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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: firing an agent, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 8 of 8
1. Agent Shopping

I currently have an agent who has a good reputation and has a decent track record. I have done all the background checks I can and when I signed felt I would be well represented by this person. However, through a series of situations and over a six month period with 0 submissions to publishing houses despite a great deal of talk about multiple submissions, I am beginning to believe that this business relationship is not a good match.

What I would like to know from you is, is it bad protocol to start feeling out the waters with other agents (querying) while still under contract? I don't want to do anything unethical or something that would tarnish my reputation as a new author, however I also would like to have an agent that is doing their job asap. And if it is okay to start querying while under contract, do I mention that I am under contract and looking for a more suitable agent?



First let me congratulate you on making the decision early on that this might not be the right relationship. Too often I see authors flounder with an agent who they don't feel is a good fit, but out of fear they won't find another. Taking control of your career from the beginning is a smart move.

I'm going to assume that you've talked with your agent about your concerns. Often I find that assumptions are made about what others are doing without really knowing the facts. For example, I'm constantly shopping books, talking to editors about the work my clients do, hounding publishers for money and contracts, etc., but I'm not always filling my clients in on every step I'm taking for them. For all you know, the agent could be talking you up to editors.

Okay, on to your question. Yes, it's bad protocol to shop for an agent while you're under contract. Honestly, it's a breach of contract and puts all parties, including the agents you're talking to, in a very uncomfortable position. What if your agent happens to be best friends with one of the other agents you're talking to? How does it make you look to other agents if they know you're the kind of author who might go behind their backs when unhappy? That being said, it does happen all the time. While certainly some agents will feel "protocol be damned," others might tell you to get back in touch after your relationship has been dissolved.

The smart and easy thing to do is quit the relationship and then query. After all, what if you're querying at about the same time your agent decides to start talking to editors about your book? Suddenly you're not going to have much of a project to talk to agents about since by that time it will have been shopped.


Jessica

10 Comments on Agent Shopping, last added: 3/29/2012
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2. Time for a New Agent

I’m a bestselling author with a very successful track record. I’ve enjoyed working with my current agent, and obviously we’ve been successful together, but find that we’re growing in different directions. When looking for a new agent, do I need to query traditionally by sending equeries and following agents’ guidelines, or can I simply call the agents I’m interested in and see if they’re interested in me?

While you probably could make phone calls, I do think your best course of action is to start the query process again. Of course, you’ll need to dissolve the relationship with your current agent first. I know that I feel strongly that before considering a new client I need to make sure I’m not poaching on someone else’s territory. I want to make sure all of you obligations (i.e., agent agreements) are wrapped up.

Agents have made it quite clear they do not like phone calls for queries, and I think that’s no different for published or unpublished authors. There are a lot of people out there seeking representation, some with experience and others without. If we spent all of our time fielding those kinds of calls we’d have no time for anything else. On top of that, agents work odd hours, and trying to catch one can be tricky. Just ask our clients.

I also think sending out queries will get you a faster response time. I would strongly suggest you note in your subject line that you are a bestselling author seeking new representation. This will make you stand out. If your name is recognizable, put that in the subject as well. The one advantage here is that you’ll probably have to worry less about how perfect your query is.

Are you seeking representation for a new project, or do you have a project in mind? I find that it’s a lot easier for me to seriously consider a new client if we’re going into a new project together. I also think it’s a better situation for you. Unless you’re looking for someone to simply take up on the same types of projects you’ve been working on, or the same series you’ve been writing, it’s going to be hard to know if this new agent is right for you unless you know if she’s enthusiastic about your next project. Therefore, pitch the new project. I like that better than someone who simply tells me that I’ll want her because of her previous successes. That’s not fair to you or me. Sure I will, but will I be the right agent for your future successes?

