Janet Reid on agent burnout

Nice post up today over at Janet Reid’s main site,on agent burnout.

A while back I posted a question from a writer who seriously wondered if her agent was dead or abducted by aliens (no contact for months on end.)

In my reply I mentioned that kind of thing has been happening more often. That observation sparked some interest and some requests for elaboration. …

What this is has a name: burnout. Agenting is a job that’s ripe for burnout for two reasons:

1. Almost nothing is under our direct control
2. Almost nothing is ever finished

And she goes into how many younger agents may not have the background and support they need to be able to handle the crazy things that evidently happen. Also, this, about how things are never actually finished:

When I say nothing is ever finished, let me just illustrate that with an example from this weekend: I read a manuscript (which was very good) and sent the author (my client) a series of notes. He’ll make changes, then send the ms to his editor. Done? Not even close. When this goes to edits/copyedits/production/publication there will be lots of things to do and problems to address. The work is never ever done and that can be daunting because it’s really hard to take time off, or even step back sometimes knowing that the work is just going to stack up.

Now, the editing end of things, which Janet is empathizing in the bit I quoted above, is not the part I would actually hate dealing with. I’m no great shakes as an editor, but at least working with the actual ms is something I do not loathe.

Stuff I would totally loathe dealing with:

a) figuring out the contract and what’s normal and what should be argued about etc etc etc. On a scale of one to ten, I would hate dealing with that at about an seven. Or an eight. Eight and a half.

b) calling people at the publishing house every other day for months nagging about things. On a scale of one to ten, I would hate dealing with that at about a hundred and five.

So, yeah, thank heaven for Caitlin. Who I trust will never, ever even flirt with the edges of burnout.

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