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Quickbread
09-18-2013, 12:29 AM
My agent was supposed to send my manuscript out on submission at the end of May. He sent me the sub list, and that was the last I heard from him, despite a couple of follow-up emails since by me. So I don't know the status of my manuscript.

Meanwhile, I checked the agency's website today, like I do every few weeks, and he's no longer listed on the team, despite being president and founder. In fact, no team is listed at all anymore, just one other agent. And on my agent's Twitter profile, he no longer lists his agency's name or URL. His transition would explain the silence, which is a relief, but what should I do next?

The contract I signed was with the agency, and it doesn't expire until March '14 (although I never received a signed copy back from them for some reason). Since my agent was the president, I didn't bother worrying about what would happen if he left. Is there a standard protocol I should follow now?

Pamvhv
09-18-2013, 01:02 AM
My agent was supposed to send my manuscript out on submission at the end of May. He sent me the sub list, and that was the last I heard from him, despite a couple of follow-up emails since by me. So I don't know the status of my manuscript.

Meanwhile, I checked the agency's website today, like I do every few weeks, and he's no longer listed on the team, despite being president and founder. In fact, no team is listed at all anymore, just one other agent. And on my agent's Twitter profile, he no longer lists his agency's name or URL. His transition would explain the silence, which is a relief, but what should I do next?

The contract I signed was with the agency, and it doesn't expire until March '14 (although I never received a signed copy back from them for some reason). Since my agent was the president, I didn't bother worrying about what would happen if he left. Is there a standard protocol I should follow now?


Wow, this is a horrible situation to be in. The very first thing you need to do is go to the remaining agent/partner and try to find out if the book has been submitted. Then you can speak with him/her about whether they will continue representing your work and if you even want them to do so. With this kind of upset they may let you out of your contract and free you up to query elsewhere. But to query elsewhere you really need to know if your book was on sub and where.

Quickbread
09-18-2013, 01:55 AM
Thanks for your response, Pam.

Do you think it might be worth me reaching out to my agent first (via some other email address) and asking him about the submission status?

I think he's an overall decent guy who's moving in another direction in publishing, away from agenting. At least it seems so from his Twitter feed and conference activities.

Pamvhv
09-18-2013, 02:37 AM
Thanks for your response, Pam.

Do you think it might be worth me reaching out to my agent first (via some other email address) and asking him about the submission status?

I think he's an overall decent guy who's moving in another direction in publishing, away from agenting. At least it seems so from his Twitter feed and conference activities.

He may answer if you have another email for him! If he doesn't then go to the remaining agent.

RKLipman
09-18-2013, 03:16 AM
I am coming out of long-time lurk mode to chime in, but this is awful and I'm so sorry it happened to you.


Thanks for your response, Pam.

Do you think it might be worth me reaching out to my agent first (via some other email address) and asking him about the submission status?

I think he's an overall decent guy who's moving in another direction in publishing, away from agenting. At least it seems so from his Twitter feed and conference activities.

Frankly, I wouldn't. He may be a decent guy but if he has left the agency and the business without notifying his clients, he's enormously unprofessional and doesn't have your interests at heart.

I'd say go through the remaining partner because everything you do from this point forward needs to be above-board and ON RECORD. Let the partner deal with the ex-agent; if the agent in question can't or won't provide a submission list, then you take appropriate next steps.

If he does, then you got what you needed. Either way, hopefully you can get out of the contract quickly and painlessly.

Agents leaving the business happens - it's part of life! Agents leaving in a hugely unprofessional manner without notifying their clients or providing sub lists also happens, sadly, and is about the schmuckiest thing they can do. If nothing else, the other partner should have notified you (and other clients) as soon as he knew what's up.

I'd be very, very wary about working with the agency in question any further.

Quickbread
09-18-2013, 07:52 PM
Thanks for coming out of lurkdom, RK. What you said makes good sense to me.

I went with what you and Pam suggested and contacted the other partner. He responded first thing this morning and said the transition plan had been limited to clients for whom my agent had sold work. He isn't interested in this particular novel (doesn't do ghost stories) but would be happy to consider future work from me. He said he'll release me immediately from the contract if that's what I want, but that I'd have to email my agent directly for the submission details.