I also believe that a more traditional query process can help you. What if the agent from your first phone call offers? It’s going to make it harder for you to connect with other agents since you haven’t contacted them. Sending out five to ten queries to agents you are interested in puts you in the driver’s seat, allowing you to interview and really talk to all potential agents and choose the one that’s really right for you, hopefully the one you’ll be able to stick with for quite some time. I would also suggest that, for example, if three agents respond (and make offers), but you still haven’t heard from the one or two you’re really hoping for, follow up with those and let them know you have an offer (phone is okay for this). They simply might not have gotten to your query as quickly.

I suspect you’ll have no trouble getting the interest and attention of agents. The key is getting the interest and attention of the agents who really envision your future in the same way you do.

Jessica

22 Comments on Time for a New Agent, last added: 5/25/2010
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3. Sally MacKenzie: Some Thoughts on Choosing an Agent

Sally MacKenzie
The Naked Baron
Publisher: Kensington Zebra
Pub date: April 2009
Agent: Jessica Faust




(Click to Buy)


The recent agentfail discussion got me thinking about agents in general and my relationship with Jessica in particular.

In a perfect world, I suppose I’d have had an agent when I made my first sale, but things didn’t work out that way. When I signed with Jessica, I had my second two-book contract on the table—and in some ways this was a good thing. I wasn’t focused on selling, but on finding a person to help me manage my career, and I’d spent a year working with a New York publisher and observing with keen interest—since I knew I would need an agent soon—how my newly and not so newly published pals interacted with their agents.

I was surprised at how many writers seemed to be afraid of their agents—almost as if they were fifth-graders again and their agent was their English teacher. They didn’t want to bother their agent with “dumb” questions or take up their agent’s time or follow up when they didn’t get a response to something. Many were unhappy, but didn’t discuss their problems with their agent. Some wanted to move on, but couldn’t bring themselves to terminate the relationship. They hoped things would get better. Or they were afraid to be without an agent, even though their agent had become an anchor to their career and their spirit. Those who finally did fire their agent usually wished they’d done so much earlier.

I knew I did not want an agent I’d be afraid of, but what did I want? Did I want an agent who read my work and gave me editorial feedback or one who considered her job only to sell? Was it important to me to be with a Big Name Agency? Would I mind being a small fish in a big pond? Would I care if I didn’t work with my Big Name Agent but with her assistant instead? How did I want to communicate with my agent—snail mail, phone, email—and how quickly did I want to hear back from her? Was she based in New York City—and did I think her location was at all important? Did I care if my agent was male or female?

It was also important to me to meet—or at least observe—the agent in person, to see what “vibe” I got, what my gut told me. I eliminated one agent because I knew her voice would drive me crazy. Another had a limp handshake. Still another didn’t make eye contact. All these agents are well respected, wonderful agents, but I didn’t think they would be wonderful for me.

During this time I didn’t actually query any agents. I didn’t yet know what I wanted, and I was still working on the second book of my first contract, so I didn’t have anything to sell—though I was beginning to realize I could definitely use an agent’s help deciphering the publishing business. And then the day came when my editor called with this offer of a second contract, and the agent issue suddenly moved from the back burner to boiling over on the front of the stove.

I knew there must be many, many good agents out there in publishing-land, but I wasn’t going to be able to meet each of them in the week or two my editor had given me to decide on her offer. And I was getting the glimmer of a clue that there was probably no one perfect agent for me, but a number of agents with whom I could work.

I’d recently had an interview with Jessica. I’d liked her. She had a firm handshake and a pleasant voice and seemed very smart. I checked the writer grapevine and heard good things, so I called her, reminded her who I was, explained my situation, and asked if she’d like to read some of my work to see if she might be interested in representing me. She went out and got my published book, and I sent her my next manuscript so she could see where I was going. It was really important to me that she got my writing—and, happily, it was important to her, too. I asked her for the names of a couple of her clients, and I called or emailed them to see what they had to say about her and the way she worked. It was all good, and Jessica offered to represent me. Now I had to make the decision.

