Author Topic: Agents who are also authors/have side gigs  (Read 608 times)

Offline raktinope

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Agents who are also authors/have side gigs
« on: April 12, 2021, 12:50:16 AM »
I've got my list of agents I want to query and would like to here your thoughts on a potential concern: do agents who are also authors, freelance editors, etc. risk neglecting their clients?

This may be overthinking, but when an agent is also a published author or offers other services outside of being agent, it makes me question if they dedicate enough time to their clients. I'm not talking about agents who charge their clients, but agents who have multiple freelance jobs. I understand that a lot of agents start part-time or intern for free while building their list, so doing gigs might be a necessity. In the back of my head though, it's a negative when agents have "side hustles." Am I over thinking this?

For example, here are two completely legitimate agents at legitimate agencies that also are freelance editors: Leah Pierre and Patrice Caldwell

Offline littlewritings

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Re: Agents who are also authors/have side gigs
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2021, 03:39:36 AM »
I'm personally more worried about agents who are also authors than agents who are also freelance editors (or have another second job). With the author-agents, my worry is that once they become successful enough as authors, they'll switch to writing full time and dump all their clients. With the freelance editor-agents, I actually see an advantage, because they'll be able to help you really clean up your manuscript before you go on sub.

I'm definitely not saying that author-agents are bad and that you shouldn't submit to them. I did query several, but their other career is definitely something I would have brought up before signing if any of them had offered me rep. I guess it's mostly a subjective issue and I would say in most cases, they do know how to balance their jobs.

Offline Odd John

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Re: Agents who are also authors/have side gigs
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2021, 06:04:51 AM »
Author-Agents can't dump their clients without legal repercussions. They've committed to a contract with each writer. Let's say the duration is one year. Once that year is up, either author or agent may refrain from renewing (unless there's an automatic renewal clause).

I can't see any A-A risking multiple lawsuits by this behavior. And he might become a pariah among Agents with whom he'd like to deal with his next book title.

Far too much risk.
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Offline MKWrites_318

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Re: Agents who are also authors/have side gigs
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2021, 09:53:07 AM »
What I learned recently is that a lot of agents have to have side gigs because they work on commission and don't make enough to agent full time. And for many, the agenting itself is the side hustle, technically. I don't think you're overthinking it, but I wouldn't rule anyone out based on the other jobs they have/do. I would just make sure that you ask, in the event of a call, about the agents communication style, how often they check in with writers, how long it takes them to get back, all that stuff. And definitely ask for the opportunity speak to a couple current and former clients so that you can hear how those who've worked with that agent feel about them.

And littlewritings, I think about agents who might suddenly up and leave the business too. Author-agents don't really concern me in that way, but they do worry a lot of people. In my list of questions for The Call, I included "What happens to me and my book if you suddenly retire or for some other reason have to stop agenting?" It's a depressing topic, but I want to know about the plans for the worst case scenarios long before they happen. And I know they happen because one of the agents I queried in November quit agenting like a month after I sent my query letter. And another agent was recently fired from an agency. Like stuff happens, it's wise to be cognizant of that.

Offline littlewritings

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Re: Agents who are also authors/have side gigs
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2021, 10:53:40 AM »
Odd John, maybe you're more familiar with agency agreements than I am, but as far as I'm aware most agreements include a clause that will let the author or the agent terminate the agreement with 30 days notice. (Or, occasionally, the contract will run for 1 or 2 years and then the 30 day clause will kick in.) At least that was the case in the agreements that I have personally seen. I didn't mean that agents will dump their clients from one day to the next and I apologize if that's what it sounded like, I meant that they'll terminate the agreement as soon as possible (so with 30 days notice or whatever the agreement says). But, like I said, it's just something I'm personally worried about and it doesn't mean that those agents are bad agents.

And, yeah, MKWrites_318, agents sever ties with clients all the time and agents leave the business all the time as well. Those agreements get terminated. Definitely an important thing to know what happens if the agent decides to quit for whatever reason.

Offline raktinope

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Re: Agents who are also authors/have side gigs
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2021, 02:39:19 PM »
Thanks for the insight everyone. Glad to know I'm not the only one thinking about this topic.

Offline Viddiest

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Re: Agents who are also authors/have side gigs
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2021, 10:43:19 PM »
Frankly, when I saw how many agents are wannabe authors, I wondered if I had it in me to become an agent myself. Short answer- No.

Given how much time it takes to write, I do wonder how these author-agents ever find the time to read our work.


Offline jonny_555

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Re: Agents who are also authors/have side gigs
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2021, 01:58:24 AM »
I wouldn't be suprised if almost every single agent has tried writing a book/written a book at least once in their lives, or is currently writing one. Some may not be as open to the social media world about it as others.

But as far as paying the bills go, I am sure the agents would focus first on their day job/finding clients/supporting clients before sitting down at the desk to add some daily word count to their WIP.

Personally, I would prefer an agent who is not an author (same concerns as you raktinope).

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Offline Tabris

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Re: Agents who are also authors/have side gigs
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2021, 06:09:38 AM »
Author-Agents can't dump their clients without legal repercussions. They've committed to a contract with each writer.

They don't dump you. They just don't work on you. Then they kind of let your manuscript rot away on the back burner, and whenever you ask what's going on or why they haven't gotten to you, suddenly you're the impatient author and they're very busy.

You can't sue for that. You can't really even prove they're ghosting you, and if you speak up, who are people going to believe? The unpublished/uncontracted writer, or the agent to tweets out to her thousands of adoring followers, "Do NOT be that writer who always demands a hundred percent of your agent's time! I've got a whole stable full of writers who need me, and contracts are time-sensitive. Please believe me that I'm doing my best."

Offline kciswriting

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Re: Agents who are also authors/have side gigs
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2021, 09:09:43 AM »
I think it depends on the particular agent. One of the top-tier agents, Donald Maass, writes non-fiction about writing craft, but he still takes on new clients and sell to Big 5 all the time. Then, there is an author-agent I heard hasn't sold a single title other than her own (I won't name her)