I received an interesting question from a potential client yesterday. After asking some great questions about what she can expect from me as her agent, the writer then asked what her responsibilities were in our relationship. I thought this was a responsible and smart question, and one that gets overlooked.
The most important thing for me and I think most agents is that my client acts professionally. This means working hard and meeting deadlines. It also means being open to editorial guidance, though of course there will be times you disagree and will need to stick to your guns. It also means treating people with respect, and I'm not just talking about your agent. I also mean editors, publicists, book sellers, reviewers, and even readers.
Professionalism also means that you need to keep reasonable expectations. Publishing can move at a glacial pace, and there are also some archaic customs that should have been tossed aside years ago. Changes are being made, but it's a slow process and patience is absolutely required.