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View Full Version : In Querying New Agent, Mention Previous?



LaneHeymont
03-05-2012, 03:56 AM
So, I'm in the process of switching agents (not exactly a process). As I query new ones should I be mentioning that I'm seeking new representation (not said agent's name of course) or is it not even worth it?

Undercover
03-05-2012, 04:04 AM
I'm on my second agent and I didn't mention anything until she gave me an offer. It's not worth mentioning to all your agent queries that you had an agent before. Not until they show an interest. Good Luck.

LaneHeymont
03-05-2012, 04:06 AM
I'm on my second agent and I didn't mention anything until she gave me an offer. It's not worth mentioning to all your agent queries that you had an agent before. Not until they show an interest. Good Luck.

Okay, thanks! :)

Filigree
03-05-2012, 04:15 AM
I second not mentioning it until they ask. I'm certainly not going to tell a new agent that I was unsuccessfully represented for X years by Agent Y, twelve years ago, and have moved on to a genre which Agent Y won't even read.

LaneHeymont
03-05-2012, 04:18 AM
I second not mentioning it until they ask. I'm certainly not going to tell a new agent that I was unsuccessfully represented for X years by Agent Y, twelve years ago, and have moved on to a genre which Agent Y won't even read.

Wow, never thought of it like that! GREAT point! :)

kaitie
03-05-2012, 05:57 AM
Are you trying to find an agent for the book being shopped, or a new one?

LaneHeymont
03-05-2012, 06:20 AM
Are you trying to find an agent for the book being shopped, or a new one?


For the new one I've written. X has the first one but has vanished, won't respond to emails or phone calls...since december.

Cyia
03-05-2012, 06:23 AM
If you have a contract or agency agreement with "X", then you might be stuck until you get/give am official termination notice.

LaneHeymont
03-05-2012, 06:32 AM
If you have a contract or agency agreement with "X", then you might be stuck until you get/give am official termination notice.


No contract, which is the only reason I've already begun querying again.

kaitie
03-05-2012, 06:42 AM
I'd still make certain that the severing of ties was communicated clearly (preferably in writing), if possible. Acting prematurely on something like this could cause trouble with a new agent as much as with the old one if things weren't clear. Also, have you checked out the agent in the B & BC section?

LaneHeymont
03-05-2012, 06:50 AM
Also, have you checked out the agent in the B & BC section?

Yeah. It seems he's been known to permanently vanish even with projects he was originally excited about.

kaitie
03-05-2012, 06:54 AM
That's insane and also sucks. :( I'm sure someone else with more knowledge than me can help, but maybe a registered letter would be your best bet if you can't get him by phone or email.

I'd just hate to think that you might sign with someone new and have problems if they didn't feel that your previous relationship had been severed properly. It would also be best if you could find out if the book has been submitted to anyone and to get a list if so.

LaneHeymont
03-05-2012, 07:04 AM
That's insane and also sucks. :( I'm sure someone else with more knowledge than me can help, but maybe a registered letter would be your best bet if you can't get him by phone or email.

I'd just hate to think that you might sign with someone new and have problems if they didn't feel that your previous relationship had been severed properly. It would also be best if you could find out if the book has been submitted to anyone and to get a list if so.

It is pretty crazy. I have emailed asking about submissions...a few times with no response. I started some short stories, emailed to see if I should pass them on to him or if I should submit to magazines myself with no response.

I'm thinking if I get an offer I'll send a registered letter. Does that sound legit?

Giant Baby
03-05-2012, 07:13 AM
I'd just hate to think that you might sign with someone new and have problems if they didn't feel that your previous relationship had been severed properly. It would also be best if you could find out if the book has been submitted to anyone and to get a list if so.

For me, this is the thing. You really do want that submission list. Even though you're querying a different book, which is good, it's important to know where your work has been. Best case scenario is that he's not been subbing it anywhere, despite his claims, and you now have two books with fresh starts. But, without that list, you can't know.

And I would try phoning at this point, if you haven't. I also agree with sending a registered letter officially severing the business relationship (whether or not you reach him by phone). Even though you don't have a contract, this is a really small industry, and it can't hurt you to do things the right way. It can only hurt you not to.

