Dear Miss Snark,
What advice would you give a first-time writer whose agent leaves the agency (and the profession of agenting) right after signing you up, but before your novel has sold?
My book was transferred to the desk of another associate agent who doesn't seem enthusiastic about my manuscript, and just suggested the possibility of my hiring a freelance editor. (The original agent who'd signed me up thought it was ready to go and was preparing her sub lists and cover letter.)
At the time I was querying agents, I was lucky enough to have three other offers of representation, but I picked this one on the strength of the agency's reputation and the original agent's enthusiasm. Should I ask if they'll release me from my agency contract now, and contact one of the other agents who'd offered to represent me, or should I wait and give this new agent a chance?
I'm perfectly willing to make revisions to make my manuscript as strong as possible; it's just that I'd like to work with an agent who truly believes in it, and I'm not sure she does. Help!
Thanks for any advice you can give me.
If you had three solid offers of representation for the book in its present form, I'd be hard pressed to explain why you'd want to hire an editor to look at it.
Call the head of the agency and ask to be released from your contract.
Go to the other agents who offered originally and tell them what you told me. Make sure they know the book hasn't been shopped.
The agency can NOT keep you if you don't want to be represented. You are not a slave. If you signed an agreement that doesn't have a 30-day release clause, well, now you know why you should have one.
This advice applies only when you have solid offers waiting in the wings. It might apply in other instances, but don't take this as some sort of "must".