Monday, September 29, 2008

The Established Agent

STATUS: I had a relaxing weekend so I’m feeling ready to face the week.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? TAKE IT WITH ME by Tom Waits

Last week I was talking about stages in an agent’s career. I hit on the new agent and the building agent. I didn’t actually take the time to talk about established agents because I actually think there are many stages in this part of an agent’s career.

An established agent at year 6 or 7 isn’t in the same place as an established agent in year 20 or 25.

So building and established are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

What is interesting to me is that good agents don’t ever stop learning. Just look at the evolution in the last 10 years of digital technology and how that has impacted the publishing industry. That’s a clear case of many established agents having to learn on the job.

Even an agent who has been doing this job for 20+ years had to learn about eBooks and royalty structures that would be associated with it. This isn’t even something that existed when those agents first learned the biz.

So what makes an established agent? That’s a good question. To me it’s a fluid definition.

I’m solidly in year 5 of having my own agency. Am I established or am I still building? If I want to consider myself established, what is the criteria for that? An established reputation? X number of sales? X number of well-known clients? X number of years? Perhaps it would be a sales threshold reached?

I do know one thing. Being established, if you consider yourself there, doesn’t mean there aren’t new things to learn. The smart agents, regardless of where they are in their careers, know that.