ETA: Just saw your post since I started drafting. Agents rarely deal in short stories. And, if you're querying new agents, you need to be done with this one first. Clean break, finished. You can't have both.

kaitie
03-05-2012, 07:16 AM
It is pretty crazy. I have emailed asking about submissions...a few times with no response. I started some short stories, emailed to see if I should pass them on to him or if I should submit to magazines myself with no response.

I'm thinking if I get an offer I'll send a registered letter. Does that sound legit?

Well, even searching beforehand can be viewed as a negative. I mean, so much about the agent/author relationship is trust, and no agent wants to sign with someone if they think that person might go behind their back and search for a new agent. The offering agent might understand, but they might also see it as inappropriate.

I think it's best to get the affairs with the current agent settled 100% before sending out any more queries. That way you know you're safe, and really waiting a little while longer won't hurt.

ETA: You mention asking about how subs are going and short stories, but have you actually written to the agent to say "We need to discuss our arrangement" or "rethinking this relationship" or something like that? I think at the very least you should send an email that says you are unhappy and would like to terminate the relationship. If you haven't said that, it could take him by surprise because he may not even realize you're unhappy.

LaneHeymont
03-05-2012, 07:22 AM
Well, even searching beforehand can be viewed as a negative. I mean, so much about the agent/author relationship is trust, and no agent wants to sign with someone if they think that person might go behind their back and search for a new agent. The offering agent might understand, but they might also see it as inappropriate.

I think it's best to get the affairs with the current agent settled 100% before sending out any more queries. That way you know you're safe, and really waiting a little while longer won't hurt.

ETA: You mention asking about how subs are going and short stories, but have you actually written to the agent to say "We need to discuss our arrangement" or "rethinking this relationship" or something like that? I think at the very least you should send an email that says you are unhappy and would like to terminate the relationship. If you haven't said that, it could take him by surprise because he may not even realize you're unhappy.

Good points. I emailed him yesterday so I'll wait a couple days and email about my concerns. Sounds good?

kaitie
03-05-2012, 07:28 AM
Yeah, sounds good. As long as you hold off on the querying until later. That's the sort of thing that can really come back to bite you in the butt, so I just want to make sure you are covered.

LaneHeymont
03-05-2012, 07:33 AM
Yeah, sounds good. As long as you hold off on the querying until later. That's the sort of thing that can really come back to bite you in the butt, so I just want to make sure you are covered.

Definitely. I only queried 4 agents and will hold off till I reach him (if not) then send a registered letter. Annoying, but best to do things right. Thanks Kaitie. Thanks all!

ink wench
03-05-2012, 05:03 PM
A lot of good advice on the contract/switching issues, so I'll just add a dissenting viewpoint to your original question. I'd say mention you're seeking new rep.

I asked several agents about this after I split with my first, and all but one said to mention in you query if you'd been previously repped - that it worked in your favor. They understand things don't always work out, so they don't hold it against you. But previous rep suggests to them that you can write, and they'll take a closer look at your material.

I had about a 40% request rate on my query and eventually 5 five offers, so it certainly didn't hurt me to have mentioned it.

Filigree
03-05-2012, 05:54 PM
In my case, I'm not mentioning it. I split with my agent back in 1999, he never sold anything of mine, and most of the editors he shopped my work to have moved on from their Big Six houses. Plus, my work has improved since then.

LaneHeymont
03-05-2012, 07:24 PM
In my case, I'm not mentioning it. I split with my agent back in 1999, he never sold anything of mine, and most of the editors he shopped my work to have moved on from their Big Six houses. Plus, my work has improved since then.

Question is if you were in my situation...mention it or no?

Giant Baby
03-05-2012, 07:41 PM
Question is if you were in my situation...mention it or no?

In my opinion, that's really hard to advise at this stage (for someone who doesn't advise against it, across the board, and I definitely don't). I mention it in my queries, because when agents ask what happened with my former agent (and they do), I'm able to respond truthfully about why we parted and it's all fine and reasonable.

Until you actually part with your agent, it's impossible to know what your end result is going to look like. Maybe it will be helpful to include, maybe it won't. This feels very cart before the horse. I strongly advise you to track down your current agent and have a serious conversation.

New agents will not look kindly on a client who queried them before they'd left their previous representation. What would inspire them to trust that you won't do the same to them while they're trying to shop your book? Your agent's lack of communication will no longer be the point, your behavior will.

