Welcome to the Eight Days of Agenting, a patented experience that is guaranteed to make you have a good time! At least, I hope it will. =) The quality of the posts is only going to be as good as the quality of the questions I get, so don't forget that you can always ask more questions throughout the whole posting period, which will extend until the night of April 10th.
kimber an asks:
Here's a question: How closely do you work with Ms. Perkins? Do you have to consult her on your choices and plans? Do you communicate with her daily or just check in? Do your clients only work with you?
Lori and I have what we both like to call a "mentoring relationship". When she took me on as an associate, I was already pretty thoroughly trained in the basics of being an agent, courtesy of my former boss, Paige Wheeler. Lori thought that I was capable of handling my own client list, making it grow larger, and helping her to deal with the sheer volume of submissions that she gets. I would be largely autonomous in my day-to-day operations, and she would be there for any advice and help that I needed. Basically, she offered me the invaluable gift of being able to draw upon the twenty years of agenting experience that she has, as well as the power of her name within the business, since it does carry a decent bit of weight. In return, she wanted to help me grow as an agent and a person, as a way of helping someone young get a good start in the business, like she had been helped herself. And of course, there would be money involved, as I helped earn it, but that is naturally a given in business. (For the record, I have extremely good compensation terms.)
To get to the meat of the actual question, I am fairly autonomous as an agent. I have the freedom to pick and choose my own clients, represent their projects, and manage their affairs. Lori handles the financial side of things, so all of the advance and royalty checks are processed through her office, which works for me, since I don't particularly like accounting. She and I consult with each other at least a few times a week, and sometimes on a daily basis or several times a day. We talk about the clients and projects that we're both currently shopping around, share information about publishing doings, and plan various things. For projects in areas that I'm not quite as familiar with, Lori and I often sit down and brainstorm things together. She'll help me figure out who are the best editors to send a certain project to, and how it might be marketed as well. She also has a really good eye for what will sell and what won't sell, so I often ask her opinion on things that I'm on the fence about.
This is all part of the mentoring aspect of our relationship, and something I think that every good boss should help their employees do. By helping me learn more of the intricacies of the agenting world, Lori has helped me refine my experience as an agent, and at the same time, made sure that I can be a bigger help to her in her business. I completely feel that I've grown as an agent under her tutelage, and that one can never stop learning, no matter what field they work in.
My clients, as well as Lori's clients, don't necessarily work exclusively with either one of us. For the most part, if I become your agent, you'll be my client. But let's say that you've got a kick-ass erotica novel in you, which is something that's not my thing; I know it's good, but I haven't got the slightest clue how to go about selling it (well, actually, I do have a clue, but this is for the sake of the example). At that point, I'd ask Lori to take a look at your project, and see if she would be interested in selling it for you. Assuming it's good, she'd shop the project around, possibly with my help, and we'd split the final commission (remember, I've got good terms here). Similarly, I'm currently helping one of her clients with an anthology project at the moment. The anthology is more towards my side of things, so I'll represent the author for this project, but Lori will handle her novels. And so on.
I have one client, for example, whose fiction I'm going to sell, but Lori may handle her nonfiction work. We haven't really decided yet, but it's an open possibility. This is the benefit of being able to work closely with another agent, within the same agency, even though our offices are physically not in the same place.