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Luzoni
03-28-2015, 03:44 AM
I have a few questions about what's a normal timeframe for revisions of secondary novels with an agent. I have a wonderful agent who is a fabulous editor and we spent about 4-ish months revising my first novel, the one she signed me for, about a year and a half ago. Unfortunately it's not sold yet and I'm eager to put another novel on submission because I'm a prolific writer and I love the work and I love working with her.

So I sent two additional novels to my agent to try and get those thru revisions and onto submission, but while the feedback she gives me is great, it's sparse and spread out over months. I sent one last summer and hadn't received a lot of feedback by Christmas. I understand that not only is she busy (she has a full time job other than agenting and has her own books to write/publish) but these secondary novels may not be something she's very passionate about compared to the first one.

I wanted to run this by the forum here as I realize this may not be abnormal at all. What are other writers' and agents' experiences with revisions of additional novels? Should I reign in my eagerness and just be more patient? But, more importantly, do you guys have suggestions on how I could help the situation? I don't want to nag her, but I don't know what's normal or what I should expect. Any feedback would be much appreciated! :D

popgun62
03-28-2015, 03:56 AM
Two things about your agent bother me:

"...while the feedback she gives me is great, it's sparse and spread out over months" and ..."she has a full time job other than agenting and has her own books to write/publish."

For one thing, why is she spreading out her sparse feedback over months? Sounds unprofessional. The most my agent ever takes for revisions is two months, and her notes are extensive and cover the entire book.

Secondly, while it's not unusual for an agent to also be an author, having a full-time job is. Most every agent I've heard of does the agent thing full-time, with few exceptions. But even that wouldn't be so bad if she was giving you the time you deserve as a client. What is her experience in the industry? Has she sold anything to a Big 5 publisher? I hope and pray that you're not paying her an up-front fee.

If I were you, I would begin the hunt for another agent, and make sure you vet them here on AW first by looking at the various threads and seeing if he/she has legit experience and legit sales in your genre. Good luck!

amergina
03-28-2015, 04:11 AM
I agree with popgun that the two things he highlighted also give me pause, especially that agenting is only a part-time thing for her.

My agent did take some time to return feedback on my fantasy novel--it needs a pretty heavy revision--but I got the feedback all at once. For my romance, she was much much quicker to return feedback, and we sold that (and a sequel) pretty fast.

My agent is a full-time agent and part of an established agency that has done well for its clients. Her top priority is her clients.

Luzoni
03-28-2015, 04:16 AM
Thank you for the reply!

She is legit and with a good agency, well received by AW here. Actually, the other two major agents at her agency also hold other jobs, I believe. They are a new agency, starting it when the founders left a different agency to start their own. That was about two years ago, but they're expanding and adding editors and additional agents.
I know of at least one large sale, to Orbit, though it was by a different agent at their agency. I know they've had others. I'm not sure how long my agent has been active, but several years at least.

Aggy B.
03-28-2015, 05:26 AM
My agent has been pretty quick with suggestions for revisions. I think the first novel (the one he signed me for) he took about a month to read through, then we talked on the phone. Once I finished the revisions it was a couple of weeks while he read the new draft.

Book two was similar. A couple of weeks for him to read, then another couple while we set up a phone call.

Book three went through four drafts after the first one, but was still pretty quick. I finished the first draft beginning of November and finished the fifth/last draft mid-January.

However, as far as I know, agenting is his only job and he is not an author on the side. I also let him know when I start a new project, give him an informal pitch on it so I can be certain it is something he wants to rep, and usually provide a tentative deadline for when I think it will be finished. That way he can plan to look at it instead of working it into his schedule.

Naturally, each agent and author will work differently, but long wait times and sparse notes would make me think long and hard about whether an agent was working for me. I would suggest scheduling a call to talk things over.

Luzoni
03-28-2015, 06:11 AM
Aggy, that sounds awesome! Have all your books sold?

My other two projects have some issues that are lengthening the process. I looked back to make sure my memory isn't playing tricks on me and mixing up the waiting for a sale with waiting for a MS. With the second MS I'm not sure how long it was for her initial read, but after I rewrote it from her feedback, the response time was two months to hear she'd read about a third and wanted additional changes. I did those and got it back to her in Oct. and it's been sparse since then. I asked her to work on a third MS around Thanksgiving and to focus on that one instead, but she hasn't finished an initial read yet. She has revisions suggested for it when I asked and I'm implementing those and switching back to the second MS b/c I figured I was just overloading her.

Aggy B.
03-28-2015, 06:19 AM
Aggy, that sounds awesome! Have all your books sold?


Not yet. Book One has been out a little over a year. Book Two has been out since August, 2014. Book Three is actually in a holding pattern while we wait for responses on the other two.

Waiting is frustrating but we started at the top and we're still getting responses back from the bigger houses on the first book so we've got a ways to go yet before we're done.

Putputt
03-28-2015, 02:25 PM
It does sound weird to me that your agent has another job in addition to agenting, buuuut long in my experience, long wait times occur even with agents who don't have another job. My personal experience with my old agents:

-With the book they signed me for, they were VERY excited and I got extensive feedback every 1 month or so, for 5 rounds of editing total. I thought the month-long waits were reasonable given that with each round of edits, they sent me in-MS crit which was very thorough.

-However, that book did not sell.

-With subsequent books... Book 2 took the agents about 3 months to read, and Book 3 took about 2 months for them to get to. After reading both books, they asked me to come in to the office to discuss both of books. We decided to work on Book 3, but this time, their feedback was shorter. No in-MS feedback. I did the edits. It took over 2 months for them to get back to me. And when they did, they said they no longer wanted to go with Book 3. It just doesn't work, they said. How about going with Book 2, or an entirely different book? I said let's go with Book 2. I waited another 2 months before they sent me their feedback on Book 2, and when it finally arrived, it was even vaguer than their feedback on Book 3.

-I had a decision to make. By this time, I was already unhappy with their treatment of Book 3, because they basically told me that I had followed their edits to a T, which ruined the book. I asked them if I made more edits on Book 3, would they give it another chance? They said ehh. So finally, we parted ways.

-I queried Book 3 and signed with a different agency, and they sent me pretty in-depth notes even before we signed. It's been a bit over 1 month since I sent them my revisions and they told me they'll have more notes for me by early next week. So this timeline is more reminiscent of the timeline I had with my old agents when it came to my first book.

I've noticed the same pattern with a couple of friends I have whose first books didn't sell. First book was revised extensively and efficiently, and if it doesn't sell, the following books aren't given as much care. Mind you, that's literally only two people I know of other than myself who've had that happen, so I'm not saying that's the norm, but it makes sense to me. The agents just might not love the subsequent books. They see potential, but maybe it's just not quite their cups of tea, and it's not even the book they signed the client on for.

