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Whimsigirl
08-18-2014, 10:35 PM
Hi everyone,

I've been with my agent for a couple years, worked on two books together that didn't get picked up by publishers. The first was literary, the second YA. I'm concentrating on YA now, which my agent doesn't specialize in...in fact her focus is nonfiction, but I'm one of her few fiction clients. She's part of a large and prestigious agency so I'm reluctant to cut the cord, but part of me thinks I should consider it.

Any advice?

Aggy B.
08-18-2014, 10:51 PM
Hi everyone,

I've been with my agent for a couple years, worked on two books together that didn't get picked up by publishers. The first was literary, the second YA. I'm concentrating on YA now, which my agent doesn't specialize in...in fact her focus is nonfiction, but I'm one of her few fiction clients. She's part of a large and prestigious agency so I'm reluctant to cut the cord, but part of me thinks I should consider it.

Any advice?

Do you feel like her inability to sell the previous two books was because she doesn't specialize in fiction? Or are there other factors (writing maturity, market saturation) that played a bigger role?

I think the first thing to do would be to talk to her about it and see if she also feels she's not the best person for your newer work. Or if she has a plan for how to handle fiction submissions in a category she's unfamiliar with.

I would think discussing it with your agent would give you a better idea of whether to stay or look for someone new.

heza
08-18-2014, 10:53 PM
Have you scheduled a call with your agent to discuss her strategy for selling your YA work? Ideally, you should have had this conversation before signing, but since you've shifted your focus, it would probably be a good time to revisit the matter. (What Aggy said.)

Unhappy
08-18-2014, 11:00 PM
Hi everyone,

I've been with my agent for a couple years, worked on two books together that didn't get picked up by publishers. The first was literary, the second YA. I'm concentrating on YA now, which my agent doesn't specialize in...in fact her focus is nonfiction, but I'm one of her few fiction clients. She's part of a large and prestigious agency so I'm reluctant to cut the cord, but part of me thinks I should consider it.

Any advice?

Always difficult to make the break. Two years is a long wait. You must ask yourself how long you are prepared to continue waiting, and if your answer is 'I no longer want to wait' then you break.

Maryn
08-18-2014, 11:34 PM
Consider, too, that even if this agent is no longer doing justice to the fiction you're now writing, if she's with a prestigious agency and believes you're good, she may be able to refer you to a colleague.

Maryn, who had to type colleague three times

Whimsigirl
08-18-2014, 11:49 PM
Thanks everyone. Yes, we talked about the YA submission a while ago, and she said she'd ask her colleagues for advice and assistance on that front...but I don't know how confident I feel about her enthusiasm for YA...

Maryn, that's what I've been hoping for, but I'm nervous about asking her to pass me to one of her colleagues.

Maryn
08-19-2014, 12:46 AM
Whoa, there. She's in your employ. Of course you should not hesitate to ask for a referral, if your conversation about her repping you well reveals she doesn't.

C'mon, clearly you're a talented writer to have gotten this far, so even if you and I know you're quaking in your boots, stand tall and fake Of course you should do this for your client.

Maryn, pumping you up

mccardey
08-19-2014, 12:54 AM
Whoa, there. She's in your employ. Of course you should not hesitate to ask for a referral, if your conversation about her repping you well reveals she doesn't.

C'mon, clearly you're a talented writer to have gotten this far, so even if you and I know you're quaking in your boots, stand tall and fake Of course you should do this for your client.

Maryn, pumping you up

This, and also remember that you're giving her the chance to do something good for the Agency she works with, as well. It will be a plus for her if she passes you on and the next agent gets you a contract.

mccardey, trying to sound like bolsteringly like Maryn

midazolam
08-19-2014, 04:08 AM
OP, I had to double-check your name on this post because I could have written the exact same thing two years ago (and probably did...)! Word for word, this was my situation. Maybe it's even the same agent.

I cut the cord, wrote a new book, got a new agent, and had a book deal within a few months. Best decision I ever made.

Talk to your agent, yes, but also listen to your gut.

Whimsigirl
08-19-2014, 06:18 PM
Thanks everyone! I scheduled a call with my agent today so we'll see how that goes...

Thanks for the advice, midazolam. My gut is telling me to cut as well, but it's so hard! Will make a decision after the call!

Whimsigirl
08-19-2014, 08:59 PM
Pretty discouraging call. Agent thinks there isn't much room for lighter-toned YA on the market, and doubts that her colleagues would want my new book, but I am welcome to prove her wrong.

Aggy B.
08-19-2014, 09:18 PM
Pretty discouraging call. Agent thinks there isn't much room for lighter-toned YA on the market, and doubts that her colleagues would want my new book, but I am welcome to prove her wrong.

As in, you should query her colleagues?

It's seems obvious she isn't keen on trying to rep what you seem to want to write.

If it were me, I think I would be moving on to another agent.

Maryn
08-19-2014, 09:36 PM
If she's not handing you off to her colleague(s) but telling you to query as if you had no agency connections, then yeah, cut the cord. You can do better, and clearly deserve better as well.

Maryn, all harrumphy on your behalf

Quickbread
08-19-2014, 09:46 PM
Yeah, I'm harrumphy on your behalf, too.

