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Author: Working with an agent

Video transcript

I'd say most writers that I know have an agent of some sort and the agent is the sort of your interface with the publishing universe the agent is the person who goes to the publisher and says I have this book my clients has written this book it's fantastic you should publish it here's why I think you should publish it here's how much money I think you should give us give for it and this is the part where I'm not entirely hazy because I'm not often in the room for those conversations this is actually really good thing in my experience if you are working with a publisher as a writer one important thing for you it's important that you as a writer have a good working relationship with your publisher because there's a lot of stuff that your publisher does that you can't see and that you don't have a great deal of control over if everyone in the house thinks that you're a horrible person or thinks that you're really hard to get along with then it's going to be you're you're not going to get certain opportunities that might otherwise come your way huge sales can even this out somebody who sells really well can be a little bit more of a jerk if they want to be which I mean don't be a jerk that's that's bad practice generally but nevertheless but especially if you're operating as a mid list author it's important to have your be on good terms with your publisher if you can get away with it this doesn't mean let anybody walk all over you but it does mean that it's very helpful to have someone who's professionally the bad guy in the relationship have someone whose job is to really fight for your interests as opposed to collaborate with the publisher to make the best book that you possibly can which is often the writers relationship with the publisher so the agent is the person who can have a sharp hard conversation with the publisher about how much money a particular book is worth or whether we're going to give them these rights or those rights or what we're going to do next and the publisher understands that that's the agents role the agent understands that the publisher has their own role in their own interests in this it's a very clear professional distinction it's not universally adversarial a lot of agents are friends with a lot of publishers everybody goes to dinner at the end of the day but the job involves a little bit of friction and it's really nice to be able to offload that responsibility to someone even if you're working very closely in tandem with your agent so you know what their plans are you know what they're doing the agent in exchange for this typically takes home about 15% of whatever you make through deals that the agent negotiates and a good way to think about this as an author is you're basically giving 15% equity in your business to a you know co-founder or part anyway a business partner who's a sort of professional business development person you as the writer then get to be a little bit more of the technical founder a little bit more in the weeds of the creative process and also a little bit more of the charismatic market face and then you have somebody whose job is to make sure that you don't sell in a farm as you're running around and doing this trying to make friends and be a figure in the industry so the agent handles a lot of the negotiation but is never in a good relationship telling you to do things that you don't feel comfortable doing and there's never it's never a one-way street it's always about getting all three parties to agree and ultimately the real authority rests with the author to say yes or no and then there's the publishers authority to offer whatever it is that they want to offer so any those are the two principles and the agent helps negotiate on behalf of the author
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