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How much contact should I expect to have with my literary agent (from a sizeable London firm, representing my first novel)? Are months of silence to be expected/endured? If so...how many?

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This question is fairly vague. Have you attempted to contact your agent and heard nothing back? Or has there just been a period of time that you haven't heard anything from them? –  Ralph Gallagher Aug 23 '11 at 13:23
    
Hiya Ralph, I usually try to find an excuse to contact her (the agent) about once every three or four months, usually just to touch base and just to know she hasn't forgotten me. And, to be fair, she always replies right away, she just never ever writes/calls/contacts me first. –  Lumi Aug 23 '11 at 14:22
    
(Also, it's definitely a reputation agency, that's not, thankfully, a concern.) –  Lumi Aug 23 '11 at 14:24
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I wasn't going to post an answer for this, but I've got to disagree with Joshin.

You're in a business relationship with your agent. You're entitled to respectful business communication. There's a vast difference between you needing your hand held and you needing to know what your business partner is up to.

Months of silence seem out of line. That is, if you've sent a polite, business-like inquiry, you should have been answered. If you've been nagging him/her daily, then maybe s/he has shut down. But you haven't said anything to suggest that.

Rather than Joshin's manufacturer/salesperson analogy, I would try home owner/real estate agent. (You notice the word 'agent' - it has significance). If you allow someone else to try to sell your valuable, unique property, you are entitled to regular updates as to their progress. If you've been reasonable, and they refuse to share this information with you, there's a serious problem with the relationship.

There are a lot of great agents out there, and there are, unfortunately, a lot of rookies and/or shysters. If you have absolute confidence (through checking at Editors & Preditors and other relevant sites) that you've got a great agent, you might want to forgive the poor communication. But if you're less than confident, you need communication to know what's going on.

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It's also going to depend on if the agent has anything to report back. They're most likely not going to send you an email after every rejection, or to tell you editors are still reviewing your piece. –  Ralph Gallagher Aug 23 '11 at 2:52
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But if the client asks for an update, she shouldn't have to wait several months to get it. A brief 'nothing to report' e-mail takes one minute of the agent's time. –  Kate Sherwood Aug 23 '11 at 3:05
    
If I may be curious: Why weren't you going to post an answer? –  John Smithers Aug 23 '11 at 12:50
    
Oh... I just felt like I'd been kind of a question-hog lately. And I've only had one agent in my lifetime, so I'm not a huge expert on the topic. –  Kate Sherwood Aug 23 '11 at 13:10
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Hey! What's wrong with the fifth time?!? Go back and re-read my answers! Maybe you just didn't understand... ;) –  Kate Sherwood Aug 23 '11 at 16:14
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If you are really good they'll be happy if you just send them a check on a regular basis.

Think of a clerk in a store. Their job is to make sure that when a buyer comes into the store they find what they need. Rarely (if ever) do they contact the guy in China who is making the tools.

If you are making tools in China you want the clerk to sell them in the US of A.

If you need hand-holding use part of your royalties to hire someone with hands you like.

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Mine is one of the downvotes. I felt this answer made little sense. They'd certainly need to know you're, oh, I don't know, still writing and finishing projects? –  Neil Fein Aug 24 '11 at 4:02
    
Unfortunately, these days most agents are not so much advocates as sales people. They are interested in making money for their bottom line- that means they are looking at new clients and contacting people who might buy the work. After all they are sales. So they are less inclined to proactively contact those they represent unless the "author" has contacted them. At least according to my friends who have agents. BTW, agents too fear the e-pub wave because their pay checks will be cut if folks go that route. One friend knows of two agents who are "retiring" because of e-pub. –  Joshin Aug 29 '11 at 20:18
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