It's a big decision. I really, really advise you to try to talk to your agent first. Make sure he hasn't been sick, or experiencing computer malfunctions. The signs don't look great, but still.

priceless1
03-05-2012, 08:05 PM
Have you considered making a clean break from your current agent? Is he still querying your work? The reason I ask is because I've had this same conversation with several of my agent friends, and they won't even consider taking on a client who is currently represented because it looks a bit like author poaching. So you could be sabotaging your efforts by querying while still represented.

You have the option of not mentioning your current representation in your query letters, but what will a new agent's reaction be if you tell her after she accepts you as a client? She'll feel like she's been lied to. This has happened to me - where authors fail to mention their books were previously published. When I find that out - because I google them - I feel like I've been lied to by omission. Thankfully, this doesn't happen after I signed them because I vet potential offers very closely. Agents don't always do this.

Your other choice is to never reveal that you were previously represented, which is also fraught with peril because your new agent may query the same editors - who will inform her they've already rejected this before. This will make your agent very sore at you for lying, and may dump you.

As Giant Baby said, you need that submission list from your current agent, and he should absolutely send it to you. And then you might want to consider whether to make the break fromhim - and you can only know what to do by talking to your current agent and coming to some agreement.

kaitie
03-05-2012, 08:13 PM
Giant Baby--it's going to come up anyway, though. I mean, whether it's a clean break or not, before accepting any offers it would have to be discussed. I think it could be phrased in such a way as to not be overly negative ("We had differences in communication styles" for instance) that wouldn't be agent bashing.

I've heard the same thing as Ink Wench, that it's good to mention. At the very least, I'd mention it at the full stage. I'd almost worry that it would come across as trying to hide something to not mention it until later.

Besides, it shows that your work is up there in quality because someone else had represented you before, right?

LaneHeymont
03-05-2012, 08:28 PM
As Giant Baby said, you need that submission list from your current agent, and he should absolutely send it to you. And then you might want to consider whether to make the break fromhim - and you can only know what to do by talking to your current agent and coming to some agreement.

I'm beginning to think I should just email him right away. Also I have a feeling he hasn't submitted it anywhere, because he asked for a short synopsis to send with the mss., but I have to admit what I sent him was not my best...so I think that turned the tide against me.

kaitlin008
03-05-2012, 08:28 PM
I think you're getting great advice on the issue of making the split from your current agent, but to your original question: like Inkwench, I mentioned that I had been previously represented when I queried. I also made it clear that the work I was querying had not been shopped by the previous agent. I don't have any idea if it helped to have it in there, but it sure didn't hurt.

Giant Baby
03-05-2012, 09:51 PM
Giant Baby--it's going to come up anyway, though. I mean, whether it's a clean break or not, before accepting any offers it would have to be discussed. I think it could be phrased in such a way as to not be overly negative ("We had differences in communication styles" for instance) that wouldn't be agent bashing.

I've heard the same thing as Ink Wench, that it's good to mention. At the very least, I'd mention it at the full stage. I'd almost worry that it would come across as trying to hide something to not mention it until later.

Besides, it shows that your work is up there in quality because someone else had represented you before, right?

As I said, I also mention it in my queries. I think it's usually helpful. The question, though, is whether you want the question, "what happened with your former agent" to come up before they've read your material, or after (when there is hopefully some investment).

Until lweinberg's situation with his/her agent is settled, it's honestly hard to say. Could be that it'll make more sense to bring it up only with interested agents. It's not hiding anything not to mention it up front in the quert. As you can see from this thread, there isn't any set rule about this.

LaneHeymont
03-05-2012, 10:03 PM
As I said, I also mention it in my queries. I think it's usually helpful. The question, though, is whether you want the question, "what happened with your former agent" to come up before they've read your material, or after (when there is hopefully some investment).

Until lweinberg's situation with his/her agent is settled, it's honestly hard to say. Could be that it'll make more sense to bring it up only with interested agents. It's not hiding anything not to mention it up front in the quert. As you can see from this thread, there isn't any set rule about this.

I'm holding off on queries until I reconnect with said agent, but don't know if I should email him today...two days....next week. I had emailed him saturday, and being a relative noob...my judgement is a little skewed in that area.

Old Hack
03-05-2012, 10:54 PM
Before you ditch your current agent you really should try to talk through with him all the issues that you have. He might not even be aware that you're concerned, and not only is it reasonable to give him a chance to address your worries, it's sensible: it might be that he thought you were happy with the way things were, and once he knows that you're not he could change his ways to make sure you get what you want.

