Day #29 – The Agent/Author Communication Process

 By Dawn Frederick

Communication styles, they play an important role in one’s personal and professional lives. There are three types: aggressive, passive, and assertive. Without going into all the definitions, I’m going to look at the agent/author relationship. Communication plays an important role between writers and agents, as you’ll see below.

1. Seeking an agent – It’s essential one assumes a professional manner.  Not only does one need to follow submission guidelines for any agent, there’s also the need to be able to query and ask questions without drama.

  • The Aggressive Approach – demanding an immediate response, accusing the agent of not giving the book a chance, calling the office repeatedly to check on the query status, and going as far to show up at the agent’s office or home to drop off a query (or even worse, to react to a rejection).  Hands down, this will never work.
  • The Passive Approach – not sending out the query letter (for fear of rejection), ceasing the query process after receiving any rejection letter, and taking the rejection personally.  This isn’t going to help any writer, let alone one’s writing career.
  • The Assertive Approach – being strategic during the query process and selecting agents who are a good match for the book, looking at rejections and seeing what one can do to improve the idea or platform (if needed), seeing the query process as a challenge worth doing, and taking the necessary steps to improve one’s network and outreach within the publishing community.  In short, making yourself known, present, hard-to-ignore; without being egotistical.

2. After finding an agent – Now is the time to band together, to work collaboratively in helping the book get published.

  • The Aggressive Approach – demanding all of the agent’s time (when the agent has other clients), trying to “tell” the agent how to do his/her job, assuming that the agent is your employee, and  generally showing any type of diva behavior. This is the best way to lose an agent.
  • The Passive Approach – not keeping in touch with the agent, taking the editor rejections personally, showing hesitancy to participate in the editing process, and even going as far to miss deadlines (that are mutually agreed upon). Trust me that no agent wants to make an “Are you alive?” call to a client.  It’ll be done, but if one is the recipient of such a message, it’s time to change communication styles.
  • The Assertive Approach – asking the agent what “can I do?” on a regular basis, actively working to improve one’s idea and being a constant promoter of one’s writing career, keeping a positive attitude when rejections are received, and always on the lookout for ways to expand one’s reach to readers and publishing types.

3. After the book is published – Congratulations! Now it’s time to hunker down with that agent and execute a thorough marketing plan (in addition to the one provided by the publisher)

  • The Aggressive Approach – being overly egotistical with readers and reviewers regarding the new book, the flipside is being unwilling to participate in the promotion, not being polite or professional with the individuals who work with books (booksellers, publicists, media, etc.) Basically acting like an ass and unconcerned with how one treats others.
  • The Passive Approach – being quiet about the book’s release, taking negative reviews personally, not reaching out to readers (in person or via social media), not working with the agent on helping increase the sales #s of the book.  Just because a person writes a book doesn’t mean lots of people will read it.  Reach out to readers and plan on investing 2-3 years time doing it.
  • The Assertive Approach – working with the agent as early as four months before publication (in determining a plan to build a buzz), being available to interact with readers in person and via social media, finding opportunities to reach readers, and more.  It takes two to tango, yes?  It’ll take both the author and agent working on an agreed tactic to support the book’s success, as well as the author’s long-term writing career.


Have you fallen into the trap of being overly aggressive, or passive?  What did you do to remedy the situation?