Do you have your eye on any specific colleagues at the agency? Maybe you could flat-out ask your agent for a referral to a specific fellow agent, or to the agent she might think is the best fit, even if she's unsure.

I started with an agent who focused on nonfiction, and now have an agent who focuses on fiction, especially debuts. She told me once that fiction needs a lot more handholding to bring to completion than nonfiction, so it's a bit of a different skillset. An agent who focuses on nonfic may not even know what's needed in a particular fiction manuscript to make it publisher-ready. So don't take her input as gospel.

In any case, you deserve an agent who's enthusiastic about your work.

Jennifer_Laughran
08-19-2014, 09:54 PM
I can't say whether your book is good or not, obviously, having not read it -- but, in my opinion, there is PLENTY of room for excellent "lighter-toned" YA in the current market.

It seems like you and she are not on the same page.

Siri Kirpal
08-19-2014, 09:55 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Get another agent! You can do it! You can do it! You can! You can!

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Whimsigirl
08-20-2014, 01:18 AM
Thanks everyone, I feel very inspired by the support on this forum. I'm going to cut the cord, only the question is when (when will be when I'm feeling a little braver and more confident in my new WIP) and how.

Maybe I should start another thread for this, but do I make a call or do I email my agent to part ways?

And when I query new agents, do I mention that I was repped previously by someone else?

THANK YOU!

Quickbread
08-20-2014, 01:48 AM
I don't have answers to your questions, but on a related note, have you checked your contract for your termination terms? There's often a period of time that needs to elapse between termination and querying new agents.

Whimsigirl
08-20-2014, 03:33 AM
There's nothing in the contract about a period of time that needs to elapse before querying other agents. Not really worried about that either, as it will be some time before my WIP is finished.

Aggy B.
08-20-2014, 04:23 AM
There's nothing in the contract about a period of time that needs to elapse before querying other agents. Not really worried about that either, as it will be some time before my WIP is finished.

You will need to ask for the list(s) of the publishers your agent submitted the two previous books to. This way a new agent can decide whether those need to go back out on submission and, if so, where to send them.

I would think the discussion of previous representation would be a good subject to bring up during any phone calls with potential agents. It shouldn't make much difference at the query stage whether you've been repped before or not since any new agent will be interested in the book, not so much whether you'd had an agent before. Not that I would hide the fact, just focus the querying on the new work, mention the older stuff/previous representation once you're to the stage of discussing the author/agent relationship. (Since that will likely also be the point an agent will say "What else have you been working on?")

midazolam
08-20-2014, 06:43 AM
I sent an email to my agent saying I wanted to part ways, and that was fine. Just be courteous and respectful and as flattering as possible - you don't want to burn any bridges.

I did not mention my previous agent in queries, but I did bring it up during "the call." I spoke with three offering agents, and it came up pretty naturally. It also gave me the opportunity to talk about what kind of style didn't work for me, and I think those agents appreciated my honesty. That said, you don't have to mention it if you don't want to. I just think it's best to start a new relationship with everything out in the open, and for me that meant talking about my former agent.

Also, for what it's worth, I didn't ask my former agent for a submission list. I'd moved on from those projects, and since it's tough for a new agent to go out on sub with something that's already made the rounds, I figured it wasn't really worth it to go there. I really just wanted to start fresh.

Good luck. I think you're making the smart move.

Siri Kirpal
08-20-2014, 07:46 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Since you need a new agent for a book you've not yet completed, you do not need to mention the old agent, except as noted upstream, you want to mention what doesn't work for you...during the call.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Quickbread
08-20-2014, 04:19 PM
I would for sure get your previous submission lists. You may decide you want to overhaul one of those earlier manuscripts. Or your new agent might have an idea for making them brilliant, if they weren't already. And you'll really want/need to know where the old manuscripts have been and also what the editors' responses were. You never know.

Jamesaritchie
08-20-2014, 08:04 PM
Pretty discouraging call. Agent thinks there isn't much room for lighter-toned YA on the market, and doubts that her colleagues would want my new book, but I am welcome to prove her wrong.


If she doesn't specialize in fiction, I certainly wouldn't trust her judgment on what the market does or doesn't want. Not for a second.

MandyHubbard
08-20-2014, 11:32 PM
I just wanted to chime in and say I'm with Jennifer-- there's plenty of room for light YA in the market. I happen to write it (as well as represent it) and have no trouble.

Whimsigirl
08-21-2014, 03:55 AM
Okay, will ask for submission lists and prepare for the long road ahead. Thanks for the encouragement, everyone, and Mandy, thanks for the outlook of the YA market. You may be receiving a query from me in a few months!

Bolder
08-21-2014, 08:29 PM
Maybe just switch to writing nonfiction? =)

Whimsigirl
10-09-2014, 08:26 PM
Okay, I did it -- sent a very polite, friendly email this morning to call it off. I'm so nervous!

Back to the querying stage I go...

Maryn
10-09-2014, 10:27 PM
It'll be fine. You agent knows it's a business arrangement, nothing personal.

Maryn, glad you didn't kill The Godfather

Siri Kirpal
10-10-2014, 05:49 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

May you land a better one soon!

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Quickbread
10-10-2014, 10:56 PM
Good luck! You can do it!