I am amazed by the number of times I've seen writers look for new representation without even letting their agents know they're unhappy first.

If he won't talk to you, and doesn't answer your emails and so on, then your first step has to be to sever your relationship with him. Do so in writing, even if you don't have an official written contract with him; give him reasonable notice (between 30 and 90 days is usually fine, with the longer time period being more common) and ask for a list of all submissions he's made on your behalf.

Once your notice period has expired you can start looking for a new agent, but not before. Well, you can: but it's best to be seen to behave extremely well in this situation, just in case. I was talking to a UK agent about this just yesterday, and while many writers don't ditch their old agents until they've found themselves a new one it's much appreciated by the new agents if they do that first: it shows a more ethical approach and can only score you brownie points.

LaneHeymont
03-06-2012, 03:50 AM
Before you ditch your current agent you really should try to talk through with him all the issues that you have. He might not even be aware that you're concerned, and not only is it reasonable to give him a chance to address your worries, it's sensible: it might be that he thought you were happy with the way things were, and once he knows that you're not he could change his ways to make sure you get what you want.

I am amazed by the number of times I've seen writers look for new representation without even letting their agents know they're unhappy first.

If he won't talk to you, and doesn't answer your emails and so on, then your first step has to be to sever your relationship with him. Do so in writing, even if you don't have an official written contract with him; give him reasonable notice (between 30 and 90 days is usually fine, with the longer time period being more common) and ask for a list of all submissions he's made on your behalf.

Once your notice period has expired you can start looking for a new agent, but not before. Well, you can: but it's best to be seen to behave extremely well in this situation, just in case. I was talking to a UK agent about this just yesterday, and while many writers don't ditch their old agents until they've found themselves a new one it's much appreciated by the new agents if they do that first: it shows a more ethical approach and can only score you brownie points.

I plan to email him...Wednesday? That'll be 4 days since I last emailed him. Mind you I've only been emailing him every 3 weeks or so...maybe a little less.

LaneHeymont
03-06-2012, 07:14 PM
Just sent in an email that reads as thus:


Dear Agent X

I haven't heard from in a little under three months. I'm curious as to our situation as you've not responded to a number of business related emails. Should I consider this an amicable parting? I hope to hear from you soon.

Best wishes,

Client X

Thoughts? Though I should have posted this here first! Dang my ADD!

LaneHeymont
03-06-2012, 09:19 PM
Don't want to double post and thus reveal agent x. But it seems he's been suffering major health issues and is focusing on an e-venture. So, we parted ways due to his health, and will see where we both are when and if he gets better/back into agenting. Now I kinda feel like a jackanapes. But, in my queries, I can say I'm seeking new representation due to my agent's health/stepping back from agenting.

Giant Baby
03-06-2012, 09:27 PM
Don't want to double post and thus reveal agent x. But it seems he's been suffering major health issues and is focusing on an e-venture. So, we parted ways due to his health, and will see where we both are when and if he gets better/back into agenting. Now I kinda feel like a jackanapes. But, in my queries, I can say I'm seeking new representation due to my agent's health/stepping back from agenting.

I'm sorry to hear about his health, but there's nothing wrong with how you proceeded. You needed this information. And, to be honest, if he's not currently "into agenting", his clients should have been informed.

Did you find out whether he'd sent your book out at all? Hopefully not, but if he did, that list is still really important. He should be happy to provide you with this information.

Good luck!

LaneHeymont
03-06-2012, 09:33 PM
He hasn't sent it anywhere...nor opened any of the said attachments I sent him, including both my poor synopsis and my better synopsis. So, yeah, but I wished him the best and really hopes he gets better!

Thanks Giant Baby! (name btw lol)

What's really too bad is I had an offer for a $2,500 advance from a small press. Though having seen some posts from said publisher, I still may have dodged a bullet

MKrys
03-10-2012, 02:19 AM
The Bookends LLC blog just covered this topic a few weeks ago. For what it's worth, here's the link:

http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/2012/01/seeking-new-representation.html

LaneHeymont
03-10-2012, 02:25 AM
The Bookends LLC blog just covered this topic a few weeks ago. For what it's worth, here's the link:

http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/2012/01/seeking-new-representation.html

Oh wow, thanks! Never even thought of mentioning it hadn't been shopped yet!