So what does this mean for you? Hell if I know. :D I don't know if there's a right answer. One of the friends I mentioned who's in a similar situation decided to stick with her current agent since she's also busy with her own business and doesn't mind the extra wait time for her subsequent books to be read. I think it's been like 6 months and no word yet from her agent about her latest book. I'm not really in touch with the other friend who was in that position, so I don't know what she decided to do. For myself, I decided that I needed a fresh start and an agent who's as enthusiastic about Book 3 as my old agents were about Book 1.

It was scary as hell to jump ship though. When the rejections rolled in, I did wonder whether I'd made a huge mistake. Maybe they were right, maybe I should've moved on to a different project. But I reminded myself that if I didn't take that chance, Book 3 would just get buried, and I didn't want that. When I asked the agent I'm interning for for advice, he said, "Which one do you believe in more: your agents or your MS?" The answer made my choice a lot clearer. :)

Holy crap, this has been an essay. I hope it helps!

Old Hack
03-28-2015, 02:39 PM
I am not convinced that an agent can be effective as an agent when working full-time at something else. How can your agent speak to editors, to publishers, go to meetings, chase up foreign rights co-agents and so on?

I'm also concerned that your agent is taking far too long to get back to you. The time-frames you describe are not acceptable.

I'm not happy with this agent, whoever she is: but if I knew who she was I might be able to give you more specific advice. Feel free to PM me the name of the agent, in confidence of course. I'll let you know if I've heard anything significant.

oceansoul
03-28-2015, 03:04 PM
I have heard it isn't uncommon for newer agents to keep their jobs initially, and then gradually start cutting back into part-time work then into full-time agenting, if they're at smaller agencies that don't pay them an assistant salary while they build their client list. I interned for an agency for about six months, and it wasn't uncommon practice there. They have to live and eat, and if they live in NYC, that's really not a cheap task.

However, after a few years in the business, the fact that she still works full time AND is a writer in her own right does seem like she has a lot going on? Writing is a part-time job in itself for most authors (if they can't yet afford to write as their 9-5). Since I started working full-time, my own writing time has lessened. Effectively it sounds like this agent has 2 full-time jobs, whatever she does 9-5, agenting, as well as a part-time job, writing. THAT IS CRAZY.

Captcha
03-28-2015, 03:28 PM
Add another voice saying that an agent working another full time job is weird. It's not just the time it takes, but also the logistics.

I mean, is her other job at night, or is she working somewhere else during the day? I know my agent does a lot of her initial communication with editors/publishers by phone, and that would be a bit hard to manage if she were working somewhere else during their business hours.

I think my agent is a bit of a superstar with her response times (like, responding to e-mails within the hour, getting revision suggestions to me within the week), so maybe she's not a fair comparison, but I really don't think it should be months and months. That doesn't sound right at all.

Luzoni
03-28-2015, 08:46 PM
Thank you all for the feedback. Unfortunately it's confirming what I'd feared.

PuttPutt, your bravery in jumping ship astounds me! I'm so glad it worked out for you! I'm not sure I could handle it, especially since I do love and totally agree with the feedback she gives me and the work she did with my first book really helped it. And I think the rewrite she pushed me to do with the second project helped it too, though I need that confirmed from her.

I just don't know what to do, other than wait, which has been what I've obviously been doing.

Old Hack
03-29-2015, 12:20 AM
I have heard it isn't uncommon for newer agents to keep their jobs initially, and then gradually start cutting back into part-time work then into full-time agenting, if they're at smaller agencies that don't pay them an assistant salary while they build their client list. I interned for an agency for about six months, and it wasn't uncommon practice there. They have to live and eat, and if they live in NYC, that's really not a cheap task.

However, after a few years in the business, the fact that she still works full time AND is a writer in her own right does seem like she has a lot going on? Writing is a part-time job in itself for most authors (if they can't yet afford to write as their 9-5). Since I started working full-time, my own writing time has lessened. Effectively it sounds like this agent has 2 full-time jobs, whatever she does 9-5, agenting, as well as a part-time job, writing. THAT IS CRAZY.

I agree.

An agent who hasn't managed to become a full-time agent after a few years of working at the job is either not very good at the job, or doesn't actually want to commit to it.

Neither of these two reasons is good for her clients.


Thank you all for the feedback. Unfortunately it's confirming what I'd feared.

PuttPutt, your bravery in jumping ship astounds me! I'm so glad it worked out for you! I'm not sure I could handle it, especially since I do love and totally agree with the feedback she gives me and the work she did with my first book really helped it. And I think the rewrite she pushed me to do with the second project helped it too, though I need that confirmed from her.

I just don't know what to do, other than wait, which has been what I've obviously been doing.

Has waiting got you anywhere?

I don't mean to be snappy. I am worried for you. Where's your work going while your agent ignores you?

Aggy B.
03-29-2015, 12:40 AM
Has waiting got you anywhere?

I don't mean to be snappy. I am worried for you. Where's your work going while your agent ignores you?

This was my thought as well. It doesn't sound like she's nearly as keen on your second or third books. If the first were to sell, that *might* change, but it seems unlikely that she'll be more interested in your other work if the first one doesn't go anywhere. And really, the last thing you want is an agent tying up a MS they aren't invested in.

I've been very fortunate to find an agent who seems equally keen on everything I've shown him. He's not been hesitant about reading or responding to any of the four books I've worked on over the past year and a half. But if he had only shown interest in the first one, I would be a lot less zen about waiting for him to decide if he might be interested in repping the others.

If your agent isn't really interested in the other things you've written, it's in your best interest not to let her try and rep them. You want someone who will give all your work it's best shot.

Again, I would suggest a phone call to hash all this out. Ask her what her plans are for the other books. Ask her if she's slow in responding because she doesn't have the time to work on them, if they need more work than the first time, if they're too far outside her interests. You can be firm without being rude.

Luzoni
03-29-2015, 04:46 AM
Thank you guys (and gals!)

This is so scary...and depressing! I seriously dread trying to arrange that sort of phone call, Aggy. We've not had a call since she called to offer to rep me, so if I make that kind of request she's going to know something's up.

Out of curiosity, I can't help but wonder if there's a way to possibly not jump ship, exactly, but to see if maybe a different agent at her agency would be interested in my other novels. Except I wouldn't want to ruffle any feathers in a transfer and I don't know if that sort of thing is even feasible. Plus I wouldn't know how to suggest it. :cry:

But I have to hope maybe the other agents would see the value of keeping me since my agent already put all that work into reading two MS and subbing my first one. I mean it can only help all of them if I get a second book subbing that sells because then the first one is more likely to sell, right? Or maybe they'd be fine dropping me b/c the first one hasn't sold? :Shrug:

If I did jump ship I don't know what would happen to my first book, still in submissions. I'm guessing it'd stay with her?

Old Hack
03-29-2015, 12:22 PM
This is so scary...and depressing! I seriously dread trying to arrange that sort of phone call, Aggy. We've not had a call since she called to offer to rep me, so if I make that kind of request she's going to know something's up.

Of course it's scary. You have a lot of hope pinned on your agent, and the questions you're asking here are challenging whether or not she's going to make your hopes a reality.

