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Day Job

Diana Fox wrote an interesting post on agents with day jobs. You should all go read it. It’s very illuminating.

Something else to consider in addition to what she’s written:

Agents only make 15% of what you make. Since publishing pays authors very very little and agents take 15% of that very very little pay, do the math.

Furthermore, I think it was Donald Maass who said that it’s extremely stressful when a client quits his day job too soon and begs his agent to sell anything so he doesn’t have to get a job that gives him steady paychecks. Unfortunately the client is too depressed and/or worried about money that he can’t produce his best work, and his agent is reluctant to shop substandard projects.

Now reverse the above situation. Imagine you have an agent who quit his steady paycheck job too soon. He realizes that he can’t survive in the commissions he makes, so he tells his clients to pump out books faster so he can start shopping projects around, hoping to get commissions faster even though the client projects could’ve benefited from an extra month of revision. Or worse, he may get tempted by the client money and embezzle. (Desperation can make people do stuff that they would never dream of doing otherwise.)

I’d rather have an agent with a day job who doesn’t pressure me to write faster than I’m comfortable with and / or doesn’t get tempted into doing anything questionable / unethical.

4 comments to “Day Job”

  1. Chelle
    · December 29th, 2008 at 2:44 am · Link

    I saw that post. Very interesting because it’s not something I really thought about for some reason. I knew some agents were leaving agencies to go out on their own. An editor I was targeting left HQ/SIL to become an agent.

  2. Nadia Lee
    · December 29th, 2008 at 6:11 pm · Link


    Are you talking about MJ?

    BTW — I think it depends on the situation. I think that MJ is most likely getting some kind of salary since she’s part of a big established agency.

  3. Chelle
    · December 31st, 2008 at 1:39 am · Link

    Yep. I wondered how she could afford to make a jump like that. I figured she might have some of her authors become clients and have semi-immediate income from the switch.

  4. Nadia Lee
    · December 31st, 2008 at 12:15 pm · Link

    I’m not sure if that’s possible. Her authors are category, so they either already have an agent or don’t want one at this time.

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