Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Day in the Life of an Agent: Goldfish Edition

Authors — particularly aspiring authors — often ask what is a day in the life of an agent like? Some are just curious, others want to know what the hell is taking so long and why isn’t this tool answering my query!

Truth is if I made answering queries my business that would be my ENTIRE business. Most agents — I know I do — receive hundreds and hundreds, maybe thousands, of queries a week. It’s hard to imagine, but it’s true. There are a little over 20,000 unopened emails in my inboxes right now. Most, if not all, are queries from aspiring authors. These are on top of email from clients, editors, and conference coordinators.
Now here’s the real hard truth: answering queries isn’t my business. My business is serving my current list of clients. Their needs come before any query. Point. Blank. As a relatively new agent my list is growing. At this moment there are about 23 authors in my “stable”. Those are 23 people I have sworn to work with, guide, and advocate for. Sure, I don’t speak to all of them all the time. Some go for months without us speaking. Why? Because there’s nothing to talk about. They’re writing. I’m waiting for new material. Or we’re both waiting on responses from editors. Those 23 people are my priority. And just as some I don’t speak with for some time, others I speak with frequently.  Some authors need more guidance than others. Some need to bounce ideas back and forth, or question the market, or discuss contracts, or any of the innumerable issues that arise in any business.
Enough jibber jabber.
I love my job. The best damn job in the entire multiverse. In general, I wake up whenever I want.

Usually no later than 8:30 AM.
Check emails.
Check emails.
Oh, there’s that contract I’ve been waiting on for that big six-figure deal. YAY!
Respond to said emails. Usually they’re from editors or clients. In the case of said mega-contract, I’ll spend a while reading it and then let Client know we’ve received the contract. Of course that’s one of half-a-dozen emails in the AM alone. More will come in along the day.
Then there’s emails from clients with new material they want an opinion on ASAP before they write further. So, I do A LOT of reading. A lot. Obviously.
Don’t forget part of my job is to connect and maintain relationships with editors. So, throughout the day I exchange emails or tweets or Facebookings (is that a word?) with editors. Same with agents. We all have a burning love for books. We all love to geek out. Star Trek. Star Wars. IS Kylo Ren Luke Skywalker?????
I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t, but I think he is. Wink. Wink.
While doing all this I am also maintaining my social media and The Seymour Agency’s social media. I do a lot at once which helps keep my goldfish-like attention span always active. As you can tell since this post probably seems rather rambling.
Don’t forget rejections — and hopefully offers! — are rolling in all day, so I’m always checking my email. Always. Much to the chagrin of a significant other, etc. I do my best reading at night, after 5 PM, because many editors shut down for the day. After all, everyone needs family time.
This does not mean editors or agents aren’t working during after work hours. They most definitely are. Edits. Reading. Both manuscripts and contracts.
If this feels like too much of a ramble to understand, leave some comments and I’ll try to clarify. But, as you can imagine, this is what a day in the life of an agent is like.
Ramble over.
Have a great day and don’t forget to WRITE ON!

Lane Heymont is an associate agent at The Seymour Agency, representing science fiction, fantasy, romance, nonfiction, and attempts to write his own stuff under a wonderful pseudonym. You can follow him on Twitter at @LaneHeymont. 


  1. You just made me feel sooooooo much better. Not that you have a ton of work....but that with all the queries that agents get, the fact that agents are responding to my queries, whether in the positive or negative, makes me feel significant! I know, it is a warped way to look at things, but knowing your work load, if I have gotten someone to respond to my query just tells me that I have something that stood out and was worth reading. But in all seriousness, I love when I find out more about an agent's life, It does make you more human rather than just a person sitting at his/her desk stamping 'rejection' on everything. You should know that we writers do appreciate your time to looking at our work! It is rare when you hear that someone loves what they do. Good for you for finding a passion in life that makes it worth getting up in the morning. Keep you blogs coming...enjoy your tweets as well. You have a refreshing voice!

  2. What a great reality-check (and assurance!) for writers! " My business is serving my current list of clients. Their needs come before any query. Point. Blank." Yes, querying authors are anxious to hear back from the agents they are reaching out to, hoping for that offer of representation. But of course, agents should be putting their existing clients first. Great to see the dedication agents extend to their many clients--and insightful to see the busy life an agent faces every day.

    Good think all of us in this industry like books, right?

    --Sam Taylor, AYAP Team

  3. How could I become an agent?
    My undergrad degree was in neuroscience, and now I'm a technical writer.
    Any advice?