Jumping into an agent relationship blindly or in desperation is not a good idea. Not only it is hard emotionally to break off the agent-writer relationship—or at least it seems to be difficult for many writers I’ve talked to—but you’ll have a legal and financial relationship with this person for as long as the books she represented stay in print. Yet even making a considered decision is nerve-wracking. No matter how carefully you do your homework, when you finally chose an agent it’s still a leap of faith. You can’t know for certain you’ll be a good team until you’ve worked together.

I took that leap when I signed with Jessica in July 2005, and I’m delighted to report I’m even happier with my decision today.


USA Today bestselling author Sally MacKenzie writes funny, hot Regency-set historicals for Kensington’s Zebra line, and her books have been translated into Czech, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian. Her fifth book, The Naked Baron, arrives on bookstore shelves April 28 and is a Romantic Times BOOKreviews Top Pick for May, with the baron himself receiving a K.I.S.S. award. A native of Washington, D. C., she still lives in suburban Maryland with her husband and whichever of her four sons are stopping back in the nest. To find out more about Sally and her books, visit her website at www.sallymackenzie.net.

21 Comments on Sally MacKenzie: Some Thoughts on Choosing an Agent, last added: 4/30/2009
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4. You Have an Agent . . . Now What

A reader recently expressed frustration that there is so much information on the Internet about querying and how to do so properly, but so little about what to do next. What happens once the author-agent relationship is established and what can you do if problems arise?

Now, I’ve written a number of posts on how to handle the situation when the agent stops responding and you’re hearing nothing, but what if it hasn’t gotten quite that bad yet. I’m sure a number of you will have specific questions, but I’ve tried to come up with some information here on my own.

When getting that first offer of representation, you have already established a relationship with an agent. It might not be the person you ultimately agree to hire as your agent (because presumably you’re using this fabulous opportunity to shop around for just the right person), but it is the time to begin your relationship. To find out how the agent works and to get a sense for whether or not the two of you will be compatible.

I’ve said it over and over, but I’m not sure I’ve ever said it quite so simply: The key to a successful author-agent relationship is communication. Now, I realize that communication only works if it’s coming from both sides, but someone needs to start somewhere. It’s the rare agent who will make all the initial contact with an author. We have many authors, you have one agent. Because of that I advise all of my clients to contact me as often as they want about whatever they are wondering about. I get emails and phone calls all the time from clients about the status of their submissions, concerns about the direction of their publishing careers, advice on what to write about on the blog, confirmation of gossip and rumors, just to touch base, to tell a funny story, or to make sure I still think they are great. And of course any time I have information or news to share with my clients I pass it along.

Part of what I try to remember to do when signing a client is to get a feel for career goals. Unfortunately, in the excitement of signing a new client and enthusiasm for the project we’re currently working on, sometimes that information gets pushed aside momentarily. Eventually, though, the conversation happens and needs to happen and I think it’s wonderful when it comes from the client. I have a number of clients who actually write up business plans and goal lists for themselves and their careers. If you do that, don’t hesitate to share it with your agent. An agent can work best for you if she knows exactly what you want and what you need. So don’t be afraid to let her know that.

If you have specific ideas of what an agent should be you need to talk to your agent about that before you sign on the dotted line. Do you think an agent should be available 24/7 no matter what? Ask your potential agent how she handles communication. Better yet, get in touch with some of her clients and ask them. Ask the tough questions, not only how the agent handles such things, but also what some of her negatives might be. I know a number of my more recent clients talked with more long-standing clients before signing. They weren’t hard to find, just search our Web site or Publishers Lunch.

But what if you did all of that and still there are problems: suddenly the agent is not following through on what you felt she had promised, or you just don’t feel you’re connecting. What next?

