The author/agent ratio

How agents spend their working day is a bit confusing for many authors. There is the impression that we read all day long, when in fact the reading we do is on the weekends and evenings. What we do during the week involved managing submissions for new work and managing relationships between editors, and clients who have deals in place including contract negotiation.

The reality is that our days are busy, time sensitive, and based on priority. (For more on what we do see this post on agent skills and the typical day of an agent.) You are one client to an agent with many clients that have varying needs. In many authors’ minds the ratio is 1:1 and you are always on your agents’ agenda. In reality, we manage many clients and it’s unrealistic to assume that.

However, we’ll always be there when you need us (see priority above), we’ll always be there to manage issues and problems that come up, but our other clients might be having issues that need problem solving as well so we do a balancing act of all this, plus doing deals. 

As an aspiring author know that this is an expectation to be managed, for agented authors this is a reminder to respect your agent’s time.

It is a very precarious balance that depends on an agent’s organization, negotiation and problem solving skills. Remember that our time is the biggest gift we give you because we do it with blind faith in your work and talents.

Image via Priscilla Nielson NPR

Published by Carly Watters

Carly Watters is a SVP, senior literary agent and director of literary branding with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial and upmarket fiction, select literary fiction, platform-driven non fiction and select memoir. She occasionally represents children's book projects. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

5 thoughts on “The author/agent ratio

  1. Hi Carly. Another good and useful post – thank you. It made me wonder how and why one becomes an agent, especially in contrast to being a writer. (I suppose that reveals my writer’s bias … I can’t imagine having the knowledge and skills that allow one to be a writer, yet choosing to be an agent instead.) Once the decision is made, how does an agent become respected by the publishers that she wants to channel her client’s work toward? At first, isn’t an agent just as unknown as the wanna-be author? How do those connections develop?

    Perhaps you’ve already written about this – can you direct me to a past post on the topic?


    1. That’s a good question.

      Here’s a post on the answer about how agents get into the business.

      Hope that helps!

      And in terms of getting known by editors. Agents use the connections within their agency to start out. But I firmly believe that the work stands for itself. If we send quality work to an editor they’ll remember that and that’s how agents become known.


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