Q and A edition: please know that any grump you detect in my replies to your perfectly valid and excellent questions has been triggered not by you but by [gestures out the window].
Who ISN'T in a terrible mood here at the end of this godforsaken week? Oh, not you, BARBARA? Well, that's just great, you little peppy-ass bit--oh, hi, everyone. TGI Friday lol :)
Thank you to everyone who sent in a question this week; your questions were all so thoughtful. Am keeping them all anonymous here, but you know who you are, and I would like to tell each of you up front that you are both intelligent and toothsome.
Q: What's the ideal agent/client relationship? I recently signed with an agent and am still trying to navigate if I should be the one asking her about freelance opportunities and other possibilities, or if it's considered better to let your agent tell you of opportunities they come across. I don't want to appear too enthusiastic to her or annoy her by taking up too much of her time (imposter syndrome? very possibly!). Can you speak a little bit about the best client/agent relationships you've had, and what the balance has been?
A: YAY — I already answered this question, way back when in the first post I ever wrote for “Glow.” It’s free to all, and you can read it here.
…Wait, no I’m not. I want to add one more thing here. It’s radically honest and unflattering to both of us, but I’m offering it in the spirit of It’s 2022 and We’re All Bankrupt On Fucks.
Ok. What you need to understand is that many of us agents were pulled down our career path by deeply ingrained Helper Monkey tendencies. Inside and out of work, we really want to delight the people we care about.
In other words, we struggle—seriously, we; I have talked with many other agents about this over the years—with codependency. And if we let our guard down, a certain kind of reassurance-seeking behavior from other adults can trigger us to obsess and overfunction on their behalf.
If the reassurance-seeking behavior in question is frequent, repetitive, or sustained, and nothing we do or say seems to “fix” it for long—duh, it never does—we inevitably become resentful and burn out.
Asking your agent whether they help clients handle freelance stuff is ABSOLUTELY NOT A PROBLEM. That is a normal, appropriate, and professional question.
Here’s what isn’t: asking them a question like the “aside” in the email you sent me: “Imposter syndrome? Very possibly”
[“LOL. No, wait, seriously, can you reassure me that having needs is okay?”]
In the long term, if your agent is like me—and just so the rest of you know, this person’s agent is not me!—such reassurance-seeking will do to their capacity to serve you what a tiny nail does when it gets lodged in a car tire. Unless they’ve done the years of work necessary to learn how to reinforce and repair their tires, things are going to end in a flat. Or, rarely: a tire explosion.
Ask for what you need. Ask for it without drama. Decide whether or not the answer works for you, then conduct your life and relationships accordingly, including if necessary by ending them.
Be the final authority on yourself. Please.
Q: I've read your very thorough guide to foreign rights and was wondering what the usual vibe/timing is for trying to sell rights outside of the US and the UK? My novel has sold in the US (North American rights only) and is on sub in the UK. I haven't heard anything about my agency trying to sell foreign rights anywhere else in the world and am wondering if it's normal to do so only if the rights sell in bigger places like the UK? Should I assume my agency will try (or is currently trying) to sell foreign rights elsewhere, or that they might not be submitting my book anywhere outside the UK at all?