Agent Divorce

Dear Miss Snark,

I was recently dumped by my agent after several years with no sales. One of my manuscripts has only been seen by 3-4 houses, and I may not be willing to give up on it yet. You've said before that you needn't mention prior relationships with other agents in a query, and that in fact this may be a negative since agent-hopping is not looked upon kindly.

My questions are: Is it looked upon even less kindly if the hopping wasn't my choice? Would another agent care that this well-respected agent was enthusiastic about my work (well, you know, once)? If I don't mention it in the query, when is the right time to tell a prospective agent that a few houses have already seen this?

You DO need to mention that your work has been shopped and you need to mention it early on. One of the things I think about very early is "can I sell this?" and if a project has already been seen by three of my favorite editors I'm less likely to take it on.

I'm not much of a fan of second-go-round projects. If you've got something new, I'd much rather look at that and take this used project for a backup/second book.

And you can just say you and your agent parted amicablly after a period of years. Chances are if we progress to actually talking about hanging out together I'll ask what happened, but at the query stage, I just want to know it happened, not details.


David Baker said...

I'm no expert on agents. I've only had one and I treated her miserably. Of course she left me. But I do know a thing (or three) about divorce(s): always disclose your past failings when entering a new relationship. While mostly it makes you look like damaged goods, sometimes it may work to your advantage. My most recent girlfriend, though twenty years younger, connected with me instantly because she'd just undergone an ugly separation. It is our suffering that knits us together as a species.

just Joan said...

Just be sure you get your share from the divorce settlement! :-)