Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number Fifteen

Number Fifteen

Agents Only Care If Your Current Book Sells

Also see Rule Number Fourteen.

Just like publishers, traditional agents only care about your current book. That’s all.

On the other hand, a representative cares about all of your books—past, current, and future—and about you as a professional in order to reach their goals. It just so happens that the representative’s goals usually coincide with those of the author.

The really bad part here is that while a publisher isn’t in the business of taking care of authors, the agent is. For agents, they have a vested interest in making sure the authors they work with do well. (Think about it…agents and representatives both make their living by taking a commission (typically around 15%) from the author’s earnings. The more the author makes, the more the agent or rep makes.) The problem comes in because traditional agents look at their income for the next 6-12 months. After that, they have no concept of time, income, or anything else. This nearsightedness is typical of most businesses and not special to literary agents…I have MBA types in my company that give me the deer in the headlight look when I ask about a ten year plan.

A real representative will look farther down the road…sometimes a decade or more. This means that the representative has an interest in helping the author achieve long-term goals. This is a very different perspective on the entire process.

This also ties back to Rule Number Five. Just to say it again, agents handle one book at a time while real representatives handle all of the books from a particular author.

This means that you need to look carefully at what you want your “agent” to do…

If you want to sell just one book to a publisher, you might save a few dollars by hiring a traditional agent. Maybe.

If, however, you want a long term relationship with someone who will accept and sell and place every single work you throw at them, then you need a representative.

Yeah, it really is just that simple. It’s a shame that more writers don’t understand the difference between agents and representatives.

The difference is usually measured in income by a factor of twenty or more. I know of one writer who was struggling with small-press and self-publication to make ends meet. His annual gross income was in the $50,000 range. He made the switch to a representative and in the first year he broke the $1-million barrier. In case you missed it, he was leaving $950,000 on the table.

Keep Loving!


  1. I left the agented/traditional world and became self-pubbed. My latest releases are MELODY, Angel Creek Christmas Brides book 7, and the first story, WINTER WISH, in the box set CHRISTMAS WISHES: WISHES DO COME TRUE, set in Hopeful, Colorado. Both are sweet western historical romances. I also write contemporary romance, time travel romance, and mystery. My books–some sweet, some sensual–can be found at my Amazon Author Page at

  2. We just released our second novel, Cheeky Meets Her Match, with Avid Publishing LLC. We don’t have an agent, though we would love to work with one if they read our books and had an idea how to get them to the right audience. Our books are set in a hot springs spa, where a psychologist helps clients find better intimacy through a program of soaking, exercise, healthy food, good cannabis, and spankings. Doc is assisted in this endeavor by Cheeky, an artificially intelligent computer designed by his brilliant (now deceased) wife. Cheeky does a lot of reading and decides she needs to expand the program to people in power. She sets out to spank the President!

    They are a fun romp through cyberpunk romance, contemporary fantasy, light erotica.

    You can find them here:

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