View Full Version : How Often Does This Happen?

08-31-2006, 09:10 AM
It's an uncomfortable scenario to imagine, but I've heard about cases where agents simply "dump" their clients without word or warning. I suppose they may do so for any number of reasons. Perhaps they've discovered the writer is a problematic personality (i.e., nudges about their status too much, or demands too much) or maybe because they've decided the writer's work just isn't going to be profitable enough. It would seem to me, however, that just as writers are expected to do the courteous thing and give advance written notice, agents should likewise be held accountable in this regard. I read somewhere (perhaps it was a post on this forum) that the reason agents do this is because they know the client will just make "too much of a stink" about it if they make the initiative, so they simply stop returning calls and emails, basically eliminating all correspondence, in hopes that said writer will eventually "get the hint" and take the initiative upon themselves to officially end the relationship.

However, this could potentially leave a poor writer hanging in the lurch for months on end, waiting it out because they think, in good faith, that their agent is working on their behalf, when in fact they are getting the shaft. It seems like such an incredibly cold and cruel--not to mention unprofessional-- practice, and I can't imagine why any legitimate agency would do this to a client, no matter how bad the relationship.

I'm just curious to know how common this practice is, and if anyone has had this experience? Are there any red flag warnings, aside from lack of communication, that a writer should be alert to? It seems it would be strange to just call or email out of the blue and say, "Hey, am I still a client or not?" Is there no set industry standard for agents who decide to dismiss their clients?

08-31-2006, 08:35 PM
I think (and in my personal experience) this happens often, especially if your book either doesn't sell or doesn't get accepted after a few tries.

When you're hot, they'll always return your calls, when you're not, it's not that they dump you, but you move off the radar. Suddenly your next book or next proposal is too problematic to deal with.

The only way to know if you're still a client is to confront the issue if you start feeling neglected. If you never get a call or an email back or an answer to your detailed letter, then you're pretty much in the dumpster.

If you do get a call, then maybe this relationship can be saved. If you score a movie deal on the novel, you can bet the relationship can be saved.

I also know of some published writers who haven't written in years, but they still have an agent. No harm keeping you on the list if nobody has to bother with you, year in and year out.

So, to sum up, it seems that "no answer" is gaining in popularity as the answer of choice.

09-01-2006, 03:06 AM
It should never, ever happen, and there should, in fact, be a contract that stipulates how breakups go for both sides. A good agent never drops a client without plenty of notice. Nor should a writer ever dump an agent without notice.