ten cents worth in there. Okay, I have to admit that a lifetime's
experience of agents has not been the best proving ground to trust their
abilities. My mother's theatrical agents were, broadly speaking, quite
good. But that was because she ditched the ones who made grandiose
promises and did zilch. By the time I was going to secretarial agencies
I was a committed cynic who heard blah, blah, blah when they started
speaking. First thing to remember, it is in their interests to keep you
on side. You are the cash cow. There in lies the first real problem. A farmer never has just one cow.
He has a whole herd of them. This is true of agents. They don't have
just one author, they have a whole herd of them. So they are not overly
worried about touting your work about. "I have got an agent." is just
the starting point. Once you have got one, you need to keep after them.
Not in a crazy stalker-ish way, but in a "I am not going to be fobbed
off and go quietly into the night" way. Some agents will only work hard
if their backs are to the wall and they are cornered like rats in a
trap. This is a simple fact that has served me well over the years. Frankly, some of them are not up to the job. Being an agent requires the
persistence of a door to door brush salesman and the patience of Job;
but it also requires a deep understanding of markets, reading habits and
literature itself. It pays to keep your ear to the ground. If you just leave everything to
your agent, it may be years before you hear anything at all. My view is,
that you will only get out what you are prepared to put in, an agent is
as potentially hard work as doing it all yourself.