But asking your agent those questions isn't going to change whether she sells your books or not. It's going to clarify what's happening here. You might have to find a new agent: but if that's the case, it would be the case whether or not you have that discussion. You'd just know it sooner if you have that discussion.

(That's a very convoluted response. I hope it makes sense!)


Out of curiosity, I can't help but wonder if there's a way to possibly not jump ship, exactly, but to see if maybe a different agent at her agency would be interested in my other novels. Except I wouldn't want to ruffle any feathers in a transfer and I don't know if that sort of thing is even feasible. Plus I wouldn't know how to suggest it. :cry:

I wouldn't try for this. If you're going to break with her, then a clean break is probably better. I doubt that the other agents at the agency would be willing to take you on, too: there would be a few conflicts of interest there, I fear.


If I did jump ship I don't know what would happen to my first book, still in submissions. I'm guessing it'd stay with her?

If you decide to break your relationship with your agent then she would probably pull any submissions which are still out there.

Which brings me back to your first post in this thread:


I have a few questions about what's a normal timeframe for revisions of secondary novels with an agent. I have a wonderful agent who is a fabulous editor and we spent about 4-ish months revising my first novel, the one she signed me for, about a year and a half ago. Unfortunately it's not sold yet and I'm eager to put another novel on submission because I'm a prolific writer and I love the work and I love working with her.

Your book has been out on submission for a year and a half. Do you know who it's been sent to? How many publishers have seen it, and what their responses have been?

Ask your agent for this information if you don't have it already. It could be that there are common reasons behind the rejections it has received, which you might be able to resolve; or it could be that she's not sent it out to many people, or to the right people. If that's the case, you have to know.

oceansoul
03-29-2015, 12:49 PM
I kind of want to know how you've tried to approach your issues with your agent in the past. You say you've only ever had one phone call with her. This also seems a bit weird to me. I would have thought that a frank conversation with her should precede the actual break up, just to check in and see what the deal is and why she's behaved the way that she has?

I totally stand by my original comment that I think she has too much on her plate to be an affective advocate for you, but I also think you've been a little passive with regards to actively pursuing communication with her. Maybe something to think about with your next agent? Maybe work at keeping communication channels open from the start?

Obviously take what I say with the caveat that I don't have an agent myself, so haven't had to manage that working relationship. But I do work with a lot of people at my day job! And I definitely wouldn't be shy myself about asking the staff at Harmony Ink (my publisher) what was up if I hadn't heard from them for a while.

Old Hack
03-29-2015, 01:27 PM
oceansoul is spot-on. You must have a discussion with your agent prior to ending your relationship with her: it could be that this is all the result of a misunderstanding, rather than her lack of ability. Good luck.

Putputt
03-29-2015, 02:46 PM
Of course it's scary. You have a lot of hope pinned on your agent, and the questions you're asking here are challenging whether or not she's going to make your hopes a reality.

But asking your agent those questions isn't going to change whether she sells your books or not. It's going to clarify what's happening here. You might have to find a new agent: but if that's the case, it would be the case whether or not you have that discussion. You'd just know it sooner if you have that discussion.

This makes a lot sense. When I asked the agent I'm interning for for advice, he said to let my ex-agents know all of my worries. I am super averse to conversations like these, so he suggested approaching it very gently, you know, stuff like "I'm concerned regarding the time-frame of our editing process and was wondering if there's anything I can do to help speed it up a bit" sort of fing. Make yourself sound proactive while still letting her know that her slowness is not working for you.

It was still a terrible thing (gawd, I haaaate these conversations so much) to have to do, but better to do it sooner than later.



I wouldn't try for this. If you're going to break with her, then a clean break is probably better. I doubt that the other agents at the agency would be willing to take you on, too: there would be a few conflicts of interest there, I fear.

I know of one instance where something similar-ish happened. The client wasn't happy with her agent and I guess the other agents somehow knew about it (I have no idea how they found out). One of them offered to represent the client (if she wanted to stay with that agency, of course). She accepted and afaik she's happy with the new arrangement. BUT this was proposed by the agency. She wasn't the one who asked about it, and I'm under the impression that her old agent was aware of it from the very beginning. I just don't see a good way of the author suggesting it. "I'm not happy with you, but maybe your colleague...?" OH is right, a clean break's probably best.

And yeah, I hpoe she's been keeping you updated with the MS that's been in subs! If not, definitely ask where she's subbed to and whether there's been any feedback etc.

Luzoni
03-29-2015, 10:38 PM
Up until about a year ago she'd send me updates about the novel in sub, but since then it's only when I prompt her that she gives me a list of publishers she's queried and a few others who she says have the MS. She doesn't send me the rejections like she used to, which, oddly, makes me sad since many of them had good things to say even though they said no.

In the past all our communication has been via email. I sent her an email the other day asking for an update and politely asking for a timeline on the MS I asked her to read earlier this month, but I haven't heard back. She hasn't been active on Twitter either during the last couple days, but she's back now so if I don't see something soon I'm going to try again. She usually responds on the same day I email her, so it's not as if she's uncommunicative or anything.

You're all totally right, as much as I hate hearing it. I've started wondering whether it'd be in my best interests to let her rep the second MS that was rewritten. She hasn't sold the first one and that may or may not be partly her fault. The rejections I saw often had glowing praise ("she's a great writer" "I love the characters" "awesome world-building") like I wanted to frame some of them! LOL But they would all ultimately say it wasn't a good fit for them. The reasons were various, and I suspect it was just that the book is in this weird NA-Adult-YA spot and my agent wasn't at fault. That's what I'd like to think anyway.

OK, now I'm just rambling. :Shrug: I'll try to get the conversation going, as proactively as possible. Ugh. Just thinking about it makes me feel like I'm going to throw up.

Luzoni
03-30-2015, 04:21 AM
Well, I composed an email telling her that I am concerned about the length of time reading and revisions have taken, and I wondered if there was any way to help. I told her I need more communication from her on the submission process, as it's been almost a year since I received feedback without asking for it first. I said I was concerned because I'm prolific and have a backlog that I was afraid it'd take years to get to. I also asked her if the second and third novels were outside her interests.

Her response was prompt and she apologized and told me she has some time off work for Easter and she would try to get through reading my second novel then. She did admit she's not as emotionally invested in the characters of the other novels, but they're not outside her interest. She then asked me what sort of other projects I had that I was working on.

So...here's the part I see in big glaring red letters: She's going to TRY to get through my novel over Easter. Back around Thanksgiving she told me she'd read my other book over Christmas. She didn't. Also missing from this email is any kind of promise that I may expect a more rapid response going ahead.

So my gut says I need to get out. She isn't promising to change, just dangling hope in front of me. Would you guys agree?

Aggy B.
03-30-2015, 05:47 AM
It is a decision you have to make, but if you feel like her promise to read over Easter is already thin and your gut says get out, that's probably what you need to do.

I don't always get a response back from my agent exactly when he promises to get back to me, but he doesn't say "I'll get to this by Monday," and then still not be in touch months later. That's a huge problem and if she's already made a promise to read a MS and still hasn't gotten to it after several months, I would be concerned. Especially if she's saying a similar thing about a different MS now.

