Most of us know why it's good to have an agent around. They negotiate contracts, they have access to the editors, they sort through all the chaos that goes into having a book deal. But agents truly go above and beyond the call of duty here. Unlike most people who have day jobs, these people don't just clock out and go home. They take it with them. All the time. What else do they do, you ask, that make them so amazing?
1. They make the effort to appear sane.
Contrary to popular belief, agents are humans, too. They get discouraged, they get nervous, and they get frustrated just like the rest of us. But unlike the rest of us, these unearthly beings don't show it. At least, mine never has. They make the effort to always be certain in the decisions and events taking place. They are ready to reassure and reassess. Tons of rejections? They'll be unfazed and make the choice between a new round or a new revision. Can't get the numbers you want on a contract? Agents will do the best the can with what they've got.
2. They always tell the truth.
Seriously. Think about it. All those rejections, all those revision notes. They don't hold back. Yes, usually they're kind and encouraging. But ultimately, if a story needs work or something needs to be changed, we will be informed of it. Agents speak truth as easily as I eat cheese. It's so hard to see these truths when us writers are so close to our work, so ecstatically convinced it's amazing or dejectedly believing it's nothing but crap. Ask an agent a question, and you'll get the true answer. Maybe not the one you want, but that's the beauty of it.
3. They deal with e-mails from crazy clients.
I'm not proud to admit this, but we all know how insecure writers can get. Once in a while I'll send random e-mails to my poor agent without trying to stop myself, all frenzied and desperate and truly cringe-worthy. Basically they run along these lines: "Tell me I don't suck." My no-nonsense agent sets me straight pretty quickly. So... yes. She deserves that 15%. And if I'm going to be honest, she really deserves way more than that.
Have you told your agent lately how awesome they are?