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Old 02-03-2013, 12:53 AM   #1
Birdwatcher
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My Agent

Hi. My agent sent my thriller manuscript out last summer and it was rejected by 10 editors. He complained when I asked him for a submission list. I had to ask him 3 times to send the reject letters. I initiated a revision based on the responses, to which he was enthusiastic. I resubmitted in November, followed by 2 other emails, no response. I emailed to express concern. He abruptly said he was "discussing" with editors to try to generate interest, would let me know when there's feedback. That was 2 weeks ago. Shouldn't he be resubmitting to another list? Is all this normal? He's a relatively new agent in a very respected agency...not a big track record, but he seems evasive and disrespectful at times. I think the manuscript is very strong now, but hesitant to discontinue with him and start looking for a new agent. What do you think? Thank you!
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:40 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdwatcher View Post
Hi. My agent sent my thriller manuscript out last summer and it was rejected by 10 editors. He complained when I asked him for a submission list. I had to ask him 3 times to send the reject letters. I initiated a revision based on the responses, to which he was enthusiastic. I resubmitted in November, followed by 2 other emails, no response. I emailed to express concern. He abruptly said he was "discussing" with editors to try to generate interest, would let me know when there's feedback. That was 2 weeks ago. Shouldn't he be resubmitting to another list? Is all this normal? He's a relatively new agent in a very respected agency...not a big track record, but he seems evasive and disrespectful at times. I think the manuscript is very strong now, but hesitant to discontinue with him and start looking for a new agent. What do you think? Thank you!
I can only speak, of course, from my own experience, but an agent complaining about being asked for the submission list is kind of a red flag. It is your work, and you have a right to know where it's being sent. But if I understand correctly he did send you the rejections, so you did get it in the end, just after some hassle. Still, I don't think that's the greatest sign.

Second, the lack of his response to your e-mails isn't confidence inspiring either. Good communication is key, some would say it's everything.

Right between Thanksgiving and X-mas I e-mailed my agent because I was nervous I hadn't heard back from her about a revision and she got back to me with just one line, but one line that said she was swamped and apologized and that she would get back to me next week. That's all I needed. I imagine that your agent could at least do that for you as well.

You're kind of in a tough place right now because he's already gone out with your book. It has a history and a submission list of at least ten editors. I'm not saying it's impossible, but the chance of another agent wanting to take it on at this point, no matter how strong you've made it, is slim.

My advice would be to schedule a call with your agent and to raise your concerns, forcefully but respectfully and professionally.
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:56 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Birdwatcher View Post
Hi. My agent sent my thriller manuscript out last summer and it was rejected by 10 editors. He complained when I asked him for a submission list.this seems troubling

I had to ask him 3 times to send the reject letters. if they were form, there wouldn't be much to send, so that is one possibility here, although the rest still sounds sketchy

I initiated a revision based on the responses, to which he was enthusiastic. I resubmitted in November, followed by 2 other emails, no response. I emailed to express concern. He abruptly said he was "discussing" with editors to try to generate interest, would let me know when there's feedback. That was 2 weeks ago. Shouldn't he be resubmitting to another list? Is all this normal? He's a relatively new agent in a very respected agency...not a big track record, but he seems evasive and disrespectful at times. sometimes god places hire dicks. And sometimes you have the bad luck to send something to a nice guy just after his wife emails a note that she's fucking his friend, or on the day he was rear-ended on the way in, or whatever....which is to say you may have been unlucky, too, and caught him when he was short. That said, when you say "respected agency," by whom? Did you check P&E or the Backgrounds and Bewares here, or, better still, both?

I think the manuscript is very strong now, but hesitant to discontinue with him and start looking for a new agent. What do you think? Thank you!

I can't say if you should drop him. I can say I am a bit dubious, and I'd be curious where you looked him and his house up at.....maybe a spot overly generous with their praise? Maybe his work life is changing or he's not a fit with the "good" agency? Hard to say, but I agree with meems that on the surface it seems a bit off. That said, we're also only getting your story....a dozen message of "Plz, what is the status of my killer novel, 'cuz I feel like I'm getting stonewalled, dude" or other badgering could also play a role...so honest question, are you presenting an honest layout of how YOU'VE behaved as well? Not a slam on you, just experience--some people whitewash.
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Old 02-03-2013, 02:28 AM   #4
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I can't say if you should drop him. I can say I am a bit dubious, and I'd be curious where you looked him and his house up at.....maybe a spot overly generous with their praise? Maybe his work life is changing or he's not a fit with the "good" agency? Hard to say, but I agree with meems that on the surface it seems a bit off. That said, we're also only getting your story....a dozen message of "Plz, what is the status of my killer novel, 'cuz I feel like I'm getting stonewalled, dude" or other badgering could also play a role...so honest question, are you presenting an honest layout of how YOU'VE behaved as well? Not a slam on you, just experience--some people whitewash.
Great point Quicklime, about getting the whole story.

