Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Author Rachel Hauck on the Agent/Author Relationship Part 1

Author Rachel Hauck was kind enough to offer some advice about finding and working with literary agents. Thank you so much Rachel!

Here she is:



I wasn’t looking for an agent when an author and friend called after reading the opening chapter of my first chick lit. Enthusiastic, (don’t you love those calls?) she suggested I submit the work to her agent. After learning of the agent’s reputation and client list, I whole heartily agreed.
Up to this point, I wasn’t confident I was ready for an agent. I had one Heartsong published and wasn’t working on anything bigger, like a trade book. Then I started writing a chick lit in late ‘03.
There’s a tendency to get in a hurry. Seeing other authors pick up agents, sell trade books out of the gate, win awards. “What, am I wood? Am I standing still?” you may ask yourself.
Don’t be in a hurry.
My prayer has always been and remains, “Lord, You’re my editor, agent and promoter.”
I signed with my first agent in early ‘04. She really challenged me to go deeper in my writing and to keep reading and studying.
I sold my first chick lit six months later. I sold another one a year later. In between I wrote two more Heartsongs. I was on a roll.
Yet, by mid 2007, I felt I was losing some momentum. I knew I needed help on how to increase my brand and visibility. Speaking? Writing articles? Joining forces with… someone?
I began to pray about what to do, willing for God to end my writing season, when I came across an agency that seemed to be keen on marketing and branding.
Maybe that’s what I needed? Could they help with ideas, partnerships, other avenues of promotion? I prayed. Tried not to decide based on worry or jealousy of authors finding more success than me. Tried not to “force” something to happen.
In the meantime, God opened a door for me to write with country artist Sara Evans. And I changed agents. Closed my eyes, breathed in faith and jumped.
It was an interesting season. But a short one.
Through a series of interesting and fun events, the Lord led me to my next (and final) agent, Chip MacGregor.
I never set out to have more than one agent. I never wanted to agent shop or get disgruntled and change for change sake. An agent/client relationship is a living, breathing thing that must be maintained and treated like all relationships: with good communication.

Me: How are you with communication? Do you prefer to write e-mails or talk on the phone? What kind of communication would you prefer to engage in with your future agent?

35 comments:

Gwen Stewart said...

What a wonderful post, Rachel and Jessica! I love hearing how authors have navigated their journeys and most of all, how they're surrendered them to the Lord. Beautiful and inspiring!

God bless you both.

Tamika: said...

Thank you Rachel and Jessica! Hearing about having to sign with more than one agent was an eye opener for me. I love the prayer you include as God the editor! I'm going to have to steal that.

Jody Hedlund said...

I love hearing agent stories! It just shows that there really isn't one "right" way to go about getting the right agent. And I appreciated hearing that we have different seasons, even after we're published. Thank you for sharing!

Jessica said...

Gwen, thanks for stopping by. I'm thankful Rachel shared her journey too. :-)

Tamika, that is a pretty cool prayer. I sure hadn't thought about God like that.

Jessica said...

Jody, that was interesting about the seasons, right? Rachel brings up a lot of stuff that I just haven't thought too hard about.

sherrinda said...

I'm always surprised by all the different stories about agents, publishers, etc. There are so many unique paths and I love reading about them!

Jessica said...

Me too Sherrinda! It gives me so much hope too, because the path can be surprising and I never know when it'll change from unagented to agented, from unpubbed to pubbed, from first book to bestseller... LOL Okay, a bit of daydreaming there. Hehee!

Irritable Mother said...

Funny, I much prefer email because I can do it whenever, and the other person is not required to be present. But I have gotten away from the phone so much that phone calls seem to be more special to me. Like - I'm actually TALKING to you - how cool is that? *grin*

anita said...

"What kind of communication would you prefer to engage in with your future agent?"

Any form at all. I just want it to be consistent--from both sides. Grrr.

Great post, Jessie! Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your experience. :-)

Kristen Painter said...

Hey Rachel! Good advice - communication is key. And I'm not just saying that because we're chaptermates.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

I like both. I've found I click phone talking with some and not with others. Writing communication comes most naturally to me.

What a great way to show how God navigates the course. I've heard only wonderful things about The MacGregor Agency.

Thanks for sharing, Rachel and Jessica.

Jessica, I tagged you and gave you an award on my blog today.
~ Wendy

Linda Kage said...

Thank you for the great advice. It makes sense; I've never heard of any kind of relationship that doesn't have some form of communication.

Jessica said...

Thanks Wendy! I'll head over later. :-)

Kristen, I forget that we all live in Florida! LOL Cool that you know Rachel.

Anita, consistency would be nice, right? LOL

Karen, I prefer e-mail too, so you're right, talking on the phone becomes more special. :-)

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Great post, Rachel and Jessica. I immagine I'd be an email type until I got to know the agent rather well. I'm just shy like that. LOL

What about you, Jessica?

