I had a client recently who saw several of my tweets and got concerned because, from all appearances, I was picking up my writing hat again (I keep using the hat analogy in all my blog posts; I don't even LIKE hats all that much. I'm going to start using shoes. Or scarves...)
Before my discussion with her, I hadn’t realized that agenting and authoring were such exclusive businesses. Mainly, because when I started in this industry as an intern, as I was introduced to the agent staff I was told, “We’re all writers -- or have been.”
There are many agents who are also authors: Mandy Hubbard, (previously) Nathan Bransford, Laura Rennert, to name a few.
I’ll admit that logistically, I’ve always sort of wondered how that works: do they represent themselves? I'm also in COMPLETE awe of their ability to do it all. But I never worried about what AUTHORS thought of such a practice – and I should have, because apparently, they have quite STRONG opinions about it!
Some don’t care; some reason that as long as the agent is doing a good job, it’s a bonus, really, as the agent can then sympathize with deadlines and the woes of the process.
Others feel it’s a conflict of interest; budgeting time between when to write and agent, when to promote self vs. clients, and even when to close to certain types of submissions so as NOT to conflict with what he or she is writing.
My own standpoint on this has always been a little washy. As someone who started off purely on the author side of things (just an interview link that explains what that means), I’ve always dreamed that one day, I COULD find the time to write my own novels and maintain a select, but fantabulous client list. The more I delve into agenting, however, I’m thinking that may just be impossible; it takes an INCREDIBLE amount of time to be an author: aside from just finding time to WRITE, there’s finding time to edit, finding time to promote oneself, finding time to revise, finding time to meet deadlines.
After my conversation with my client, I’m sort of glad I’ve never committed either way. It makes me sad, to think I’ll never write professionally, which is why I can’t quite give up that dream (and part of me is resentful if I HAVE to), but I also completely understand how my clients could be concerned, and I think hey, I’m a professional; as an agent, my duty is to my clients. Period. They didn't sign on for that...why start now?
A fellow agent of mine has had to deal with this question directly because there is an author that shares her name; she’s had people PASS on her as an agent because they think she’s the author, and she’s also had clients tell her upfront that they’re out if she ever writes. That boggled my mind!
So, fellow publishing enthusiasts; what do you think? Is there a consensus to be reached on this…or is it just another gray area that will forever remain an area of debate?