Birdwatcher, just to speak to that, it might just be that the agent has a style of working where he doesn't give you feedback at every step of the process. Some agents like to forward every rejection as it comes in and some like to get a dozen together and then send them off in one e-mail. So if you were e-mailing him every few days (I'm not saying you were), it might have set him on edge and made him a little touchy.

Then again, he might just not be a good agent.
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Old 02-03-2013, 02:38 AM   #5
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My Agent

Great suggestions, thanks. Believe me, I go back and forth with what's going on. No...I only email him about once every two months, typically. There are no red flags anywhere I can find about him. I definitely consider that he probably has ups and downs like everyone else, just not sure. I think if it continues I'll just have to have a blunt conversation regarding whether he's still interested in marketing it. I hear it's not unusual for agents to kind of lose interest after the first submission when it gets rejected.
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Old 02-03-2013, 02:48 AM   #6
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The position I'd take here is that regardless of the situation with this guy, you can't really shop this manuscript around with another agent now. (Very unlikely that someone would take it on after the initial 10 rejections.) So I'd keep working with this guy for now - maybe be a little more insistent and see what happens. If he wants to send it out again, definitely let him. You really don't have much to lose.

In the meantime, get to work on another manuscript. Don't discuss it with him or show him anything until you know what's going on with your first project. If he earns your trust back, you're good. If not, you cut ties and start looking for another agent with your new manuscript. And who knows, if you find another agent he/she might be willing to take a look at the first manuscript as well.
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Old 02-03-2013, 03:08 AM   #7
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Birdwatcher,

I understand that you likely don't want to put the agent or agency's name up here for everyone to see, but I'd like to make a suggestion that may give you more insight into both.

First, use the forum's search function to see if there's a thread for either agent or agency in Bewares, Recommendations, and Background checks. If there is, read it and see what the general consensus is. Maybe the agency is wonderful, but the agent doesn't have the necessary expertise to handle clients, yet.

Then, find victoriastrauss who is one of the people behind Writer Beware. She's a member here, and absolutely confidential with the information she's given. PM her and give her the name of both the agent and the agency; she may have heard rumblings that you aren't privy to.
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Old 02-03-2013, 03:24 AM   #8
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My Agent

Thanks, guys. Very good advice. I am tempted to stick with him...I have relative who hear about some of this and tell me I should drop him, but many non-writers don't understand about the long waits, ups and downs and sheer patience that are usually involved. Thanks for the affirmation to try to work it out. Yes, I've checked the Water Cooler for anything negative, Google, etc, and nothing comes up. However, I will indeed send VS a PM and see if she's heard anything of concern.
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Old 02-03-2013, 08:38 PM   #9
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There's also something else to consider beyond if the agent is reputable, and that is do you want this kind of working relationship? If you are fine with your agent not sharing submission information (and not all agents do), with limited communication and your emails not answered for weeks, then that is fine. I truly think for some people they prefer less hand holding. But that isn't how all agents operate. My agent keeps me posted on every submission and every editor's response. She responds day of to my emails and is always free to talk over the phone. This works for me, I kind of like to know everything that's going on.

So no, your agent might not be a scam or even bad. But if you aren't happy in this setup I would highly suggest you strongly consider finding an agent who will work with you as you would prefer. I have a friend who had an agent (a very good agent) for over a year who made her frustrated and claimed all her other writing but the one he'd signed her for wasn't marketable. She of course wondered if he had a point, felt frustrated when he would ignore evidence that he was wrong, and found herself trying to shape her writing into something it wasn't.

Eventually she left her agent and got a new one who loves her work (all of it), knows how to sell it and is far more communicative.

Anyway, my point is it can seem like authors have no choice as there are more of us than agents, but if you got one you can get another, and it's really pointless to work with someone with whom you have a strained relationship. But of course that's only something you should worry about if you indeed have one.

Just remember you have a choice.
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Old 02-03-2013, 09:15 PM   #10
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An agent who complains about sending you the submission list, and accompanying rejections, is not a good agent. This should be automatic. You shouldn't even have to ask.

It isn't about scams, it's about how good someone is at the job, and agents, just like people in any profession, are sometimes very, very good, sometimes mediocre, and sometimes lousy.

Too many writers think all agents are created equal, and that editors give all the same respect and attention. It simply isn't true. Most of the slush I've read the past few years was actually agented submissions that the editor didn't want to deal with because those particular agents seldom submit anything of quality, or are a pain in the rear to deal with. Like writers, agents have to earn respect, and have to prove they can find and submit quality manuscripts on a regular basis. Just because a manuscript comes form an agent does not mean an editor with even read it, or be the one who actually writes the rejection, even if his name is on it.

A poor agent is much worse than no agent, and even when an agent is good at what he does, if you have a poor relationship, that agent is not for you.
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Old 02-03-2013, 09:54 PM   #11
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Cool

Thanks, Toothpaste. I really appreciate your taking the time to write and think your advice is wise. It indeed really comes down to what I'm comfortable with (I wish I had your agent!). There's just an overall pattern of delayed response and comments indicating that he thinks my requests are a pain to him. I checked with two other writers he dealt with who said they decided not to sign because of long periods of nonresponse and other "red flags".

