Often time writers view agents as the intermediary point between writing and publication . . . the doorman between us and the publishing house. They are responsible for tweaking our manuscripts, matching us with the prefect acquiring editors, and negotiating our contracts. But those tasks don’t even begin to scratch the surface of what a great agent really does. They are our perpetual cheerleaders, the ones to guide us through the murky waters of publishing, and listen to then assuage all of those writing fears that never seem to go away, even after you are agented and/or published.
Just this week I found myself weighing the options between three books, two my agent has read and one she knows is coming down the pike. I got revisions, and a synopsis, and plot demons to work out for each one. Needless to say, I found myself a tad bit overwhelmed with the personal deadlines I’d set for myself. To put it mildly, I was a little panicked when I talked to her, wondering exactly what I had gotten myself into. She didn’t tell me what to do and when to do it. She didn’t remind me of my personal deadlines or instruct me to focus on one before the other. In true Jessica form, she calmed me down with a simple yet profound statement: “We’ll figure it out.”
And that is what a really great agent does -- talks us down of our mental ledge when we feel so overwhelmed that the words stop flowing. They are that calm, rational force that reminds us to take step back and think things through. So when it comes time for you to choose your agent, have a conversation with them, ask questions . . . not just about what they have sold, but about who they are and how involved they want to be. Because at the end of the day, they do so much more than simply open publishing world doors.