So I'll email him today. Hopefully he will respond this time!

Parametric
09-18-2013, 08:07 PM
He responded first thing this morning and said the transition plan had been limited to clients for whom my agent had sold work.

Does the agency seriously not even plan to contact the departing agent's clients to tell them of his departure unless their books have sold? :Wha:

usuallycountingbats
09-18-2013, 08:17 PM
Does the agency seriously not even plan to contact the departing agent's clients to tell them of his departure unless their books have sold? :Wha:

And more than that, do they seriously not have a list of what he subbed where? This is absolutely not the way to run any kind of business which involves clients. Mine would (rightly) hit the roof if something like this happened with my company (nothing to do with publishing).

This is utterly unacceptable - it was always drummed into me that when dealing with clients you need to have everything in such good order that if you get hit by a bus someone else can take on those clients with the minimum of fuss.

Can I recommend that once you have this resolved you post something in the Bewares (etc because I can't remember the full name!) forum.

Sheryl Nantus
09-18-2013, 09:16 PM
I'm more concerned you never got a signed copy of your contract back.

Is this agency listed in the Bewares forum? Doesn't sound too professional to me...

Terie
09-18-2013, 10:38 PM
Does the agency seriously not even plan to contact the departing agent's clients to tell them of his departure unless their books have sold? :Wha:

This is pretty much what happened to me (and apparently to others in the same boat) when my then-agent (same as the OP's case, the head of the agency) died. If I hadn't seen here that he died, I would probably never have found out otherwise.

ETA: It's perfectly understandable that agencies drop authors without deals when an agent departs, especially if the agent is the head of the firm. It is, after all, a chaotic situation. It's the failure to let the dropped authors know in a reasonable time-frame that bothers me.

Quickbread
09-19-2013, 12:34 AM
Agreed, Terie about no notification being the worst part. Luckily I check in pretty frequently, but if I didn't, it could've been many months before I learned he'd left. Sorry you lost an agent that way. Sounds awful.

I haven't posted anything in the Bewares section yet but will consider this a bit down the road after the dust settles. To be honest, there are some tales of unresponsiveness or flakiness peppered in the agency's listing, mostly related to my agent, but I went ahead with him anyway because I talked to two of his writers, who both recommended him in spite of his flakiness. The firm seems legitimate, checks out on Preditors and has made many sales to Big 5/6 houses, some notable, with my agent being the main dealmaker.

At least I have his submission list, and it's 14 names. Could be worse right? Presuming they've all been pitched, is that too many editors for another agent to be interested? (The genre is literary fiction.)

I emailed him today with a polite but firm request for this info, but I'm not holding my breath; I also wished him luck in his new venture cuz I'm like that.

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION:
I have a workshop coming up with one of the editors from that submission list. I've been wondering how to tactfully ask her whether he ever pitched her. Now that he's not my agent, is there any harm in simply explaining the situation and asking her directly? I'll have a one-on-one conference with her where I could ask privately. Thoughts?

waylander
09-19-2013, 01:10 AM
The editor will be aware that your (ex)agent has quit and word about the mess will have got around. If you explain briefly that you are trying to fill in the gaps in the submission history, I would expect them to be sympathetic.

triceretops
09-19-2013, 01:16 AM
Just hope it works out for you. Terrible situation to be in. You're kind of left hanging by your nails.

tri:Hug2:

Siri Kirpal
09-19-2013, 02:22 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I'd say it would be fine to talk with the editor about it.

And I hope your book finds a good home despite the horrific stumbling blocks your erstwhile agent dropped on you.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Putputt
09-19-2013, 02:35 AM
At least I have his submission list, and it's 14 names. Could be worse right? Presuming they've all been pitched, is that too many editors for another agent to be interested? (The genre is literary fiction.)

I emailed him today with a polite but firm request for this info, but I'm not holding my breath; I also wished him luck in his new venture cuz I'm like that.

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION:
I have a workshop coming up with one of the editors from that submission list. I've been wondering how to tactfully ask her whether he ever pitched her. Now that he's not my agent, is there any harm in simply explaining the situation and asking her directly? I'll have a one-on-one conference with her where I could ask privately. Thoughts?

