6.15.2006

Miss Snark Opens the Auction NOW till 6am

O Queen of Snark,

I had a lean-and-hungry young agent who sold a number of books for me. As time passed, the market for my genre tanked, I sold fewer books, and I got a microscopic amount for the ones I did sell. Meanwhile my agent acquired some high-profile bestseller clients. It got so I had to e-mail him several times before he'd answer, and then he stopped answering at all. Another agent I know said that that's often the easiest way of getting rid of unprofitable clients, since they make a huge fuss if you drop them formally.

I got discouraged and stopped writing for a few years, but now I'm ready to get back in the game. I'm working in a new genre (related to the old one, so I'm not starting from scratch), and I want a new agent. But how straightforward should I be about what happened to the old one? I don't want to diss him, and I obviously don't want to say "He couldn't get a publisher to take my stuff even if he paid them, so he dropped me." From what you've been saying, though, it sounds as if it will raise red flags if I say "We saw things differently" or some euphemism like that.

All snarkist insight will be much appreciated!

A Fan

(Needless to say, I'm delighted if you print this on the blog, or even sell it at auction.) :-)


What am I bid for the rights to a Snarkly euphamism?

All bids in the comment column through 6am Eastern Standard time tomorrow (Friday 6/16) will be eligible to compete. Prizes awarded completely arbitrarily and any physical prizes will be sent ONLY to US addresses.

35 comments:

Elektra said...

The Crapometer shall usher in the Day of the Snark, during which all submissions must involve George Clooney, pink tams, or vast quantities of gin.

Elektra said...

Additionally, the Cerberus in my WIP shall be renamed to Killus Yappus, and shall reform the Underworld with his New York savoir-faire

Mikosama said...

"After x years, Agent Unresponsive and I amicably parted ways."

No need to spill the gory details in a query letter. A new agent will ask for details if they really want to know. Just make sure you are very polite about the whole thing - spin it as drifting apart, going in different directions, or a related cliche.

Inkwolf said...

Well, everyone's gonne bid George Clooney, so...

I bid TWO George Clooney clones, one of whom has just written an absolutely surefire best-selling series of books, and the other of whom has just graduated from the Kama Sutra School of Sensual Massage and Dog Grooming.

Cheryl Mills said...

Say nothing and if it ever comes up...
"I thought he died. I sent flowers and everything. Oh, thank goodness, 'cause he's such a swell guy. Now where do I sign?"

virginia said...

I bid a pail of that fancy cucumber gin I keep seeing advertised in The New Yorker.

Bibliophile Bitch said...

"The public became tired of my shit, as did my agent, so we all quit communicating."

O Great And Wise Snark Queen. Wouldn't any self-respecting agent know a specific genre "stopped selling" and understand why this writer is looking for a new agent?
New genre, new agent. Especially, after a haitus.

Chumplet said...

"My agent no longer handles my genre."

It's true, isn't it? If the genre dried up, the agent must be going in another direction. That's what I would say... if I had an agent, dammit.

Sorry, no George, will a recipe do? Did you try the cucumber slice with your G&T?

Tori Scott said...

I bid three George Clooney clones, one George Clooney original(who needs no formal training in anything since he's already perfect), a year's supply of gin, an assistant to read all snark-causing sub-standard submissions so you don't have to, and a year of free grooming for KY.

Anonymous said...

The writer ought to say that he took a few years off writing to pursue [fill in the blank here -- something absolutely fascinating and exciting]. Now he is building from [fascinating and exciting thing] and has developed new work, and is looking for respresentation.

(And yes, he can take whatever he did during his years off writing and spin it as something fascinating and exciting.)

And it's *euphemism* you semi-literate slob.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I've taken inventory. All I have that's worthwhile is a used pacifier (been drooled on and chomped by the best), a box of unused preemie sized diapers, one talkative goat, and two stale Oreos.

And my word verification code, "kaehkugn," which must be some sort of record.

I don't win, do I?

The Rejected Writer said...

I bid a native New Yorker who can find the state of Iowa on a map, an agent who doesn't drink, and an author for whom publishing is of tertiary consideration (after the simple joy of writing, and feeling good about one's self for just having actually written something).

