Books I’ve written, edited or contributed to.

I’ve had film agents, lit agents and publicists, and sometimes I even represent myself. I have books on major publishing houses and cool indies. I’ve run my own small press. At the beginning of my writing career, I almost signed my life away to a slimy manager but avoided that mistake thanks to a great lawyer. Here are my 2 cents for up-and-coming authors.

1-Don’t use superlatives in your book proposal! The book idea and writing should sell itself—no need to add unnecessary adjectives or claims you can’t back up with facts.

2-Agents know the market better than you do. They live and breathe it because it’s their job to do so. If your agent makes a suggestion for improvement or tells you what’s selling—or not—it’s a good idea to tamp down the ego and listen.

3-Foreign rights can be profitable—and tricky. There are tax forms, different market schedules and foreign agents to consider. Although I did my own first American book deal by myself, my agent later sold my foreign rights—something best not to DIY.

4-Don’t come to them in half measures. I’ve had a lot of wacky ideas along the way and in my excitement I have sent them out before they were fully formed. Flesh out that book proposal and make it the best it can be before showing it to anyone, especially your agent.

5-Agents make mistakes, agents make decisions based on what they know and agents are human. One of my agents passed on representing two of my friends who went on to become New York Times bestselling authors. One of those friends broke up with her first agent—who was not a good fit—and found someone else who loved (and sold) her work. Trust your gut. Move on when necessary. But check that ego first.