You'll need to decide what to do about the first book though. Whether you let the rest of the submissions come back or pull it from wherever it's still under submission. And get the full list of every place it's been subbed for future reference.

I know it's a scary thing, but you really can't wait for years to be getting new manuscripts out on submission.

Putputt
03-30-2015, 07:13 AM
Well, I composed an email telling her that I am concerned about the length of time reading and revisions have taken, and I wondered if there was any way to help. I told her I need more communication from her on the submission process, as it's been almost a year since I received feedback without asking for it first. I said I was concerned because I'm prolific and have a backlog that I was afraid it'd take years to get to. I also asked her if the second and third novels were outside her interests.

Go Luzoni! That sounds like a super progressive email! :)



Her response was prompt and she apologized and told me she has some time off work for Easter and she would try to get through reading my second novel then. She did admit she's not as emotionally invested in the characters of the other novels, but they're not outside her interest. She then asked me what sort of other projects I had that I was working on.

Heh, when I saw this I was all, "Yay!" But then I got to the next part...



So...here's the part I see in big glaring red letters: She's going to TRY to get through my novel over Easter. Back around Thanksgiving she told me she'd read my other book over Christmas. She didn't. Also missing from this email is any kind of promise that I may expect a more rapid response going ahead.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. This sucks. :( Sorry, Luzoni. I think it's understandable to get sidetracked by stuff happening, but all the way from Christmas to Easter? That's a heck of a long time to not have a chance to read a client's book.



So my gut says I need to get out. She isn't promising to change, just dangling hope in front of me. Would you guys agree?

I can't answer this for you. :-/ I am an impatient hippo, so I would get out, but Easter's less than a week away, so you could also wait and nudge after Easter break. If she still hasn't gotten to your book by then, it's pretty clear what you need to do.

Sorry to hear you're in this position. :Hug2:

Luzoni
03-30-2015, 07:36 AM
Puttputt, to be fair, there's a convoluted bit where I told her to switch from one book (call it A) to another (call it B) around Thanksgiving, after I'd been waiting over a month to hear back on the first one (A). She said she'd read that other one (B) over Christmas and didn't. In fact, I didn't hear back from her on B ever until I nudged in March, this month, so 4 months on B. She never read more than a few chapters of B in those months. She had good input based on those chapters, but hadn't gotten to vital elements of plot, which was super frustrating.

Trying to puzzle it out, I've spent just about a full year either doing revisions myself on A (4 months including a total from scratch rewrite), or waiting on her to read (7 months).

Oh never mind, LOL. I've gone cross-eyed trying to count and it still sounds terrible every way I say it. :Shrug: But I may wait through Easter to see if she takes me seriously here. But at this point I'm really scared if she does read A and says it's great and wants to sub it...is it really in my best interests to let her sub it?? If she has a problem getting sales all I'm doing is quashing my career before it's started. :cry:

Gringa
03-30-2015, 09:13 AM
Popping in to say- give Easter a chance. After that all bets might be off the table. Until then, trust.

Let the decision answer itself.

Gringa

Quickbread
03-30-2015, 06:31 PM
Well, for me personally, if I didn't trust my agent, that would not sit well with me. Are you 100% certain she didn't read the manuscript which she told you she read, or are some assumptions coming into play here?

Consider that you might be misinterpreting some of her actions and assuming the worst, especially if your communication is not frequent. Also consider that it takes a good deal of time to go through a manuscript thoroughly, which may be why she could only use the word "try." And finally, consider that perhaps this agent's speed might simply not be a good match for yours. It might be worth an open-minded phone call to air all this out and assess whether you can agree on a process that will make you both happy given your different working styles.

And also, I'm curious, what do you love about her?

Aggy B.
03-30-2015, 06:38 PM
Easter is next week so it wouldn't hurt to wait and see if she does indeed read your book and offer feedback.

But, if I were in your shoes, I would be spending that week preparing for the possible outcomes and and defining what I want. (Suppose she reads it, but doesn't have notes ready immediately. Is that acceptable? What sort of reasonable time frame do you want to be working in? What if she doesn't read it and there are more promises of soon? Do you wait until the other book comes back from submission or tell her things are over, you want the book pulled and you need the complete submissions list. And so on.)

If it were me I would also be looking at any agents I'd queried before to see if there were any that were interested, but not interested enough, in the first book who might be a good choice to query with the second or third books. Start putting together a query letter on whichever book you think is strongest. Essentially formulate a plan for what to do next if things don't work out with the current agent. (Which it sort of seems like they might not.)

This way you have something to do rather than sit around wondering what went wrong (nothing went wrong, btw, but even good agents and authors don't always work out for each other) and you can take concrete steps towards finding a new agent sooner rather than later.

((HUGS)) and best of luck. :)

Luzoni
03-30-2015, 06:54 PM
Quickbread, it's not that my agent told me she read something and I don't believe her. She flat out told me she hadn't read either book, after months. So it's not that I don't trust her, in fact one of the things I love about her is that I think she gives great feedback and critiques, but it takes months and after talking to people here I'm becoming concerned about her sales, or lack thereof.

And Aggy, way ahead of you there! Staying busy keeps me sane while I've spent all this time waiting. I've already got a query stewing in Query Hell with the wonderful squirrels. There was one agent who wanted a full of one MS back when I signed with my agent, but she wanted full MS for all subs so it wasn't special interest really. I also had a publisher who might be interested in the romance I wrote. But other than that, not a lot of connections or prospects.

Quickbread
03-30-2015, 07:12 PM
Ah, sorry, I misread the post above where you said "she said she'd read," as past tense, not future. :)

popgun62
03-30-2015, 07:15 PM
There's a saying that "No agent is better than a bad agent." A bad agent will keep leading you on, promising you that she'll get to your manuscript, and years later you still have nothing. I say get out while the getting is good and start submitting to other agents. It will be hard, but you found one agent, you can find another one.

whiporee
03-31-2015, 05:28 AM
There's a saying that "No agent is better than a bad agent." A bad agent will keep leading you on, promising you that she'll get to your manuscript, and years later you still have nothing. I say get out while the getting is good and start submitting to other agents. It will be hard, but you found one agent, you can find another one.

Except that without an agent, you're dead in the water. In all likelihood, your book WILL NOT be looked at by publishers without an agent, so you're back to querying again, and as much as we like to think otherwise, querying is a crapshoot. Maybe you catch the right agent on the right day with the right hook, and then maybe your book clicks with them at the right time in their list. And then maybe they are more communicative than the agent you have. Or maybe not.

OP, I think you're expecting too much from her. As much as we hope our agents are cheerleaders and wise sages for our careers, in reality we enter a relationship with them based on one book. She took you on based on one book, and now you're frustrated because she's not helping you with books that are not the one book she agreed to rep. I don't think that's fair. If you want editorial help, hire an editor or turn it over to your beta-ing pals and let her do the job she agreed to do -- don't give up on her because she's not doing things other than that fast enough for your liking.

