I get some of the most exciting questions on Twitter! Today, for instance, TisKarma wanted to know
What’s it like working with Maureen Johnson?
Well, that depends, Karma (great name, btw! I had a summer camp friend named Karma when I was a wee KT!). For instance, some days start like with a “Hello, petunia!” on IM, and some days get going with a poke. But Maureen and I have a long history — we were friends back in college, lived together in two different countries and multiple apartments, and both got our start in this publishing business around the same time.
But I think the real question here is — what’s a real working relationship between an agent and an author look like? Once you’ve snagged an agent (or, on the flip side, once you’ve signed a fab author), what’s THAT like?
Like so many questions on this page, it depends. What your relationship is like with an agent may be one thing while she’s submitting your manuscript, and something else entirely when your book has sold to a publisher, and you’re working on revisions with your editor.
The key, to my mind, is openness. You want to be able to tell your agent anything and everything about your book and your writing, and your agent should keep you in the loop when things happen on the business side. Are you going to be best friends and have slumber parties and do each other’s hair? Maybe. But I wouldn’t count on it. That’s not what you should look for in an agent.
Sure, if you find a real friendship, that’s brilliant. And I like to think I’d get on really well with most of my clients — I know we do via email and Twitter, and I’ve had good experiences with online friendships becoming something more. But that’s secondary to how well you work together.
If you have an idea you’re excited about, does she get excited, too? If you’re worried, or having a tough time with a draft, can you talk to her? Does she inspire you or cheer you on? If something’s troubling you, can you tell her?
I’ve said before the author/agent partnership is a relationship, and as such, it shouldn’t just be something decided based on credentials, or how someone looks on paper. I always want to talk to any prospective client before signing them, to get a sense of how we’d work together, how our personalities would mesh, and that’s one of the reasons I’m glad I’m on Twitter — to help authors who may become clients get a feel for me, and my personality.
Oh, and one of the good things about working with MJ? I get to know about the SEKRITS before the general public. Squee!