Your agent sux

I signed with an agent over a year ago. She supposedly sent out my piece to 12 editors. I never got a sub schedule. Supposedly, she's never heard back from any of them. (It's been 9 months) I asked her for the sub sched recently and she's ignoring me. Generally, it's hard getting her to return my emails or calls. What's your take on this? How should I proceed? No name -- to protect an already fragile agent/client relationship

What relationship? That would imply a give and take, or communication, or ... yanno, cooperation.

You don't have an agent. You have someone tying up your work and treating you like you don't matter. That's crap.

You are a client, you have the right (if not the obligation) to ask where you work has been, and what's been said about it. Normally I can tell you in five seconds what EXACTLY is going on with your work. (I may not be able to explain why it hasn't sold, but I can give you the basic rundown on who/what/where) Sometimes, if I'm busy, or over worked, and haven't gotten caught up on my notes, I'm a day or two behind. Very, very rarely much more than that because I have to know what's going on with your stuff so I can sell it. Every other agent I know is exactly like this.

And the idea that not one editor has responded after nine months means someone isn't doing her job. Since it's not your job to call editors...that leaves her.

You need to have a talk with this slacker ass agent and you need to start looking for a new one. Not necessarily in that order.


Writerious said...

Please say you didn't pay this agent a "reading fee" or any other upfront fees (though if that were the case it would explain why she's not in any hurry to actually sell manuscripts, not if she can get money from authors).

Anonymous said...

Been there, done that, with an agent who charged up-front for copying and postage, then never reported results. That left me wondering whether he had ever sent anything at all, or whether he had any sort of relationships with editors. The worst part was, he could never spell my name right. All right, I was an idiot, but I was a newbie writer--and I dumped him last year. Still looking for a new one, though. Yes, yes, no agent is better than a bad agent, right? Thank you for letting us know that an agent should treat clients like the needy human beings they are, and communicate!

Irish Traveller said...

I'm completely ignorant to these things, but just how the heck DOES someone get an agent in the first place?

My sister has been trying to get an agent (albeit for screenplays) forever and they always say (after reading one of her samples) that they can sell her stuff, but what else does she have?

Are they looking for utter and complete shlock or quality?

JerseyGirl said...

I remember clicking on a link to a writer who dumped, I think, 4 or 5 agents in the space of 6 or 7 months (might've been less than or more than that). Problem is, I can't remember the url or the name of the writer! Ack!

Anyway, although this seems to me like an extreme example, it shows that there's no reason a writer has to feel they're forever "married" to one agent.


Dejah said...

A fairly reputable NY agency treated me like this agent is treating you. They tied my work up for a whole year--6 months after they stopped taking my calls and answering my emails. When I complained about being treated like a mushcroom, they dumped me with a "we've done everything we can for you."

Uh... Bull-dinky!

Save yourself some time and agony, if they aren't answering your emails or phone calls, consider yourself dumped right now and go looking for new representation before you really are agentless again.

Termagant 2 said...

Holy guacamole, Batman. Sounds like you had my ex-agent.

He sent one MS (just one, though I had quite a few others) to 8 houses, I think it was. I got feedback from 5, but only because I pestered him for the "no-thanks" letters. One sent a form letter, no input, so that one didn't help me hone the MS. Another was a verbal, so that didn't do much, either. The others were specific, but I had to beg him for them. The others, about which I queried him repeatedly, were either "lost" or "the editor left that house" or some such other twaddle. That makes a no-show rate of a bit over 30%. Not exactly stellar, and everytime he did get some communication, I had to resort to multiple e-mails to get it.

Bear in mind, however: this is/was a LEGIT AGENCY. They do not charge reading or submission fees, or any other junk fees. The whole venture cost me $12 for copying/postage, which I figure is reasonable.

Even a legit agency can house a non-performing agent, which is what I now consider him.


Anonymous said...

Why, why, why do legit agents do this??? Why do they express enthusiasm for a project, send the contract, then disappear? Why can't they just say, "I've changed my mind. I'm overworked. I'm tired of this project. Go away." I'd rather know I'm dumped than sit around wondering, WTF?

So far, I've been lucky. My legit NY agent sent my work out the door the day he signed me, and sends me copies of editor rejections. But I'm already thinking that if I get turned down by the first six houses, he'll probably dump me. Cynical? Yeah. But I like to be prepared for the worst.

Anonymous said...

This sounds scarily familiar. But what can one do if one's agent has supposedly sent out one's manuscript? Will other agents be reluctant to touch the project if the writer seeks new representation? Does the writer just have to write a new book, try to find a new agent, and THEN mention the one that the slacker agent sent out? What does Miss Snark advise? And how does one go about getting a new agent before firing the old one? Does thew writer tell the prospective new agent whom she's looking to leave and why?

wonderer said...

irish traveller,

At the risk of sounding too obvious, agents for screenplays are not the same thing as literary agents (i.e., for books). Since Miss Snark is the latter, you won't get much help on her blog regarding the former.

I don't know much, either, but I can make educated guesses. Of the agents who say they can sell your sister's stuff...are they wanting a different sort of screenplay, or the assurance that she can write more screenplays? Your post wasn't clear. If they want more, she should write more. If they want a different kind, maybe she's looking in the wrong market (e.g., Hollywood vs. indie). Good luck to her!

3rd anon,

Miss Snark has covered the answers to your questions before. Read the Snarkives. Good luck!