Not Keeping Promises Agent: You’ve been told repeatedly that she’ll get back to you in a week and that was four months ago. You know that your submission is on hold, because she has promised revisions, and it’s beyond frustrating. What do you do? You have a very frank talk. Assuming she is returning phone calls and emails, you get in touch and tell her that you have some concerns with the length of time it’s taking to get your book out on submission. And then you need to judge whether her reaction was the right one or not. A good agent will explain what happened, apologize, and follow through finally on getting back to you in that week, or at least in a realistic time. If she’s not receptive, maybe it’s time to consider getting out before you’ve wasted more time.

Not Following-Up Agent: Your work has been on submission, you’ve heard from three of the five publishers, but for some reason your agent refuses to follow up with the other two publishers. What is going on? Following up is an uncomfortable business. No one wants to be a nag. Unfortunately, that’s part of an agent’s job. Again, you need to pick up the phone and possibly get very firm with your agent. You need to explain that one of the reasons you need an agent is to do those things you don’t like to do, including nag editors.

Making Decisions Agent: You have an offer from a publisher! Yippeee! What next? Well, it seems that your agent is going along without talking to you and making all of the decisions without you. Some authors are fine with this, others aren’t. When your agent calls to tell you an offer is on the table, your job is to find out what’s next. What is her plan and what do you need to do? Ask pointed questions: How is she going to negotiate this? What are her thoughts on the other publishers who still have the material? And you need to share: What are your thoughts?

Not Following-Through Agent: All of those promises that were made before signing on the dotted line seem to have been nothing but words. None of those things are now happening. Again, it’s time for a conversation. If the answers aren’t satisfactory, you need to determine what’s next for you and your career.

These examples are obviously extreme. In the grand scheme of things most of you should have wonderful experiences. You hopefully found an agent you really connect and feel comfortable with. The two of you have devised a plan for what’s next—maybe revisions on your manuscript, a discussion of where and who to submit to, and a submission plan—and you are either in the middle of revisions or happily writing your next book, one you’ve discussed with your agent.

I hope that helps answer some questions and concerns.

Jessica

21 Comments on You Have an Agent . . . Now What, last added: 8/25/2008
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5. Mostly about chickens

Birds of a feather...the chicken on the left is a V.I.B. (Very Important Bird). She came all the way from the Border Tart, with a gorgeous Easter card of her sisters. Unfortunately she arrived in the middle of the upheaval, (see below) but now she has her own hanging space, next to the folk bird. There are some very special and affordable treasures on this site, and we at the Hovel wish the Tart all good wishes with her new venture.



Meanwhile, in the new improved studio...attempting to print for the first time in oh, about 13 years...most of it came back quite easily, some memories emerged when I hit problems. There were snags right from the start - last year I invested in 'proper' lino inks, water based...nasty. Flat, dull, thick. I had 25 sheets of nice pink linen effect card, upon which I wanted to print a poultry design. It doesn't matter how often you do test pieces on bits of scrap, sooner or later you have to bite the bullet and print on your precious stock...



The ink pushed out to the edges of the design and soaked into tiny crevices. The lino didn't want to accept the ink. The card was too shiny. I finally remembered that oil based inks are best. I went online and found a great medium, Daler Rowney Georgian block printing medium. It's recommended that you use it with their own oils, but essentially it's a sticky glop which thickens up normal oil paint and gives it the 'tack' you want for ink rolling. It saves re-investing in 'proper' relief inks, which are the best part of a tenner per tube, way beyond my pocket. It's quite frustrating at these times, when you need something 'now' and live miles from any decent shop, without a car. Internet shopping is brilliant, but delivery times are variable. I found it cheapest at Ziggy Arts and I was really pleased when it arrived the next day. That is service! And their postal rates are very reasonable too, so they get top marks from me. Bizarrely they don't seem to have it in stock anymore - did I buy their last tube?

This is how the water based inks performed...not so good.