In other words, I offer you the impossible. And I promise it will come to you gift wrapped in a cleverly-constructed box made entirely of Bombay Sapphire miniatures.

Dwight The Troubled Teen said...

I bid metaphysically clairvoyant insight into man's constant turmoil in the struggle to free himself from the inhibitions that stifle a creative philosophy...

Oh wait...

And I'll throw in a pirate satellite decoder that unscrambles the porn channel.

George - need I say more? said...

My love.

Elektra said...

This is fun--I add to my bid the user name uranitwit at WTF.com (alas, they have no E-mail)

Ms syrd said...

I bid a pleasant tropical breeze sent your way, about mid-January 2007.

I would bid a fancy-schmancy golf vacation trip for you and Killer Yap to my home island in the tropical western Pacific, but Jack Abramoff isn't available to arrange the financing. Sorry!

P.S. using my word verification-mssyrd-for id. A shortened "cute" version of Ms. Absurd-which in my case is just another way of saying clueless!

P.P.S. Tell Killer Yap that there is a lovely tropical island in Micronesia called "Yap". I'm sure he'd be treated as royalty.

Anonymous said...

If there's one thing I hate it's when I write a letter or do a job interview and never hear back from the company again. If an agent wants to avoid a big fuss, they sure as hell shouldn't do this to me.

desert snarkling said...

You could always go with "we were no longer a good match," which can mean everything from "I stopped paying attention to my use of the English language and my agent had issues with that" to "everything was fine until my agent went on that five-state killing spree, and then I decided I'd had enough."

Or you could just not mention it, until you're on the phone with a prospective new agent who's fallen in love with your manuscript, slipping it in among your questions for her just before you make sure she's not going to abandon you for a five-state killing spree, either. That would work, too.

pacatrue said...

Does the future agent need to know at all in a query letter about your pasty agent issues? I assume the old agreement wasn't obligatory representation for life. It's been several years and no one represents you at this point, right? Just send the query letter, mention your better sellers in the past, and see if the new agent is interested in your new book.

Anonymous said...

I say you tell the agent, if she asks, what you've already told us.

The genre you were working in dried up and so did your agent's 'enthusiasm' for your work. After taking some time to figure out what you should write, remembering that it should be both something you want to write and something that will sell, you're back! And have something you'd like to shop around.

Your last agent was great while the genre you were writing in did well, but when the genre started to flagg, he stopped contact with you. Emails went unanswered. "Although he sold several of my books and I have loads of respect for him for doing that, I was a little hurt by how he handled our professional relationship when my career was hurting. I'm now looking for a new agent, one who will be up front with me about my career and the expectations they have. The cold-shoulder, though sometimes appreciated on hot, sticky nights, doesn't work too well for me in business situations. Thanks for your interest, hope to hear from you soon, yada yada yada."

Nick said...

"My agent finally realized what 15% of nothing is."

"It was decided to discontinue the agent-author relationship."

"...creative differences..."

-Nick

Anonymous said...

I let my then-prospective new agent know that I was not satisfied with how my old agent had handled things. I needed someone who could get behind my work and take care of business so I could write--then I shut up and talked about the new books I had ready to sell.

Don't worry about how it's translated.

Your prospective new agent will note your level of professionalism, and the less said the better. If you explain how the old agent done you wrong it only makes you seem petty to the new one. He or she might not want to work with you if it looks like you'd discuss inside business stuff in public if and when their turn came.

When you date a new person after a breakup the last thing they want to know is how awful your ex was. You just say "It didn't work out" and move on to more important things.

Save dishing the dirt for rounds with other writers at the bar, just don't name names! ;)

LauraT said...

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies ,

I hope you win a vacation :O), I am in the same boat. I bid another pacifier, some teething rings, and the hours of sleep I haven't been using in 9 months. That should get a lot. Everyone needs more sleep.

Pixel Faerie said...

There was a mutual decision to terminate the relationship due to the swift decline of the market "I" was writing about at the time.

Or you could try: I found out he didn't like George Clooney, so I had to invoke the right to sharpen my ice skates on his rear end. >.> And he didn't like that very much...

Cause that's what happened. Yeah.

