freebies/rebeccas-writing-rules-of-disorder/

    Steve

  19. Julia September 25, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

    If I only spent an hour a week on blogs and Facebook, I would never have got to read this ^_^

  20. Jessica September 26, 2010 at 6:10 am #

    I’m not a teenager anymore?? Really?? LOL! Love your list!!!

  21. Alice September 26, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    Steve, you rock.

  22. Timothy September 26, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    Number 7 is an impossible commandment to keepeth, you know. :)

  23. Steve September 26, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    I get that I touched a nerve with #7.

    Hmmm. Wonder why? Maybe the nerve is too sensitive and exposed?

    What did everyone do BEFORE Facebook? What did it replace in your life?

    Think about it. That is all I’m asking. I’m not saying “Don’t use it.” I’m obviously challenging folks to think twice before logging in.

    Steve

  24. Ellie Kay September 26, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    Hey, Mr. Agent-man,

    You’re not just talking facebook, you said “Facebook, Twitter, blogging, or blogs.” One hour a week for all of that, period. Would #7 also other social media interaction such fantasy football, etc? What if folks do this as a way of winding down, like some people play videogames? Can’t it free up a part of the creative mind so that when you get back to work, you are more productive?

    Also, what about a clear, legit use of social media for promotion purposes? There are entire blog tours orchestrated that promote books. Plus, most Fortune 500 companies I work with use social media as a solid leg in their marketing campaigns and I help to create content for those blogs or facebook posts. I think that the general statement of “thou shalt not” needs a caveat such as “excepth as it implicitly relateth to productive and profitable work.”

  25. anon September 26, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    Subset of #2

    If thou feelest the urge to respond to loops, forums, blogs, etc and/or write a blog post etc. and the emotions driving thy urge are in any way negative, hurt, angry, self-righteous or other wise non-milk-and-honey, thou shalt run thine response past thine agent *first* to make sure thou art not running the risk of looking like an idiot.

  26. Steve September 26, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    Okay everyone. I hereby and publicly succumb to being a reasonable person.

    I have revised #7 in such a way to address my concerns and still make my point.

    Anon who commented on #2? Excellent advice. From an agent who has had to defend said dunderheads.

  27. Lenore Buth September 27, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    Today I needed your post, Steve, especially No. 9:

    “Remember thy calling to be a writer and keep it holy. You are in the business of changing the world word by word. Everything else is secondary.”

    Sometimes I forget and then I run dry. Thanks for reminding me who I am and what I’m about.l

  28. Lisa Grace September 28, 2010 at 8:13 pm #

    What brand of chocolates?

  29. erin October 4, 2010 at 6:52 am #

    Thanks for these… I really want to be a good client for my agent, but sometimes I don’t have any idea HOW to do it. I appreciate your insight.

  30. Lorraine Nelson October 5, 2010 at 11:31 am #

    So funny that I run across this list while tweeting. Love it!

  31. Shar MacLaren November 29, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    I think I “broketh” Rule #7 many times over. Glad to see you did extend the time from the previous stated 1 hour per week. That helpeth.

  32. Myrna Duran January 12, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    I’m not a teenager anymore?? Really?? LOL! Love your list!!!

  33. Terrance Leon Austin May 13, 2013 at 5:17 am #

    Awesome and informative. Thanks Steve. Chocolates and cash, I love the humor and the wisdom. Besides, it’s a small price for great professional work. Bless you.

  34. Diane Radel September 22, 2013 at 12:27 am #

    Thank you Mr. Laube for the witty advice. I’m taking this to mean I don’t have to post something every hour, as some marketing experts recommend, to boost readership of my book, and for that I thank you again!
    Even my mother would grow weary of seeing my name pop up that many times, and I was counting on her to buy one copy. All the best, Diane

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Ten Commandments for Working with Your Agent | Steve Laube -- Topsy.com - September 24, 2010

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Taryn Hook, Angie_Ledbetter and Jennifer Shirk, Jennifer H Taylor. Jennifer H Taylor said: Ten Commandments for Working with Your Agent: By request, here are my Ten Commandments for working with your agent… http://bit.ly/cMjfOV [...]

  2. Geek Media Round-Up: September 28, 2010 – Grasping for the Wind - September 28, 2010

    [...] Ten Commandments for Working with Your Agent. [...]

  3. Let Your Agent Be the Bad Guy | Rachelle Gardner - September 5, 2011

    [...] Steve Laube says in his 10 Commandments for Working With Your Agent, “Thou shalt vent only to thine agent and never directly to thy publisher or [...]

  4. A is for Agent | The Steve Laube Agency - April 6, 2014

    […] 10 Commandments for Working with Your Agent […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *