Dear Miss Snark,
Five years ago I signed on with a new agent in the business. She wasn't AAR, lived in a trailer somewhere down south, and took 20% commission on sales. What can I say? I was green.
One editor at Berkley saw the mss and passed. Six months later, smelling something fishy in Denmark, I terminated the relationship with my agent via registered letter. She responded by e-mail, saying, "That‚s fine, because I closed my business down two months ago." Well, howdy do.
I'm with a new agent now and never mentioned the previous agent. He's trying to sell a different book at the moment, but the book that the editor saw (five years ago) has been revamped and merged with another and now is ready to start making the rounds. Do you think this is something my agent needs to know? My husband says no, because my first agent wasn't a real agent. What do you think?
Look, this isn't a porn video with Killer Yapp, Paris Hilton and the Sultan of Swat you're trying to live down. It's not a stain on your character to have signed with someone who was..charitably..less than stellar in her chosen profession.
The reason you tell your agent about this stuff is so he has all the facts before he goes barreling into Berkley and someone says "oh ya, her, I remembe that" and your agent is left wondering what ELSE you haven't told him.
I hate getting blindsided. I have several clients who came to me sadder but wiser.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell is how we get around "no occupancy" lofts here in NYC but its not a good premise for agent/client communication.