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Getting to Know Agents

I came across a nice audio interview of Donald Maass by Author Magazine. Donald happens to be my agent, and I think he’s terrific. The web offers lots of opportunities for aspiring writers to look over their choices for agents. Sometimes  you get an immediate feeling that yes, this could work–or yikes, I’d never be comfortable with that agent!

Interviews are one window on that all-important potential relationship between you and an agent.

I’ve been with Don Maass for twelve years. During that time we’ve had prosperous times and lean, smooth sailing and choppy waters. But I’ve always felt that he was an asset to my career, and I think he continues to believe in my work. A business relationship doesn’t last that long without a good mix of styles and personalities.

Don is a hands-on agent, who gives strong input to stories, both at the concept level and in the execution. If you think an agent’s role is to take what you write at face value and sell the bloody thing, then a different sort of agent is for you. For a close working relationship (editorial-wise) to work, you and your agent must be on the same page, so to speak, about fiction. I think one reason why I value Don’s input is that he’s written novels, and speaks so well the writer’s language. But you want to be sure that you and your agent share an approach to fiction; that you share goals for your career. It might be hard to figure this part out in advance.

That’s why it’s helpful to listen to interviews, meet agents in person at conferences, and check around with your published friends.

This relationship can last longer than some marriages.


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