My first agent submitted my MS to 13 editors. When I started querying again for a new agent, several agents asked for the list and backed out after seeing it, which was admittedly pretty depressing. But I also got a healthy amount of interest and, in time, several offers, so it's not the kiss of death.

In your position, I would ask the editor if he ever subbed to her. It doesn't strike me as inappropriate or anything. Good luck with it!

Quickbread
09-19-2013, 03:10 AM
So the partner just emailed saying he'll free me from any obligations in regard to the representation agreement. Does that mean that even if my agent initiated contact with an editor, a new agent could close the deal and I'd have no obligation with the first agency?

Should I ask for something in writing for the contract release, or is his email statement enough?

Terie
09-19-2013, 01:47 PM
I think an email statement is enough. It's a document in itself, dated and everything. Written proof and of who said it too.

Erm, why are you giving out legal advice? If you're not a lawyer, you don't actually know if this is true, and if you are a lawyer, you should know not to give legal advice on the web.

Quickbread
09-19-2013, 02:18 PM
I guess rather than legal advice, I'm looking for whether it's standard for agents to let an author out of a contract via email statement or if it's not how things are usually done.

Terie
09-19-2013, 02:23 PM
I guess rather than legal advice, I'm looking for whether it's standard for agents to let an author out of a contract via email statement or if it's not how things are usually done.

It should be in the terms of your contract.

Old Hack
09-19-2013, 08:29 PM
Oops, I didn't mean it to sound like my advice was the absolute. I said "I think"...I should have probably stressed more by saying that I'm not completely 100% sure on that. But it has always worked for me in the past and have never run into a problem.

And I believe you can use an email as evidence in a court of law, but it depends. You might have to go through the process of authenticating it, depending on what's admissible or not.

I was just speaking from my own experience. Sorry I didn't make that clear.

If anyone is interested in reading more on, here's an article on Authenticating Email as evidence: http://www.depo.com/resources/aa_thediscoveryupdate/authenticating_email.html

My bold.

You apologise for giving legal advice, and then go on to give some more!

Undercover, you're not a lawyer. You could get yourself, the OP, and AW into serious legal trouble if anyone were to act on the advice you've given here. Please be more careful.

Quickbread
09-19-2013, 08:51 PM
It should be in the terms of your contract.

This particular circumstance is not covered by the contract, even tangentially, as far as I read it.

Undercover
09-19-2013, 10:05 PM
My bold.

You apologise for giving legal advice, and then go on to give some more!

Undercover, you're not a lawyer. You could get yourself, the OP, and AW into serious legal trouble if anyone were to act on the advice you've given here. Please be more careful.

Done. No more of that then.

Jamiekswriter
09-19-2013, 10:42 PM
Quickbread - do you have a phone number for the agency? I know we're drilled in not to call, but if you are(were) a client and it might be the fastest way to reach them and get things settled.

Quickbread
09-19-2013, 11:36 PM
Hi, Jamie. Thanks for your thoughts. The agency partner has been quite responsive, emailing me back within hours. I've decided to have a publishing attorney draw up a termination letter to make it official. The partner agreed to esign something if I have it drawn up. (Why they don't have a release letter at the agency already, I don't know and don't care at this point. I just want to protect myself because I believe in my manuscript.)

For those reading, I did talk to a lawyer friend of mine today, who said a written and signed release is in my best interests. She said there are many situations in which an informal email releasing me may not protect me. For example, what if my current agent came back to the agency and, as the original founder and president, claimed that the partner had no legal grounds for releasing me? He could try to argue in court that the email is not a binding contract release. My friend said that at least a contract is an official legal document and, as such, is more difficult to argue as non-binding. So don't take that for legal advice for any situation, but I'm going to be safe and cover myself legally as well as possible. (And Old Hack, if that's inappropriate to post, please let me know, and I'll delete it. :) )

I'll try calling my agent directly to get the submission list, but I wouldn't put it past him to send me to voicemail and not return the call. He's been 100% unresponsive since I've been asking about the submission.

This has been such a good education. I guess I needed it. Onward and upward.

Quickbread
10-01-2013, 12:41 AM
Reviving this thread just to ask a couple follow-up questions about the submission process.