Her job is to broker a deal between you and publishers for the one book she loved enough to want to rep? That's it.

If you think she's not doing a good job of presenting the first one, then maybe a change is in order. But it seems to me your frustration isn't that she's not doing enough for book, it's that she's not helping book two. If that's the case, I'd be surprised if any agent out there would be much different.

Aggy B.
03-31-2015, 05:43 AM
Whiporee: If an agent says "I'll read this in X amount of time," and then doesn't, that's a problem. It's not a question of wanting editorial help the agent isn't giving, it's a question of the agent saying she'll read and give feedback and then not doing it.

It's perfectly okay for an agent to draw the line with one book and focus only on that one thing that caught their interest in the first place. But that's not what seems to have happened here. It's also okay for agents to only rep the book as it's presented to them, but again this particular agent seems to be one who approaches manuscripts with an editorial eye.

Expecting an agent to do what he or she has said they would is hardly unfair or unreasonable.

amergina
03-31-2015, 05:45 AM
Except that without an agent, you're dead in the water. In all likelihood, your book WILL NOT be looked at by publishers without an agent, so you're back to querying again, and as much as we like to think otherwise, querying is a crapshoot. Maybe you catch the right agent on the right day with the right hook, and then maybe your book clicks with them at the right time in their list. And then maybe they are more communicative than the agent you have. Or maybe not.

OP, I think you're expecting too much from her. As much as we hope our agents are cheerleaders and wise sages for our careers, in reality we enter a relationship with them based on one book. She took you on based on one book, and now you're frustrated because she's not helping you with books that are not the one book she agreed to rep. I don't think that's fair. If you want editorial help, hire an editor or turn it over to your beta-ing pals and let her do the job she agreed to do -- don't give up on her because she's not doing things other than that fast enough for your liking.

Her job is to broker a deal between you and publishers for the one book she loved enough to want to rep? That's it.

If you think she's not doing a good job of presenting the first one, then maybe a change is in order. But it seems to me your frustration isn't that she's not doing enough for book, it's that she's not helping book two. If that's the case, I'd be surprised if any agent out there would be much different.


You know, that really depends on the agent. Some agents only take a writer on for a book. Others take on the writer.

My agent took me on for my career, not just for the book I sent her originally.

LA*78
03-31-2015, 05:49 AM
I think your agent is a hobbyist who loves the idea of being an agent but doesn't really have the time or the drive to make it her priority. If being an agent was truly a part time occupation for her, she would have time carved aside in her schedule for working on her agent duties - not just attempts to fit it in during her holidays. (Obviously I'm drawing my assumptions purely from the comments you've made on this thread, I don't actually know this person).

Your agent should be excited about and actively championing your work. You employ this person to be your go-between with publishers. They represent you. If you're happy with a casual hobbyist approach to the sale of your work then it's all good. But if you're not happy with that approach it might be time to look elsewhere.

Jamesaritchie
03-31-2015, 07:09 AM
I am not convinced that an agent can be effective as an agent when working full-time at something else. How can your agent speak to editors, to publishers, go to meetings, chase up foreign rights co-agents and so on?

I'm also concerned that your agent is taking far too long to get back to you. The time-frames you describe are not acceptable.

I'm not happy with this agent, whoever she is: but if I knew who she was I might be able to give you more specific advice. Feel free to PM me the name of the agent, in confidence of course. I'll let you know if I've heard anything significant.

At least half of the best agents I know work full-time at something else. There is nothing whatsoever uncommon about this. That makes even less sense than saying that writers can't be any good unless they write full-time.

I don't know how much time you think it takes each day to handle all an agent does, but unless the agent has far too many clients, it doesn't take so much time she can't hold another job. If it did, you could say so long to a lot of great agents.

whiporee
03-31-2015, 07:10 AM
Expecting an agent to do what he or she has said they would is hardly unfair or unreasonable.


Of course not. But I'd bet that the problem is that the AIQ has read at least some of the other two books -- remember that the OP said she'd told her to read the second after starting the first or something like that -- and doesn't like them. And now the AIQ is trying to avoid the conversation, so she says she hasn't read them.

This wouldn't be an issue because I'm sure agents tell clients they don't like their stuff all the time. I have one friend (really, my only semi-famous author friend) who tells me she dislikes her agent (she actually told me she doesn't know a writer who likes/relies on their agent), that her agent has never told her she liked a thing she's written. However, her agent sells her stuff and has allowed her a career, so it's a beneficial relationship. But the OP is looking toward there agent for direction on her MSes, waiting for plot feedback that's not coming, and that frankly, the agent isn't in the right position to provide. Editing and brokering are completely different skills, aren't they? Granted, the agent shouldn't have told her she'd provide that, but at the time, the agent might not have realized the extent of the obligation she was making. The OP is looking to the AIQ to provide guidance, when all the AIQ is trying to do is sell the book.


My agent took me on for my career, not just for the book I sent her originally.


They all say that. Mine said that. Our contract says she represents everything I write. But the reality is that the agent has no way of knowing what you'll do next -- all she has to go on is the MS in front of her. That's her priority. It's not helping you craft and weave the next masterpiece -- it's selling the book she has available to sell. Expecting more than that is putting unrealistic expectations on anyone.


If you're happy with a casual hobbyist approach to the sale of your work then it's all good.


What does this mean? All an agent can do at submission is convince people to read your stuff. That's it. They can't hard sell you to publishers or editors -- all they can do is get people who make those decisions to read what you've written. You want someone who believes in it, sure, but it sounds like the AIQ has gotten it read, just hasn't gotten it bought. If the agent has gotten it read and it hasn't sold, then the fault lies with the writer, not the agent.

I'm not saying this agent doesn't suck. She might. She might be a poser and a wannabe. I don't know. But I think that getting an agent -- someone who can present your finished works to publishers with a modicum of credibility -- is not an easy task, and one might be careful about abandoning the relationship for things that have little do with the actual purpose of the relationship.

Luzoni
03-31-2015, 07:20 AM
I think your agent is a hobbyist who loves the idea of being an agent but doesn't really have the time or the drive to make it her priority. If being an agent was truly a part time occupation for her, she would have time carved aside in her schedule for working on her agent duties - not just attempts to fit it in during her holidays. (Obviously I'm drawing my assumptions purely from the comments you've made on this thread, I don't actually know this person).

Your agent should be excited about and actively championing your work. You employ this person to be your go-between with publishers. They represent you. If you're happy with a casual hobbyist approach to the sale of your work then it's all good. But if you're not happy with that approach it might be time to look elsewhere.

^^^^This, totally.

I think she's awesome, I've really loved working wit her. I don't want to leave, but I don't think she just has enough time or drive to represent me the way I need, the way that's best for me.

