15.31: The Agent in the Room

Your Hosts: Dan, DongWon, Piper, and Howard

You had questions for agents, Dongwon has answers!

  • How do you go about becoming an agent?
  • How do an agent and author work together?
  • At what point do agent and author talk about the “sticky stuff?”

Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson


Make a list of the questions, especially the hard ones, you want to ask prospective agents.

4 thoughts on “15.31: The Agent in the Room”

  1. Thank you for another great episode! I appreciated Dongwon’s response contrasting Howard’s on the comparison between a real estate and literary agent. My wife operates a real estate team and we’ve had many conversations discussing the difference between industries. The largest difference comes down to individual agents and their strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. A real estate agent can add value beyond being a bulldog used-car salesman who drives for the best price – something I’ve consulted on to help create marketing strategies for my wife’s team. A real estate agent can be a partnership for anything house-related such as maintenance reminders for air furnace filters, when your roof is hitting the peak (pardon the pun) of its lifespan, or referrals to trustworthy contractors who can get a water heater out to you same day on Christmas morning when you wake up to a flooded garage and no hot water.

    And please don’t take my comment as argumentative, but merely a further exploration of your discussion. These are all things I consider when reviewing potential literary agents for the manuscript I’m currently editing. What agent seems to add value even when they’re not representing me? There are plenty of literary agents who only post about the amount of queries they’re wading through or when they make a sale. I know when I’m ready to query, I’ll be looking at agents like Dongwon who spend valuable time writing newsletters and working with writers who don’t have a completed manuscript yet. Just like there are real estate agents who spend their time focusing on neighborhoods who were traditionally redlined and robbed of the opportunity of creating generational wealth through real estate. Sometimes, these are conversations with people who have to work to save money, rebuild credit, or a referral to other financial resources, and is a relationship over two to five years before they’re ready to buy. As someone who has taught classes on diversity and inclusion to the public sector, I appreciate when I see literary agents who value making their own industry more inclusive. Any job in a sales industry does make money based purely on peddling, but it is the individual characteristics and passions of an agent that can make a difference between one sale versus a partnered career.

  2. Three authors, Dan, Piper, and Howard, sat down in a room with an agent, Dongwon, and pulled back the curtains from that secret corner of the publishing industry. Yes, they showed us the elephant in the room! And some ways to become an agent, or to work with one. (No, it does not involve getting a license to kill and a cool kit of special spy tools). Sticky stuff, morals, ethics, and all that? Sure, the foursome talked about a lot of interesting aspects of the agent-author relationship that you can read about now in the transcript available in the archives.

  3. Why doesn’t Dan’s book have a Goodreads page? I actively looked up more books on his profile after I finished John Cleaver and I do that with authors I like. If the books isn’t on Goodreads because he wants to boycott that website, I’m all for it, but he should let his readers know so we can adjust.

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