I was finally able to reach my now-former agent on the phone, and we had a gracious and warm break-up conversation. He said he submitted my novel to four editors. Two have since left publishing, and two have switched houses. Of the latter, one editor moved to a house that doesn't publish my genre, so he said only one house would need to be approached sensitively by my next agent due to the fourth editor being there now. So my question is: Really? Is that how it works? If so, that's great news for me.

He also said that my manuscript isn't entered in logs or registries as having been through the system at any houses, so all four editors' imprints at the time of reading are still open to me. My question here is also: Really? Do editors really do informal reads without logging the manuscript in a database?

Old Hack
10-01-2013, 10:41 AM
He said he submitted my novel to four editors. Two have since left publishing, and two have switched houses. Of the latter, one editor moved to a house that doesn't publish my genre, so he said only one house would need to be approached sensitively by my next agent due to the fourth editor being there now. So my question is: Really? Is that how it works? If so, that's great news for me.

He also said that my manuscript isn't entered in logs or registries as having been through the system at any houses, so all four editors' imprints at the time of reading are still open to me. My question here is also: Really? Do editors really do informal reads without logging the manuscript in a database?

These two paragraphs are almost asking the same thing.

Most publishers keep lists of the submissions they receive. So an editor having left a specific publisher, or having left publishing all together, doesn't make all memory of the submission disappear: it just means that the person who rejected it is no longer there to explain why.

If the publishers your ms was submitted to keep logs of submissions, why would your ms not have been included in those logs? It seems unlikely.

If he's so confident that your ms isn't included in those logs, then I have to wonder if he submitted it there at all.

When and if you get a new agent you have to explain this to her, and let her judge how best to proceed.

Putputt
10-01-2013, 02:01 PM
Most publishers keep lists of the submissions they receive. So an editor having left a specific publisher, or having left publishing all together, doesn't make all memory of the submission disappear: it just means that the person who rejected it is no longer there to explain why.



Out of curiosity, I heard from an agent that if an MS has been submitted to an editor before, it is sometimes possible, with caution, to submit it to a different editor at the same imprint. I'm just curious to know how likely this is, since your quote above makes me think that once an editor at an imprint has rejected the MS, it is rejected by the whole imprint.

Old Hack
10-01-2013, 03:26 PM
Different publishers work in different ways. Some will share submissions, so a rejection from one is a rejection from them all; some don't share, so you can resubmit (with caution) to other editors at the same imprint.

It all depends on the publishers concerned, and how they work. Which is another good reason to check everyone's guidelines before you submit anywhere, as what's right for one isn't going to be right for them all.

Putputt
10-01-2013, 03:29 PM
Different publishers work in different ways. Some will share submissions, so a rejection from one is a rejection from them all; some don't share, so you can resubmit (with caution) to other editors at the same imprint.

It all depends on the publishers concerned, and how they work. Which is another good reason to check everyone's guidelines before you submit anywhere, as what's right for one isn't going to be right for them all.

Ahh, that clarifies things, thank you!

Quickbread
10-01-2013, 08:00 PM
If the publishers your ms was submitted to keep logs of submissions, why would your ms not have been included in those logs? It seems unlikely.

If he's so confident that your ms isn't included in those logs, then I have to wonder if he submitted it there at all.

This is exactly where my head was going, but I didn't want to say it first. He was emphatic about me not being in systems and said specifically that all those houses would be open to me. He promised to follow up last week's call with the editor list in writing, but it hasn't come, despite a friendly reminder email from me. Big surprise.

Could I call some of these houses (not the editors, of course) and check to see if the manuscript is in the log? Is that acceptable?

Old Hack
10-01-2013, 10:12 PM
I wouldn't do that. I would tell my new agent the whole story, including my suspicions, and suggest that she could contact them and ask if they would be prepared to look at it.

Quickbread
10-01-2013, 10:24 PM
Thanks, Old Hack. Glad I asked first. Trouble is, I'm missing one of the editors' names (and the house) because he was talking really fast, and he told me he'd follow up in writing, so I didn't ask him to repeat. I was shocked to even have him on the phone. I should have asserted myself more. I'll try calling him again.

Here's to a much much much much better agent in my very near future.