Any agent will know markets are hot one day and then absolutey not hot the next. Who ever said an author had to write in one genre anyways?

Shelli Stevens said...

My agent's mid life crisis hit pretty hard. Last I heard he/she was driving a Porsche and ignoring his clients while he/she picked up dates at the local community college.

Anonymous said...

What's to dish about the agent? As far as I can see, other than being possibly rude in your opinion, he left the parting to you.

It sucks not to be the flavor of the month, but if you're bringing in, say, $150. per year, how much of professional time and attention should that equate to? How much time does $150. (or other small amount) buy you of a lawyer/doctor/(name your profession of choice here) time?

I think he did you a favor. He allowed you a courtesy -- to drop him, thereby not making you look like the dumpee. You are changing agents. You parted ways with him. It became your choice rather than your situation, whether you liked it or not.

All you need to mention is what you wrote, when. What you wrote back then might not even be relevant (to editors) to your new project.

Your new prospective agent is (hopefully) savvy enough to understand the market literally dried up and therefore you stopped writing for a while until you got your bearings.

Brady Westwater said...

You had an agent who once represented you (very well) when you wrote in a particular genre, but now you are writing in a different but related genre and that agent no longer works with writers in your field, so you are looking for somone who does work with the type of books that you are now writing.

--E said...

Please don't forget to check the contract (if you had one) with the old agent, to be sure you have formally and legally sundered the relationship. Particularly pay attention to anything it says about subrights and representation in the future.

You never know when the genre may hot up again (or you may be an Oprah pick with your new stuff) and your new agent can resell your backlist. You want to be sure that won't create problems with the former agent.

magz said...

too late to contest.. but my bid remains open!

1 weekend of doggie debauchery for KY, rolling in horse pucky, barking from the bed of a pickup truck, chasing chickens, and housecat annoying. Buttsniffing graciously provided by the charming tag-team of hostesses, the Rott(on) Sisters. Photo ops included (for private use only; no blackmailing allowed)

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but who cares? Anybody out there care? I say, just shut up and quit crying.

Jesus! Now I need gin.

Georgia Girl

Anonymous said...

Two things: Make sure you've formally separated from your past agent (as one or more astute posters mentioned.) check your contract to make sure. Probably a simple letter of understanding, with proof of delivery.

Secondly, when querying new agent, simply say that after a hiatus (no need to explain until new agent contacts you--unless you have something you can readily use: death in family, birth of kids, whatever white-truth works) you are re-entering the market, and are seeking representation. Trust me, if new agent is interested in your work, thinks it can sell, he/she isn't going to worry about the reason up front, unless it has to do with stalking or felonious offenses.

Afterward, there will be plenty of time for explanations. You will want to be upfront with new agent.

What you don't want to do: lie about why past relationships don't work, because that might come out, and you'll be the one looking like a nitwit. And don't do public dissing (not that the original poster intended this!) You never know who you are sitting next to at a cocktail party. If someone asks you why you parted ways, think of a nice politically correct response (unless you happen to have an agent on the 20 Worst list.)

From one who has been there, done that, on agent #3, switching genres, and everything after a couple hiatuses.

Darn, and too late for the auction!!!

Anonymous said...

"The cold-shoulder, though sometimes appreciated on hot, sticky nights, doesn't work too well for me in business situations." Thanks for your interest, hope to hear from you soon, yada yada yada."

I think you should understand that your feelings were hurt, and it sounds to me you're confusing business and friendship.
The agent's job was to sell your books, and you said he did that. Until he couldn't. I'm sure he wanted to sell your books.

If he can't sell your books, what's he supposed to be emailing you or calling about? It doesn't seem so much that he was avoiding you as he had nothing to say. There's only so many times you can call and tell someone "nothing's up."

Charlie (Colorado) said...

"He died."

Chumplet said...

Hey! I didn't know the cucumber gin was in the NY Times! I got the idea from an older gentleman friend about three years ago. Very refreshing on a hot day.

I know I already bid, but you could say that maybe the agent was one that supposedly faked her own death, and then you found out she was still alive and scamming authors. No names need to be mentioned.

Elektra said...

I'm confused...are we bidding FOR a Snarkly euphemism, or is the euphemism supposed to be the bid?