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Literary Agent

Odds of Hanging On

Even when you're in, it's not easy. If you have survived the fires of the agency underworlds and maneuvered your way to your own desks, keeping your career together is still an inferno of challenges.

Once you're in, the major concern for agents is that at any point a client can leave you for what she believes are greener pastures. Depending on the terms of her contract, all she has to do is give you 30 days notice and good-bye! That cash-cow writer you have been milking for years? She's left you for Agent Sly who has promised her a better packaged deal.

As an agent, hanging on is a career-long commitment. There is no sitting back and kicking up your heels today or tomorrow or even while you are on vacation. Not only can the tastes of the public swing quickly—what's hot one day can be old news the next— your clients' tastes can, too. If for one second they doubt you, your commitment, your mental stability, your deal-making ability, or your integrity, they can take their professional interests elsewhere. And this is why all agents are paranoid and why successful agents never place all their eggs in one basket. You have to always be on the lookout for the next big thing or you can expect to be on the lookout for your next place of work.