Separation Anxiety

Dear Miss Snark:

I signed with an agent last year and she's been shopping my book for 9 months. She's a newer agent with a few small sales on PM. Our styles don't mesh (she doesn't pass on rejection letters or ANY feedback from editors even after I've asked for it, and I don't like being in the dark). So, yeah, she's getting my work out there on the right desks, but if possible I'd like to have an agent that matches me better.

In the meantime I've finished my next novel. I have a list of 20 agents I'm interested in. Is it unethical to query these 20 agents for my new book before I terminate my contract with her for the old book? Obviously, before I sign with a new agent, I will terminate my contract with her. But can I start the process?

My big fear is that I terminate with her and then start querying for the new book and fail to sign with another agent.
In addition to the question of whether or not it's the ethical thing to do... is it the common thing to do?

It seems like authors switching agents happens all the time. I'm wondering what they usually do. Do they have something else lined up before they cast off the old or do they terminate first and take the risk of ending up alone?

Ok, here's what I'm supposed to say: never ever query another agent till you've terminated your old one.

Here's what happens in real life: People jump the gun all the time. I have two clients who were "separated" from their agent but not "divorced" when they talked to me. I didn't sign them till they were finished with the old one, but I also knew both the old ones and talked to them about the clients before hand.

You're unhappy with her style, and you don't think she's getting results. There's NO guarantee another agent will do better for you. And if you start approaching other agents you've got to have something more concrete in your quiver than "I didn't like her style" cause that can come off as "Miss Difficult the Client from South Hellespont".

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