Janna Qualman said...

Excellent post! Thank you both.

I generally prefer (by a landslide) e-mail communication. But my best friend, and a few others, get the best of me through phone calls. And I'd like to think a future agent of mine and I would have the kind of relationship that led to my comfort over the phone. I think that'd be crucial!

Tabitha Bird said...

Thanks for the advise Rachel and the post Jessica.

Communication is something I feel really strongly about. Aren't all good relationships built on the ability to talk things over? great points Rachel.

Jessica said...

Eileen, I'd be the same. You heard me talk in person. Blabbering, nervous, LOL! I don't know when to stop. E-mail is definitely better, plus it saves my foot from going in my mouth. :-)

Erica Vetsch said...

It's so good to read other stories and realize that changing agents is a business decision, and you're not a personal failure if you don't stay with the one you started with.

Thanks Rachel and Jessica!

Patti said...

I think I like email communication at first, but you don't really get to know someone until you talk to them on the phone or face to face.

Rachel Hauck said...

Wow, some of you get up really early!! Thanks so much for the post, Jessica.

My first agent I engaged with via email, then I had a chance to meet her in person.

Same with agent two.

Chip I've known for awhile and we were friends of sorts. ;) I knew him, knew of him, watched him and knew we'd work well together.

Rachel

Jennifer Shirk said...

I love hearing these kind of stories and how important an agent realtionship is. :)

I'm an e-mail or text kind of person--unless I really want thoughts and perspectives then I need to do a phone call.

Jessica said...

Thanks for stopping by Rachel, and for giving us some great stuff to think about. :-)

Erica, it is nice to know. I think maybe we forget about that business aspect sometimes, but it really is about a career and our choices can make us or breaks.(sorry about the cliche) LOL

It's cool to know most of you are e-mailers. I guess that's why we're all active in the blogosphere. LOL!

destrella said...

I prefer in person, then the phone, then e-mails. Old fashioned that way I guess. :O)

Warren Baldwin said...

The phone. In personal conversation you can explain something further the agent (or anyone) may not understand. With an email they can too easily 'delete' the conversation.

Patti Lacy said...

Thank you, Rachel and Jessica.
Whew, Rachel, glad to hear someone else has agent hopped a bit.

As far as my communication preference, it's on the phone all the way!! It's the tone, the nuances, that matter to me. I also like to talk things out rather than just slam things down in an e-mail.

There's just something about a voice on the other end...

So far my dream agent, Natasha, has been fabulous for BOTH versions of communication.

LOVE this blog!!!
Patti
www.pattilacy.com/blog

Jessica said...

Patti, I didn't know you have Natasha as your agent. I saw and heard her at the conference and was really impressed. Go you! :-)

Warren, good point about deleting the conversation. I hadn't thought of it like that.

Diane, you're fine. :-) My hubby isn't old-fashioned at all but he prefers the phone always.

Angie Muresan said...

I love your blog and this post, Jessica. So much information!! And I prefer email just because I am running around like crazy half the day.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I loved this post! My favorite part: “Lord, You’re my editor, agent and promoter.”

I can communicate comfortably by email or by phone (or blog), but I don't Twitter and I haven't figured out a way to love Facebook yet. :)

ElanaJ said...

Ah, the last sentence is so true. I like to email with questions and quick things. I like to talk on the phone with things that take longer. That are more important. That require a living, breathing human in the conversation at the same time I am.

I've spoken with my agent five times over the course of two months. I don't know if that's a lot or not. But it feels good to me.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

I like the idea of written communication that I can re-visit as needed. However, I also see the advantage of a give and take phone conversation where there's less room for misunderstanding.

The most important factor is developing a relationship based on trust. I don't want an agent pushing their agenda, but taking into consideration my interests and skill level.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

This is awesome, Jessica and Rachel! Thank you so much for the great advice! It feels so good to know that I shouldn't be in a hurry, that God's timing is the best.

Katie Ganshert said...

Great stuff!! Thanks for this. I like emails the best. Talking on the phone is good, but sometimes it's ard to connect.

Jessica said...

I agree, Katie.

So true, Kristen. Sometimes I catch myself rushing, and then I'm like, why?

Susan, you're right. Communication is no good if there's no trust.

T. Anne said...

Thank you, I really needed to hear this, This is a great argument why just any agent won't do. I shared about my disaster of a relationship before and I pray the Lord has an outstanding agent who doesn't mind communicating with her/his client once in a while.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Jessica and Rachel: Thank you both for this helpful post. Although I am agented, I still consider myself a newbie in the writing circus, and need all the help I can gather to learn the best way of staying on the trapeze!

I prefer emails to phone calls, but sometimes you need to hear the tender tone of a voice for reasurrance.

Bless you both,
Jen
Audience of ONE