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We’re all really on the same team

This last week, I found myself in a really heated conversation with a publisher about one of my clients.  I called him to see whether they were going to act on my suggestion to help pump up the sales of her book and he jumped down my throat for what he said were all of my complaints about their not trying hard enough to make this title a huge bestseller.

When I pointed out that, in fact, I don’t work for him but for my client and that as her advocate it is my obligation to put forth as many ideas as I can on her behalf, he understood better where I was coming from.  It is true that publishers often forget that the agent is working for the author and not against the publisher.

We talked about the various ideas I had offered and why he felt some might not work, and I understood better where he was coming from.  He also admitted that his “heated tone” was coming from a place of utter frustration at not being able to achieve the sales that he and his colleagues had been hoping for.

In the end, we both realized that we are on the same team and working for the same goals – to build this author’s career.  Later in the week, when I passed on another suggestion to him, he seemed to accept it from where it was coming from and he promised to address it quickly with his colleagues.

So, the bottom line is that agents, authors, and publishers are all working towards the same end – to increase book sales as efficiently and creatively as possible.

Has this been your experience with the publishing process?

2 Responses to We’re all really on the same team

  1. Paula B. says:

    I’m glad you brought this up, Jane. Sometimes I’ve felt that my publishers haven’t been very communicative or forthcoming, and I have felt that they really don’t value me very much, that I’m just a set of numbers to them. It’s possible that they’re just busy, but because we really are a team, I think it’s important to take some extra time to build the relationship. Seems to me that all business should work that way, if possible. Okay, a bit pie in the sky, but still worth aiming for.

    • It may be a bit pie-in-the-sky, but it definitely seems to be the ideal. I’ve read a lot of things that indicate other authors are feeling this way, too; many authors seem to feel their publishers are working against them, only interested in the money. Really, though, even if there is only a financial motivation, publishers do want books to succeed. Everyone on the team has the same goal, and communicating and cooperating will lead to a better chance of success than fostering us-vs-them mentalities. This is especially true because the fact that authors, agents, and publishers all approach the goal of increasing sales from different perspectives naturally leads to tension when things don’t align perfectly.

      I hope it works out for this client, though! Let’s hope this little breakthrough between agent and publisher sticks and works to everyone’s benefit.

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