Unfortunately, my first attempts with the new medium didn't give significantly better results at first. The (large amount) of lino I bought last year isn't 'how it used to be in the good old days'. I did check; I've got some old plates filed away, and the surface is sumptuously dense and ink saturated. The new stuff is greasy and the shiny surface pushed the ink about. I consulted Andy. He was a whizzo printer in our college days - he still is when he puts his mind to it, but that is another story. Firstly he told me my ink was too thick and then that the medium didn't work. I was determined to make it work as I can't afford to spend any more money. And as I was tidying up the edges of the design, a vague memory of 'sandpaper' crept into my troubled mind. Whizzo printer didn't think it would work - but it did! Gently sanding the surface gave the lino 'teeth' and the ink a purchase, enabling it to soak into the plate. With that, and spritzing the card, then blotting it in an old magazine, I was away. The studio started smelling nostalgically like a print room, even with the window open (remember kids, always print in a well ventilated area). There's still a lot of work and experimentation to be done, but I think I'm getting there. Better had be, I need to earn some pennies!



There is nothing like seeing repeated images Andy Warhol style. That's one of the things I love about printing.



Francie from the Scented Cottage has asked me to name favourite five blogs. Well, most of my favourites are over there in my links. Some of them are superstar popular, and for good reason. Some are not so well known, but I visit them every week, because they are brilliant.

1) The newest kid on the block is Children Chocolate and Wine. There's a long story behind this, involving the ill fated Country Living 'find a new columnist' contest - but on this barely fledged central hub-blog you'll find a plethora of new bloggers, all writing wonderfully, mostly about Real Country Life - in which very little Cath Kidston features. Many of them have never had a 'proper' blog before, but you wouldn't know it. So please extend the big bloggy hand of friendship to them and make them feel welcome.

2) Ramblings of a Cotswold Gent. Very funny and often mustard sharp. One of those rare blogs which can perform on writing alone. Also the only other blog I'm aware of in our area and it's nice to know someone local.

3) Remember I'm the Bloody Architect. Supreme, witty writing, always makes me smile - does the wondrous thing of making architecture entertaining...it's the way she tells it.

4) Hannah's Country Kitchen OK, listing this means I have to divulge our new status of TV owners (yes, yes, I'll confess all another time). We got hooked on Masterchef. I was thrilled to find that the lovely Hannah, one of the finalists, has her own blog, where she shows her mind-blowingly beautiful cakes and shares her recipes. This is one of the blogs you go to for time out and niceness.

5) Oh dear, only one left...hmm...ok, quilt and patchwork heaven...Feeling Simply Quilty. Gorgeous. Simply gorgeous.

Ah yes. I hooked my web cam up. It's on when I'm in the studio, (UK time) and I put my open/shut sign up as necessary. Not that seeing my grizzled head bent over artwork is at all interesting, but it gets me to work in the morning.

EDIT - Blogger turned the comments box off! Thanks to Penny for alerting me...


8 Comments on Mostly about chickens, last added: 4/27/2007
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6. Divorcing Your Agent

Is it ethical to query agents, just to gauge interest in my work, while still represented by an agent? While I can understand the analogy about not quitting one job until you've lined up another, I think that a writer's relationship with an agent is more like a marriage . . . meaning, you don't start "dating" until you've ended things with your current partner.

I sat on this question for quite some time, and sat and sat. I thought about how difficult and how stressful it is for authors to finally have an agent and decide they are going to start over. And I thought about the unwritten ethics of agents poaching authors from other agents (unethical) and authors looking for new agents while still under representation (unethical), and I had to think about my feelings on all those subjects.

And here’s what I came up with. Firing an agent and hiring a new one is not the same as finding a new landscaper or changing doctors, because landscapers and doctors are getting paid for the work they are doing as they are doing it. An agent is not. An agent does a lot of work before ever getting paid and a lot of work in between royalty checks with no guarantees more payment will come. So while I know it’s incredibly stressful for an author to suddenly go agentless again, I think that you need to make the decision to fire your first agent before querying others.

