A Snarkling reports:
Seven editors is the number my former agent sent my manusript to. All seven rejected it. Six without any real feedback. One with wonderful feedback and an invitation to send her more of my work. It took less than a month to three months to hear back from all seven.
At the end, my former agent wanted a revision or new material. I agreed that it needed to be revised. We disagreed about how. I felt the editor who gave real feedback was right on the mark with her comments. Yes, the writing was sloppy in spots. The hero did appear very unheroish (my word, not the editor's). I disagreed with the editor about her comments calling the plot weak. It wasn't weak, it was worse, contrived. Still, I could fix that. I was pleased when she loved the same unique traits of the story that I added to make the book different from others.
The things that were important to me appeared to be important to her. My former agent was hung up on a different editor; one who stated in the rejection letter that she loved the title, then went on about how everything else was so disappointing. Nothing specific to fix though.
I opted to write new material since we weren't on the same page with the previous one. Six months later, I felt like a hack. I wasn't feeling any of the "love" that I'd felt earlier. In fact, emails went unanswered.
It took years, many manuscripts and way too many agent rejections to get an agent. But as we approached our year anniversary of working together, I didn't care. I was tired of thinking everything I wrote was crap.
We parted company. We were friendly about it, but I don't know which of us was more relieved. I wasn't writing what my former agented wanted to represent. I found it harder and harder to write anything at all.
That was over sixteen months ago. I'm still without an agent. Would I do it again? Yes. It took the next year for me to learn how to trust myself again. Or to learn how to enjoy the process of writing.
Was my former agent a bad agent? No. My former agent was the wrong agent for me.
The bottom line, being able to say "my agent" doesn't mean crap if the agent/author relationship makes either of you feel like a failure.
Know why you're severing the relationship before doing so. Make sure it's in your best interest. When my agent and I parted ways, I tried to fix the problem first.
Also, I knew when we parted company I wouldn't use the previously shopped manuscript when querying new agents. I'd present new material.
I still love that story. I still believe in it. But I want a new agent to have fresh work to shop, not one that's already been around the block. Once my new work has sold, I can pull out the revised old story, give my new agent the history and see what s/he thinks.
We writeres are told over and over and over that a bad agent is worse than no agent.
Sometimes the obvious gets lost: the wrong agent is also worse than no agent. There are plenty of great agents and writers who are wrong for each other.