Chip MacGregor

January 21, 2013

Do you enjoy being an agent the most at this point?


Someone sent in this: “You’ve been involved in just about every aspect when it comes to the publishing world. Do you enjoy being an agent the most at this point?”

I love agenting. Right now I can’t imagine ever leaving agenting to do anything else in publishing — and that answer comes out of a lot of publishing experience. I’ve made my living as a writer, editor, agent, and publisher. But there’s no question that my favorite role has been that of agent. Why?

First, because I love books and words, and have enjoyed making my living with them. As an agent, I get a chance to talk to a lot of authors about their book ideas and their writing. I have the opportunity to explore a lot of great ideas, to brainstorm stories, and to offer my completely bone-headed opinions on things I know nothing about.

Second, I have a heart for mentoring. It’s my nature to work with a small group of people and talk with them about how to move forward, so I enjoy the personal side of this job.

Third, I have a natural ability with strategic planning. When I was in my doctoral program at the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!), I did my graduate teaching fellowship as the assistant director of the Career Planning and Placement office. That helped me know how to bring to bear the principles of organizational development to an individual’s career choices. (The U of O is strong in the arts, but didn’t have much in terms of career assistance. My job, years ago, was to help develop some tools for those people.) I frequently hear agents talk about the importance of authors doing career planning, but it really seems like to many of them that means, “You need a book deal.” Of COURSE the author needs a book deal — that’s why they signed on with an agent. For a good agent, “career development” means helping authors recognize where they are, define where they need to be, and determine the steps they need to take if they are to move forward. I love talking with writers about their careers and their future plans.

Fourth, I actually enjoy the business side of publishing. I represent great authors, really like the editors I do business with, and just enjoy the entire process of getting books done.

Besides, I’ve tried those other jobs. I don’t want to be an editor again, sitting down with a red pen and a big chunk of dead trees. I don’t want to be a publisher again, since my time as a publisher sucked a lot of the joy out of the business. I still write a bit (this blog is the main focus), but don’t see myself moving into a full-time writing role again. Agenting is a nice fit for me. Thanks for asking.

And this is a good time to say, if you have a question about agents, publishing, or writing careers, I’m happy to post it on the blog and offer any help I can. Feel free to drop your questions into the “comments” section. Appreciate you taking the time to read this.


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  • Mary Curry

    I enjoyed reading this, Chip. Your reply reminded me of how I feel when people ask me if I want to be a principal. Nope. I’m a teacher because I love working with my students.

    I don’t want to be an agent either. I’m a writer because I love working with stories.

    I have no interest in being a principal or an agent, but I’m really happy there are people who love doing those jobs.

    • chipmacgregor

      Nice to do something you enjoy, isn’t it, Mary?

  • Thanks for writing this post, Chip. I love that you love what you do. Your passion for agenting inspires me. As a life coach, I love helping people discover their passion. It makes me happy to know that you’ve found yours. 🙂



    • chipmacgregor

      Thanks, MaryAnn.

  • Leah E Good

    Thanks for this post. It was fun to read. I actually do have a question about agents. What is the best way to become one, especially if you can’t travel out of state to do an internship? Is there any such thing as long distance internships? Thanks!

    • chipmacgregor

      The best way to become an agent? Probably to intern with one… but try talking with some about assisting them and learning some of the ropes.

  • Rajdeep Paulus

    Sometimes it takes a “bone-headed opinion” to make a story stronger, a schedule more organized, and a dream a reality! And btw, you know quite a bit. 🙂

    • chipmacgregor

      In that case, I should be well qualified, Raj.

  • Meghan Carver

    Life has a special sweetness when you love what you do. Thanks for sharing your wisdom here, Chip.

    • chipmacgregor

      You’re welcome, Meghan.

  • Karen Morris

    Fantastic post, Chip. Your enthusiasm is inspiring and encouraging. Clearly, all the career pieces in your past helped shape you into the amazing mentor you are today.

    • chipmacgregor

      I appreciate you coming on to say something, Karen.

  • Mart Ramirez

    I really enjoyed reading your answer, Chip. I am really glad you started up blogging again. I think we ALL are. We appreciate you!

    • chipmacgregor

      Nice of you to say, Mart. Thanks.

  • Thanks ole buddy. I’m glad you are an agent.

    • chipmacgregor

      Me too!

  • I’m glad you found your ideal place. May we always be doing exactly what’s right for us.

  • Jennifer M Zeiger

    Thanks for the insight. You’re always quite informative=)

  • Gretchen O’Donnell

    I, too, am a Duck (WTD)! Though I did my undergraduate work there (English) as opposed to my grad. work. I think we actually have a couple of mutual friends – at least that’s what Facebook tells me. Ha. Anyway, I have been reading your posts for awhile now, and just have to say that your love for your job comes through in your posts – you never sound like you’re irritated with any part of the process, nor are you short/abrupt with your comments. That all lends truth to this post – thanks for sharing your wisdom with us!