Let me go into more detail. I do a lot of work for my clients that they don’t necessarily know about. If a book is out on submission I am spending hours and hours honing my query letter, I am talking to editors about your work, and researching my own list of editors to find just the right people. Finding the right publisher isn’t enough, I need to find the editor who I know your writing, your voice, and your story will speak to. Once the book is out I’m continuing to build my list of possible submissions and I’m sending editors updates, follow-ups, and checking in. In other words, I’m nagging up a storm. While doing all of this I’m spending time on you and your work and not on my other clients. And I’m not getting paid.

For those clients who are not out on submission, but who are already sold, I’m working on subsidiary rights, I’m thinking about the directions of their careers, I’m hounding editors for checks and contracts and negotiating. I’m talking to editors about list placement and what can be done to build a bigger and stronger career. In general I’m working to make my client a star. And there’s no guarantee I’m going to get paid what I’m worth. In other words, sure, I’ve taken my 15% of the advance, but in this business there’s no guarantee that I’m going to be making anything more. Royalties are not guaranteed. Most important, though, it would be a shame if I’m working with the editor to set the stage for your next deal only to find out, a short time before that deal comes, that Aggie Agent is handling it instead and that I’m out. I really have no recourse as long as I get that certified letter, and Aggie doesn’t have to do much of anything. I’ve already set it up.

I also think there’s a trust issue. Much of an agent-author relationship is built on trust. You trust that I’m not going to take on another author that’s directly competitive with your work. Sure, I’m going to take on more cozy mystery authors, but I’m not going to take on another author writing a knitting mystery. That’s a series that would cut into the exact market for the knitting mystery series I already have, and do you really want to find out that your agent is also representing your biggest competitor? I also trust that you’ll be honest with me. If you don’t think the relationship is working any longer, then I need to know that up front. I need to know what’s wrong and if, in your mind, I’m still working for you.

For me, I’m suspicious of the author who is querying agents while still under representation. It seems sneaky and underhanded to me and it immediately sends up a red flag. Many times I have been queried by authors who have fired their agents, but are waiting out the grace period. I’m fine with that because the other agent already knows what’s going on. I’m not comfortable working behind the back of my colleagues, however.

I do think your example was right. While the author-agent relationship is obviously a business relationship, we all know it goes much deeper than that and is thought of as more of a marriage. Why wouldn’t it be? You often call your books your babies, so why wouldn’t you be looking for just the right “partner” to take that book out into the world? You wouldn’t think it was right to answer personal ads while still married, while your partner is still busy keeping the relationship alive, and you wouldn’t want to know that the person who wrote the ad you just answered is already in a relationship either. I think the agent relationship is similar. It’s built on trust and, let’s face it, it involves emotions. Handing your baby over to someone to raise it and present it to the world isn’t easy. It takes trust, and if you decide to trust me enough to take that job on I trust you enough to value our relationship.

Let’s put it this way. If you promise to be honest with me, and fire me before seeking out other representation, I promise to stick by you through big deals and no deals and only quit when I feel the passion has died.

Jessica

24 Comments on Divorcing Your Agent, last added: 3/11/2008
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7. Freakishly Unresponsive, Mysteriously Silent, Information-Withholding, Possibly Jekyll-and-Hydeish, Raging-Headache-Inducing, No Good, Very Bad

The title comes straight from the questioner herself. It’s so brilliant I had to use it . . .

Here’s the deal. I received a question from a reader in which she’s dying to fire her agent. She really wants to fire her agent, but said agent won’t answer her phone calls or emails . . . in over seven months. I must be in a mood today because your predicament, while obviously horrible and frustrating, made me laugh. I’m constantly asked about agents who don’t respond, but it never dawned on me that when they don’t respond you can’t even fire them. That is really annoying!

Send a letter. Send a certified letter announcing her immediate dismissal. If you have a written contract, use that as your guide. In the letter demand that she send you, within 14 days of receiving the letter, a list of publishers who have reviewed the proposal as well as those who might still have it or have rejected it. And, since she’s so unresponsive (and kind of mean, based on your email), I would insist that she pull all submissions currently under consideration. In other words, I would break all ties cleanly. Get out from under her thumb altogether.

