Now what

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".


Unknown said...

I had the same thing happen to me at CAA and the new agent they tried to assign me to put me to sleep selling himself to me - and I had brought them a TV pilot I had already sold!.

Listen to Miss Snark and find an agent who is in love with your work and hwo knows how to convey that.

Anonymous said...

New writers should also realize you hear of this sort of thing every now and then, and it's not uncommon. New associates don't usually make much money and unless they can secure a few good deals in the first year they start looking for realistic financial options (just like writers). This is especially true in Manhattan where the cost of living is ridiculous. There are agency owners literally worth millions (always on the sly, too. To listen to them you'd think they were paupers; but they pay more to fly in private jets than they pay the associates per year). You really can't blame the associate; it's a real life Cinderella story for some of them.

I have a strange feeling I know the associate your talking about, and the agency. Tough break, but don't hesitate to move on as nicely and quickly as possible to secure your own future. These people won't lose any sleep over you, trust me on that.

Anonymous said...

Hey Miss Snark, speaking of things in an agent contract - do you have a short list of things that often appear in contracts, but shouldn't? And things that are often left out that an author should insist upon?

Kimber Li said...

Oh, wow, what a drag for that to happen after all the work you went through to secure just the right representation. Nevertheless, such is life. Best wishes in finding new representation.