The Precarious Writer-Agent Relationship & How to Survive It

Over the years TVWriter™ has been online – just a few months shy of 20! – the most popular question by far has been, “How do I get an agent?” The idea behind that question seems to be that once a writer has representation the dark days will be gone and writing life will be all sun and smiles.

Our short retort to that concept is, “Not so!” But for those who want to fully wrap their minds around the reality of the situation, we present the following post. It’s about writing for print, but we guarantee you – if you’re writing for TV or films it works exactly the same way:

How I Got an Agent, Lost that Agent, and Found a New One (Without Losing My Mind)
by Lydia Lukidis

Like many of you, I’ve been knee deep in the querying trenches, desperately trying to make my submission stand out in the staggering slush pile. And as we all know, this process is time consuming. It goes on and on, peppered with rejection letters, until we finally get a bite.

I signed with my first agent a few weeks after I got my first bite. In my mind, my problems were now over. Yahoo! No more submissions! No more Twitter pitch parties! No more querying! I was already visualizing a book contract with the Big Five.

But that’s not how the cookie crumbled.

Here are 3 truths nobody tells you about landing an agent:

1. It can be anti-climactic: Don’t expect a book deal the next day, week or month.
2. You will still need patience: The submission process is laborious, no matter who’s doing the submitting.
3. You will still get rejected: The difference is that now, the rejections get sent to your agent.

These were sobering lessons for me. That said, getting an agent was a step in the right direction. I was ecstatic my manuscripts were now floating into the hands of reputable publishers.

My agent submitted four picture books over the course of the next year. I waited. And I waited. It was rejection after rejection, or no answer at all. I knew there was no set timeline on when that first contract would materialize. It’s always a gamble. I told myself I would give my agent a year and then re-assess.

BUT- early on, I began to have my doubts. I foolishly cast those doubts aside and remained in denial for months. I continued to feel my agent and I were not so aligned nor did we communicate the same way. I ended up waiting a year and a half.

I have no regrets. But my advice is this: TRUST YOUR GUT. If you feel something is askew, I suggest communicating this to your agent clearly. See if things change. If things don’t improve, you may need to re-evaluate….

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