Every few months, I try to digest the things various clients have done that I wish they hadn’t. I know many of our readers who, of course, are writers themselves and are seeking agents and editors, are interested in learning the etiquette of our business, so I thought I would throw out several things that tend to make us agents weepy or ragey:
When you make an appointment with your agent or your editor you should show up; more than once in recent weeks people who have confirmed appointments with us have not shown up and not called to say they weren’t coming (sometimes it was because the writer overslept or simply forgot).
Asking your agent to do all kinds of extra work for you and then saying you are going to use your lawyer to negotiate that particular movie or magazine contract.
Delivering a manuscript you haven’t previously checked carefully and thoroughly.
Being late with the delivery of your manuscript (sometimes way late) and assuming that your Publisher will grant you endless extensions.
Sending rude notes to your editor rather than first speaking to me so that I can run interference.
Finding everything that your editor throws out in terms of title, cover and copy wrong and not saying one positive thing. (It isn’t smart to alienate your editor and your publisher especially before your book is published.)
Insisting that I submit your proposal to teeny tiny publishers and then being disappointed when the advance is almost non-existent.
Having unrealistic expectations in terms of the deal you are looking for and not sharing those expectations with me at the outset (so that I can clarify what is and isn’t possible).
Listening to the opinions of all of your friends and colleagues (many of whom are at odds about strategy and everything else).
Lying to me. If there is one thing I have zero tolerance for it is not telling the truth (unless you really, really don’t like my new shoes; I don’t need to know that). This only happens once in any business relationship I have.
Needless to say, I don’t believe everything I have to say as an agent is correct but the bottom line is that I am here to provide advice and support and become frustrated when I am not used productively.
I wonder what your pet peeves are? I am sure you have them and would be interested to hear.