I've asked to set up a call where we can talk. I'll lay out my concerns as gently and cautious and professional as I can because I really do think she's great. I don't know what she'll say exactly, but if she says things like that she's just been really busy with life, work, other clients...I'm going to tell her it's over. :cry:

I'm not sure if there's anything she can say to make me not terminate at this point, but I don't know, maybe I'll know it when I hear it. :Shrug:

And Whiporee, there are many editors who will look at MS without an agent. True story, an editor at Ace/Tor and Medallion both looked at my full MS, long before I got my agent. They rejected me, of course, but that's more interest than I've actually had from agents. In fact, I know an editor who might happily pick up my romance, but the publisher is mostly E-Books and I've always wanted to hold a physical book in my hands, so I went after an agent. But once I revise the romance, if I don't have an agent, I'll just directly sub it to that editor and cross my fingers. Querying is a crapshoot, but I'm stubborn and have a lot of novels. Eventually something will stick. I have to keep believing that.

Luzoni
03-31-2015, 07:34 AM
Of course not. But I'd bet that the problem is that the AIQ has read at least some of the other two books -- remember that the OP said she'd told her to read the second after starting the first or something like that -- and doesn't like them. And now the AIQ is trying to avoid the conversation, so she says she hasn't read them.



Whiporee, my agent did not say she didn't like the other two novels. In fact I asked her just last night and she assured me she is interested in them. You can assume she's lying for my sake, but I've chosen to believe her. Also, it was obvious she hadn't read the second novel at all as she didn't understand major plot points from early on in the novel.

The issue here has always been time. I don't think I'm being the least bit unreasonable to feel that almost a full year, with most of it being waiting on her to read or partially read, the MS, is too long. Also, she's not giving me updates unless I ask about the one on submission and hasn't for a year. She used to share rejections with me, but now I don't hear anything unless I ask. Also I'm not sitting around asking my agent to write my books for me, or advise me on what to write as you want to assume. And I don't insist on edits and revisions, my agent is the one ASKING me for them. But what do I know, right?

I appreciate the call for patience and caution, but maybe pump the brakes and assume I understand my agent, my contract with her, my work, and my situation better than you would for the simple fact that I'm the one living it.

amergina
03-31-2015, 07:35 AM
:e2shrug: My agent sold book 2 in a 2 book deal. Before I finished revising book 1.

And got me another contract on spec.

So yeah, I think she's thinking long term. But hey, wiporee, you might know more about my professional dealings than I do.

Aggy B.
03-31-2015, 07:44 AM
And my agent was an editor before moving to the agent side of things. He's been keen to rep three different novels (two written after he signed me for the first) in three different genres. And he's interested in a fourth (currently in progress), but didn't have any qualms about telling me one project I'd mentioned was less likely to be something he was interested in selling at this point.

I dunno about every author/agent relationship out there, but what you're describing, whiporee, is not a working relationship I would want to stay in.

oceansoul
03-31-2015, 07:45 AM
credibility -- is not an easy task, and one might be careful about abandoning the relationship for things that have little do with the actual purpose of the relationship.

Struggling with quotation from this mini iPad, but as far as I know the purpose of the author-agent relationship is to sell the damn books. The agent cannot sell the books if she hasn't even looked at them. I have also never heard of an agent who only wants an author to rep one book. I think industry standard is along career lines.

Putputt
03-31-2015, 08:09 AM
Of course not. But I'd bet that the problem is that the AIQ has read at least some of the other two books -- remember that the OP said she'd told her to read the second after starting the first or something like that -- and doesn't like them. And now the AIQ is trying to avoid the conversation, so she says she hasn't read them.

If that's the case, I think that's a pretty crappy thing to do. :-/ That means that the agent doesn't mind stringing her client along just for the sake of avoiding an awkward conversation. If she doesn't like the book, then she should be honest and tell the client why (market reasons/just not something she reps/maybe a genre she's not familiar in etc) instead of saying she'll get to reading it soon, promise.

My old agents were at least honest with me about not wanting to rep my subsequent book because they thought it was too quiet for the market. That honesty helped me make my decision whether I wanted to stay with them or go on a search for a new agent. Without it, I'd still be languishing in their client folder, wondering what's going on with my MS.


Editing and brokering are completely different skills, aren't they? Granted, the agent shouldn't have told her she'd provide that, but at the time, the agent might not have realized the extent of the obligation she was making. The OP is looking to the AIQ to provide guidance, when all the AIQ is trying to do is sell the book.

Ehh, it depends on how editorial the agent is. Again, I feel like honesty is key here. She could say something like: "I don't think I can work with you on this project at the moment because it just has too many issues I don't know how to fix. Maybe you could consider editorial feedback elsewhere?"



I'm not saying this agent doesn't suck. She might. She might be a poser and a wannabe. I don't know. But I think that getting an agent -- someone who can present your finished works to publishers with a modicum of credibility -- is not an easy task, and one might be careful about abandoning the relationship for things that have little do with the actual purpose of the relationship.

I agree that getting an agent is frikkin' hard. :)

OP, before jumping ship, I asked myself: If I end up not getting another agent for Book 3, will I live to regret it? Which is worse, not having an agent at all, or having an agent who isn't interested in a book which I really believe in?

I answered those questions for myself, which made it clear what I had to do. Do think about the worst case scenarios. You COULD very well end up with no agent at all. Unless you are supremely lucky and your work is super in demand, you will probably go through months and months of rejections in the query trenches. Will you be kicking yourself continuously, wishing that you never left your agent? Or will you be glad that you're moving forward on your own?

Be completely sure that you'll be okay with your decision, no matter the outcome, before making it. :)

whiporee
03-31-2015, 08:37 AM
nm

Quickbread
03-31-2015, 09:45 AM
I thought whiporee's advice, while not agreeable to most on this thread, came from a place of helpful intention. I can't say the same for all the snark that's been directed back toward him. Everyone here is just trying to help, and when you ask on a public forum for advice, you have to expect that some of it won't fit your situation, but we're trying our best to help the OP.

amergina
03-31-2015, 11:08 AM
Sorry, I tend to chafe if someone tells me that I'm missinterpiting the business partnership with my agent. She actually is interested in more than just selling the book in front of her...because her actions prove that.

But it's a side tangent from the OP's issue.

Old Hack
03-31-2015, 11:38 AM
Except that without an agent, you're dead in the water. In all likelihood, your book WILL NOT be looked at by publishers without an agent, so you're back to querying again, and as much as we like to think otherwise, querying is a crapshoot.

A poor agent won't get your book in front of the right publishers, won't pitch your book well or appropriately, and if she gets you a contract it will almost certainly be a poor one. So yes, writers are better off unagented than going with an agent like that.

And querying isn't the crapshoot you say it is. Really. I've read enough slush to know that.


I'm sure agents tell clients they don't like their stuff all the time.

They do! But it's usually countered with, "and this is how you make it publishable."


I have one friend (really, my only semi-famous author friend) who tells me she dislikes her agent (she actually told me she doesn't know a writer who likes/relies on their agent), that her agent has never told her she liked a thing she's written. However, her agent sells her stuff and has allowed her a career, so it's a beneficial relationship.