I'm pretty confident I can get another agent...on the bright side the manuscript has been through a couple of revisions and I think it's really strong and timely now. It's always daunting, once you get an agent with a respected agency, to give that up and plunge back into the unknown That said, we've all been there I'm sure, it comes with the territory.
Thanks again, and very glad to hear your agent is working out so well for you. It's inspiring...
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Old 02-04-2013, 01:01 AM   #12
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It's a shame some agents still embrace an old school 'I'm the agent, kiss my shoes and beg for info, peasant' mentality, especially when publishing as an industry is evolving so rapidly.

Luckily most agents are extremely good at what they do AND are helpful and communicative with their clients. That's what we need. And deserve!
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Old 02-04-2013, 01:22 AM   #13
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Thanks...my sentiments exactly. We're basically talking about how to respond to rudeness and a lack of professionalism, aren't we? We've worked so hard for years to get where we are, and some agents seem to have difficulty with basic courtesies. I don't understand it.
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Old 02-04-2013, 01:24 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Birdwatcher View Post
...

I'm pretty confident I can get another agent...on the bright side the manuscript has been through a couple of revisions and I think it's really strong and timely now. It's always daunting, once you get an agent with a respected agency, to give that up and plunge back into the unknown That said, we've all been there I'm sure, it comes with the territory.
...
Keep in mind that your MS now has a submission history. When you query new agents you will have to let them know that you had an agent before and your MS has already been on submission. An agent who is serious about signing you will most likely ask for a list of the publishers who have already rejected the MS. Generally, you can only get one chance to submit to each publisher.
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Old 02-04-2013, 01:31 AM   #15
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You know, that's true, but I'm not too worried about that. I had another project a few years ago. The agent left the business and I found another one and provided the list. It wasn't a very big deal and I think it's fairly common. This one has only gone out to a small list of editors so far, and there are many more out there.
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Old 02-04-2013, 02:13 AM   #16
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Birdwatcher,

The agent work for you, not the other way around.

I don't have a an agent, but some of what you describe are red flags:

Quote:
  • He complained when I asked him for a submission list.
  • I had to ask him 3 times to send the reject letters.
  • I resubmitted in November, followed by 2 other emails, no response.
  • I emailed to express concern. He abruptly said he was "discussing" with editors to try to generate interest, would let me know when there's feedback. That was 2 weeks ago.
  • He seems evasive and disrespectful at times.
Quote:
I think the manuscript is very strong now, but hesitant to discontinue with him and start looking for a new agent.
I'd follow your gut instinct if I were you.
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Old 02-04-2013, 03:15 AM   #17
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Thanks, Susan, I'm going to try. This is another *&%#ing growth experience... I have to take responsibility. I should have asked for references, and next time will for sure. I will try to be firmer with him in terms of asking for standard info and courtesies. If he stonewalls that, I think the writing is on the wall and it will be easier to break the contract and move on. It's very disappointing, but doesn't help to be in denial about it or hope it will get better on it's own.
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Old 02-04-2013, 06:12 AM   #18
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Birdwatcher, I would suggest that you check out all your agents prior to querying at Preditors and Editors, Writers Beware, and the Absolute Write Bewares Forum.

I would suggest checking this agent out at those sources, if you have not already done so.

Quote:
I have to take responsibility. I should have asked for references, and next time will for sure. I will try to be firmer with him in terms of asking for standard info and courtesies. If he stonewalls that, I think the writing is on the wall and it will be easier to break the contract and move on.
I understand, but you cannot change another person. He has stonewalled you plenty, as shown in your concerns in the original post. You need to do what's best for you, but keep in mind that this agent may not change.
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Old 02-04-2013, 06:21 AM   #19
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Thanks Susan,

That's what's so difficult about this...the agency is renowned and prestigious, and there are no red flags about this particular agent. That's why I've been so surprised at this behavior.
I'm not particularly needy or critical, as long as he's aggressively marketing the book. That's the biggest issue that concerns me, his vagueness. As I mentioned, I'm going to email him at the end of the month to touch base and ask for specifics. If he stonewalls or it seems that he has not even been sending it out, that will help to clarify a path forward.
It's a big decision, that's why I'm trying to look at all the angles. Thanks again for your input.
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:57 AM   #20
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Have you told him that you'd appreciate more information from him, or that you're finding his unresponsiveness troublesome? He might not realise how unreliable you're finding him, and could well buck up if you let him know (professionally, of course).

It's amazing how many writers don't think about just talking to their agents when they have such troubles. It can do wonders, you know.
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:11 PM   #21
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It's amazing how many writers don't think about just talking to their agents when they have such troubles. It can do wonders, you know.
That's a great point!
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:26 PM   #22
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Communication is so stupid important for all relationships, and it blows my mind when people don't do it. Yes, absolutely speak with your agent first. Express your concerns etc. If then they aren't met . . . well . . . you have a game plan .
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Old 02-05-2013, 04:04 AM   #23
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Thanks everybody. Very good suggestions.
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