You also asked if you should consult a lawyer for the list. That’s up to you. Is this a proposal you’re hoping to take to another agent? You could threaten a lawyer. If you haven’t seen the list after your letter is received, you could follow up with a letter insisting that the list be sent or you will be calling your attorney. Something like that. I don’t know why it can sometimes be so difficult to get this information out of an agent. I supply a list the minute the submission goes out and keep my clients regularly updated on where else it might be, who else has requested it and, of course, when the rejections come in. It’s a team effort and team efforts don’t work unless everyone knows the plays.

If it is a proposal you want with another agent, the submissions you pulled should be able to be re-sent at a later date. If not, let it die out and move on to another agent with another book.

I apologize on behalf of agents everywhere for this person’s behavior and hope that your next will be as wonderful as me ;)

Just kidding! (See, clearly I’m in a mood.)

Jessica

19 Comments on Freakishly Unresponsive, Mysteriously Silent, Information-Withholding, Possibly Jekyll-and-Hydeish, Raging-Headache-Inducing, No Good, Very Bad, last added: 3/22/2008
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8. When to Cut Ties with Your Agent

I’ve talked a lot about the author-agent relationship and imagine that there are a lot more posts on that topic in my future. I’ve certainly covered how to fire your agent when she is ignoring you, but what about the agent who is paying attention to you, but just can’t seem to sell your work? How do you know when to cut ties with this person?

The really difficult part about answering this question is that I can’t, really. I can give guidance, but making the decision to fire an agent is really personal and, frankly, I always feel that if you’re asking that question you’re probably ready to let go. I’ve often likened the author-agent relationship to dating or marriage, in a business sense, and I think this is no different. How often have you dated someone and known long before it was over that it was over, but instead of doing anything about it you just went along with the way things were simply because it was easier? If you say never, then you are either lying or you married the one and only person you ever dated, because at one point or another I think we’ve all done that. Okay, maybe it wasn’t dating, maybe it was a friendship, or your agent. . . .

Here’s the deal: if you feel your agent has lost confidence in you or your work or you feel that you need to be going in a direction that your agent doesn’t seem to want you to go in, you need to have a conversation. After nearly ten years in business it should come as no surprise that I too have had clients fire me. I don’t think any of us have gone our separate ways feeling any animosity for each other, at least I didn’t, but in at least a couple of instances I felt like the client was really, truly, for the first time telling me what she wanted, when she fired me. Communication can make all the difference in any relationship, and if you’re not good at it, now is the time to practice. Call your agent up; if she’s not ignoring you, then she’s presumably taking your calls, and have an honest conversation about your concerns, what you’re feeling, and what you would like to see more of. If you have a good agent she’ll be just as honest back, and at that point you’ll know whether this relationship is really going to work. Are the two of you now on the same page? Do you think you can continue to work together?

If the conversation didn’t go as you had hoped or you still really feel that this is no longer working, then it’s probably time to cut and run. Listen, no one can tell you when to break up with your boyfriend, divorce your husband, quit your job, or fire your agent. Sadly these are all decisions we need to make on our own, in our own time. The author-agent relationship is sacred; the agent is the one person in your career who you can consistently count on to be in your corner, and if you’re not feeling the love, maybe it really isn’t there.

As for the question of firing an agent because she can’t sell your work, well, that’s a personal decision too. There is no time frame on when a work should sell or if a work should ever sell. What you want, though, is an agent who continues to believe in you and your work and is willing to stick by you. Remember, though, an agent, like an author, can have periods where she too feels discouraged and upset. If we’re excited about something and it doesn’t sell, you have to give us the same mourning period you give yourself. It’s only natural.

Obviously I’m one side of this equation. What about authors? Any advice?

Jessica

19 Comments on When to Cut Ties with Your Agent, last added: 6/4/2008
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