I can't think of any writers I know who don't like their agent. I can't think of any good agents I know who don't like the authors they represent. In many cases (and funnily enough, it tends to be the better agents who fall into this group) authors become good friends with their agents, and are very fond of them.


They all say that. Mine said that. Our contract says she represents everything I write. But the reality is that the agent has no way of knowing what you'll do next -- all she has to go on is the MS in front of her.

The agents I know talk with their author-clients and work out what their next moves will be. As an editor, I've been involved in quite a few discussions with authors and their agents where we've talked about their future projects, where they want to go, and how best to get them there. This doesn't usually happen for big-selling, major authors: it's almost always for midlisters, or debut authors.

Publishers and agents want authors to be successful, and if they're not happy they can't be. We work towards that, as much as we can.


What does this mean? All an agent can do at submission is convince people to read your stuff. That's it. They can't hard sell you to publishers or editors -- all they can do is get people who make those decisions to read what you've written. You want someone who believes in it, sure, but it sounds like the AIQ has gotten it read, just hasn't gotten it bought. If the agent has gotten it read and it hasn't sold, then the fault lies with the writer, not the agent.

Agents do hard-sell to some extent. And if a book hasn't sold then the fault doesn't necessarily lie with its author: it could be that the agent hasn't submitted it to the right people or places, or that the agent hasn't submitted it well, or that the agent has a bad reputation in publishing and the editors don't want to work with her.


I'm not saying this agent doesn't suck. She might. She might be a poser and a wannabe. I don't know. But I think that getting an agent -- someone who can present your finished works to publishers with a modicum of credibility -- is not an easy task, and one might be careful about abandoning the relationship for things that have little do with the actual purpose of the relationship.

I agree that the agent might be fab. We just don't know. However, I do think that it sounds as though this agent isn't an effective agent for Luzoni, and in that case I'm not convinced that this is therefore a relationship worth continuing.


The issue here has always been time. I don't think I'm being the least bit unreasonable to feel that almost a full year, with most of it being waiting on her to read or partially read, the MS, is too long.

That's the crux of the matter, I think. And I agree with you that she's taken far too long.


:e2shrug: My agent sold book 2 in a 2 book deal. Before I finished revising book 1.

And got me another contract on spec.

This is pretty standard for an established writer with a good agent. It's nice, isn't it?

Old Hack
03-31-2015, 12:01 PM
At least half of the best agents I know work full-time at something else. There is nothing whatsoever uncommon about this.

None of the really good agents I know work at anything other than agenting.

It might help if you'd name the agents you know who work full-time at something other than agenting.


That makes even less sense than saying that writers can't be any good unless they write full-time.

Cut the snark, James.


unless the agent has far too many clients, it doesn't take so much time she can't hold another job.

You say an agent who works full-time at agenting has far too many clients, therefore a good agent works only part-time as an agent, and probably has a second job.

What about an agent who has quite a few author-clients, works full-time as an agent and represents all her author-clients effectively? Is that a bad agent? Or how about an agent who has relatively few author-clients, but makes a high number of foreign and subsidiary rights sales for all of them: again, is that a bad agent?

LA*78
03-31-2015, 12:48 PM
I might be wrong, but my understanding was that a large part of an agent's role was making connections with publishers, developing and nurturing those relationships. I also believe the role of the agent is to do what they can to ensure the product they are selling (in this case a novel obviously) is as polished and marketable as it can be. That might be achieved through providing editorial advice to their client, or it might be a suggestion that the client engage the services of an editor. I would also think the agent would provide feedback from unsuccessful submissions so that any major concerns could be addressed before sending future submissions. Of course it's likely the agent would have had to put in their time developing and nurturing those publisher contacts to enable them to freely seek this type of feedback.

I don't agree that an agent must work full-time to be good at their job. I'm sure there are great agents that work part-time for a variety of reasons. But I also don't agree that it is the type of job that can be worked on a casual basis on nights/weekends/holidays/whenIgetasparemoment etc.

Surely writers expect more from their agents than simply an admin assistant to google publisher details and send off emails with the hope they'll get lucky and maybe make some pocket money from a sale.

Barbara R.
03-31-2015, 04:51 PM
So...here's the part I see in big glaring red letters: She's going to TRY to get through my novel over Easter. Back around Thanksgiving she told me she'd read my other book over Christmas. She didn't. Also missing from this email is any kind of promise that I may expect a more rapid response going ahead.

So my gut says I need to get out. She isn't promising to change, just dangling hope in front of me. Would you guys agree?

It's not ideal that she has another job. It means she doesn't have much time for you, and she's unable to make a living (yet) as an agent. It could also indicate less than full commitment. On the other hand, she gets your work and her notes help you improve it. Also on that hand: giving up an agent once you've finally landed on is a very hard thing to do.

You've had good advice and done the right thing by emailing her about your concerns. If this relationship ends, you want to be sure it wasn't for lack of communication. Now she's saying she'll read over Easter. That's just a week away, if my calendar has it right. Why not wait till the holiday's over and see if she keeps her word? Either way it will clarify the situation.

BTW--you should ask to see rejection letters, always. It's useful information for you, since editors usually feel obliged to give some reason for their rejection (which agents don't when writers query.) Second--it keeps your agent honest. It's too easy to say, "yeah, I sent it here, there, and that other place" while the book is gathering dust on the shelf. I knew one agent who held onto a book she'd accepted for a whole year, never made a single submission. What a waste of time.

Good luck!

Luzoni
03-31-2015, 05:37 PM
Barbara, that is AWFUL! Since my agent stopped sending me details (like what editor she subbed to) and doesn't send the rejections anymore...damn. :-(
I can't help but worry that what you're describing is happening to me.

I've asked her to tell me a good time for us to chat by phone, but haven't heard back yet. First I thought I'd tell her it was over but my dad cautioned me and thought I was doing it out of the blue. And I do like her feedback and trust her opinions on the MSs. So I thought I'd try and ask her to commit to a schedule on revisions with me on the call instead. I'd say I want to have her read revs I make in two months. I think that should be more than enough time. If she's too busy sometimes I'd even be willing to wait a bit longer. And I want to know about where my first book is, a whole listing.

I figure if she finds that disagreeable or unreasonable, I can as politely as possible then tell her I want to terminate our contract. Even though I think she's awesome and I've really loved working with her. (sigh)

Luzoni
03-31-2015, 06:11 PM
Oh, forgot to mention my issue with waiting for Easter...I don't want to make her feel like I've used her or been disingenuous. Since she's already been more heavily involved with revs on my second novel I'm worried she will be offended if I back out after she's already given me all her free time Easter only for me to say, "Sorry, I'm leaving."

Plus there's a termination clause in my contract that she gets commission from her work on any project within six months of my leaving. That's great for the one out on sub, but what about the ones she's revising? I'm not querying other agents with the one on sub and none of them would want to touch it anyway. But the one she's looking at now...I'm not sure of that one falls under the termination clause. I hope it doesn't because I want to pitch this one since it has the solid query now with a great opener.

whiporee
03-31-2015, 06:19 PM
I want to clarify two things. The first is that I know that agents want to have long-term relationships with their clients. I didn't mean to insinuate otherwise. But for a debut author, the business at hand is the book in hand, not the other MSes the author has written and wants input on. There are always exceptions that some have been clear to point out, but the in most cases agent is investing unfunded time in the writer, and it would be perfectly reasonable for an agent to want to see how the first work plays out before talking too deeply about the second or third.

