Friday, February 28, 2014

A Day in the Life of an Agent

Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

All celebrities have agents or managers. Models, athletes, musicians—they all have people who help them negotiate work deals and advise them on what to do next. I do that very thing, except I do it for authors. I’m a Literary Agent.

Because I have such a unique job, many people wonder what it’s like. They assume I spend my days reading or having dinner with bestselling authors. They assume I’m on the phone constantly, telling publishers to “show me the money” and that I probably don’t have a soul due to all of the finessing that I have to do to get my authors the best possible deals.

Fact is, the truth is much less flashy…and for the record, I still have my soul.

My day tends to look like this…

MORNING: Check and respond to email. This means responding to query letters, responding to author or editor questions, etc.

AFTERNOON: This has more variety, but it’s still all in front of a computer. On any given day I will probably accomplish two or three of the following:
-          Send projects: this is the act of approaching editors with book ideas that are ready to go. It’s all done through email, and it can take awhile, as I have to develop my list of editors, write the query, and then send a tailored form of that query to each editor.
-          Make phone calls: this usually includes any author phone calls, potential client phone calls, phone calls to others who work in my agency, and every once in awhile a phone call with a publisher.
-          Do any necessary writing: I contribute to blogs and magazines. I also go through book proposals and make adjustments before getting them ready to send, and sometimes I do some line editing.
-          Handle crisis: Most crisis hit in the afternoon, for whatever reason. A crisis can be as simple as an author telling me that they aren’t going to be able to meet their publisher deadline or it can be as complex as a publishing house closing and an author’s book is caught up in the middle.
-          Keep up on email: Usually my afternoon emails are more proactive instead of reactive. So, I’m following up with editors and authors and just checking in on the state of things overall. Other times, I’m going after celebrities or people I think could write a great book.
-          Complete conference details: The past two years, I attended lots and lots of conferences. This meant I had to get my travel plans in order, submit any necessary materials to each of those conferences, and then create my PowerPoints for my presentations.
-          Read and respond to contracts: When we get an offer from a publisher for a book, then it takes priority. I must read and negotiate the contract, explain it to the author, and continue to work through the process until we have something that I am confident the author should sign.
-          Complete miscellaneous projects that either grow the agency or will make my job easier. For example, I may upload some backlisted titles to Amazon OR I may create a spreadsheet of release dates.

EVENING: Keep keeping up on email.

NIGHT: Read submissions. Yeah, this gets put on the back burner, sadly. And most nights I’m only able to get through a few pages before falling asleep. So if you ever wonder what takes agents so long to get around to reading your manuscript, this is probably the reason.

This probably makes it look like a 24/7 job, and it kind of is. Most agents I know work Saturdays and at the very least check their email and read on Sundays. We also keep an eye on things in the evenings in case anything comes up that is an emergency OR is easy to respond to. It helps prevent our mornings from being too difficult.

Jill here. Amanda wrote a book about marketing, and to thank her for writing a guest post, we're giving away a paperback copy! It's for USA only entrants, please, but the ebook is a great price, so you should check it out.


  1. This is such a great post. Thank you so much, Ms. Luedeke! As writers, sometimes its easy to get frustrated when agents take a long time or don't get back to you at all. This really helped me understand what the other side of the computer screen looks like. Being an agent sounds like a lot of work.
    Again, thank you for such a great post!

    ~Sarah Faulkner

  2. Wow. I had no idea agents were so busy. Thanks for the interesting post!

  3. Thank you for visiting Ms. Luedeke! I agree with Sarah, I had no idea agents were so busy. Have a good one!

  4. Thanks for the wonderful post! I think it is important as writers to understand how agents work so we know what to expect.

  5. I loved reading this, Amanda! It was so interesting to see how you organize your day and all the different things you need to be keeping track of. Thanks for being here today!

  6. I'm currently reading your book now, Amanda, and I am learning so much. =) Great post!

  7. This was amazing to read. Wow, thank you for the insight into the life of a literary agent, Amanda!

  8. Thanks for sharing this, Amanda! I love getting a glimpse of what your day looks like and seeing things from an agent's perspective! :)

  9. Thanks for this, Amanda! Wonderful insight into your job, career, calling. :) I'm sure all your authors are extremely appreciative--thanks for the part you play in bringing people like me (who can't not read) great books!

  10. Thanks so much Amanda for sharing! I never knew that I agent's day was that busy. =)

    TW Wright

  11. Intriguing. I didn't know half of this would go into an agent's job. Sounds pretty busy.

    And it's good you haven't lost your soul, either!

  12. Wow. I would probably get a headache from looking at the computer ALL day. This post made me appreciate all the work that goes into a book more than ever.
    It's a good reminder that agents aren't all the mean, jerks that you see on TV. (Not that I believed that stuff) ;)
    And thanks for giving us a bit of your time from your busy schedule. :)

  13. Great post!! I had no idea how much agents do!!

  14. Thanks for post! I've been wondering a lot about what an agent's life is about, so this was helpful.

  15. Woah, sounds crazy, all right! Thanks for sharing, it's nice to have that perspective. :)

    Nice name, by the way. ;)

  16. Cool post! Sounds like a crazy day!

    Alexa Skrywer

  17. Wow!! Thanks for posting. I never understood how busy agents are.