The second is that everything has anecdotal evidence to support it, but the mainstream reality seems to be that there are a lot more authors than there are agents, and it would be bad mainstream advice to suggest that unpublished writers dump agents because they are not everything the writer hopes them to be. The OP's agent has gotten the books in front of publishers who have read it; the complaint comes from not being quick enough on giving feedback on two other MSes the author has provided. The consensus after that seems to be the agent isn't very good at her job, isn't professional, isn't really an agent and there OP would be better off without her. While that may be the case, not being fast enough to read two unfinished MSes doesn't seem to cross that threshold to me. (just to anticipate this --the OP said she was waiting for plot reaction which, to me, implies the OP isn't confident that the work works, which is why I called it unfinished.)

Likewise, I wasn't trying to say all authors don't like their agents -- I like mine plenty -- but that the agent's role isn't about writing support unless they have a lot of time on their hands. The agent is about the business of publishing, not the art of writing. They may be skilled at both, but if the agent is taking care of the business side of the relationship, then I believe she is doing the job she's been asked to do.

Lastly, I think everyone who is saying the Op should switch agents is right. If she's dissatisfied with the service she's getting -- and she made it clear above that she doesn't think the agent has the time she needs -- then she should find someone who does.

Barbara R.
03-31-2015, 06:30 PM
Whiporee made the very point I was going to make: that many agents do no editing at all. I've had three agents during my (longish) career. The first two didn't edit, the third does. It's not the agent's job (which is why I was surprised that the OP said her agent is expanding in part by hiring editors), but some do it in order to go out with the strongest possible ms. Others feel editing is not their forte, not their job, and not a good use of their valuable time.

Personally I'd take notes from my agent's cleaning lady if they were good notes; anything that makes the work better is fine with me. But I wouldn't hold it against any agent if they don't offer that service.

What's annoying is when agents do want edits before submitting, but don't get back to you with their notes in a timely fashion. "Timely" in publishing years mean ages in regular time--still, if they can't respond to a client within 2-3 months of receiving the ms., I'd take that as a very bad sign.

Barbara R.
03-31-2015, 06:33 PM
Plus there's a termination clause in my contract that she gets commission from her work on any project within six months of my leaving. That's great for the one out on sub, but what about the ones she's revising? I'm not querying other agents with the one on sub and none of them would want to touch it anyway. But the one she's looking at now...I'm not sure of that one falls under the termination clause. I hope it doesn't because I want to pitch this one since it has the solid query now with a great opener.

The purpose of that clause is to protect the agent in case they make a submission which results in an offer after the writer and agent have parted ways. If they haven't yet started making submissions, this shouldn't apply.

Aggy B.
03-31-2015, 06:55 PM
Yeah. The problem here is not that OP wants feedback on the MS from the agent and the agent doesn't want to give it. It's the question of saying "I'll read it and get back to you," and then months passing. (Coupled with the small alarm bell that the agent has specifically mentioned having time to read over holidays. Which implies she has not much time otherwise.)

Waiting months on a response from a MS is something you expect while querying, but not when one is a client. And the implication that the OP is somehow expecting too much in that regard is part of what provoked the intensity of my response. If the agent promises the client to do something in a certain time frame and then fails (again not by a few weeks, but by several months), it would make me wonder how they deal with other tasks. Do they make these kinds of promises to editors? Do they treat their submission schedule with as much "flexibility"?

It's one thing to say "I'm really slammed right now. I won't be able to get to this until March." But to promise to read over Christmas and then have to promise to read over Easter instead? That's a problem.

It's also something that could be fixed, if the agent is willing and able to get on top of the work she's promising to do. But if she can't (or won't) then staying with her is not likely to be in the OP's best interest. (Especially since it seems that she, like me, is fairly prolific. Waiting years to get the next MS ready for submission is not a practical option.)

Luzoni
03-31-2015, 06:57 PM
Whip, I don't know where you got the idea that I was waiting for something on plot from my agent. Maybe you misread something I said earlier about my agent not knowing about a plot point in one of the other MSs? I don't do revisions unless my agent asks for them, and when she gave me feedback after I asked her to read a third project the feedback revealed she hadn't read hardly any of it because she didn't know the plot. Plus she told me outright she hadn't read much of it. That's what I was trying to say.

I don't want to leave her. I really don't. She's wonderful and I can't praise her enough, but I have serious concerns. The only way a book can sell is if it gets subbed. And based on what Barbara said I'm starting to worry maybe my first book isnt even being subbed anymore, which is really heartbreaking if it's true and would mean I've wasted a year waiting when really that subbed book is never going to sell. I don't want to believe that's what's happening, but without rejections...no proof either way I guess. I just have to do the call and see I suppose.

Quickbread
03-31-2015, 07:11 PM
Luzoni, your call agenda sounds like a good one. I think you're approaching it well, and you're considering it with a level mind. I wouldn't worry about the time your agent put into editing. If she'd been more responsive, she might've avoided such a scenario.

To me, the submission history of the first novel is the bigger concern than manuscript edits. I've heard of agents who like to focus on one project from an author at a time. Others will work with multiple manuscripts at once. That's just a difference in working style. But it's not a good sign that she fell off in responding and communicating about the submission. It could mean she's run out of contacts, or that she doesn't have a strategy for round two or round three, or that she realizes the manuscript needs some fixing but isn't sure what, or that she's simply lost interest or fortitude for the ongoing submission process. If your agent balks at producing the complete submission history, that's a huge red flag. It's totally your right to have that.

Yes, finding an agent is hard, but if you did it once, you will do it again. Every writer I know (including myself) who's parted ways with an unsatisfactory agent has found a better one in due time. Don't stay with someone you're unhappy with out of fear. There are so many great, fast, responsive and hard-working agents out there. Good luck!

Luzoni
03-31-2015, 07:30 PM
Quickbread, so when I call her is there a specific way to ask for the sub list? Should I ask for names of editors as well as publishers and rejection letters? I don't want to leave something out, especially if she balks with more detail I ask. It could give me the evidence I need to be sure one way or another that she's subbing or not subbing. My family and hubby have been concerned that when I ask for that I'm revealing my (likely) intention to leave.

She agreed to a call and said I could call her any time today. She must be off for Easter now.

Quickbread
03-31-2015, 07:54 PM
Someone else who's had a tough conversation with their agent might have more constructive input. When I had the sub list conversation with my agent, he'd already left the business, so it was a transactional sort of call.

But I do think you could raise the issue in an open-ended way that really is just seeking to get to the bottom of her process and how you've been working together. You could say you're concerned about her lack of communication about the first manuscript and that you don't know what's gone on with it for quite some time. And that she seems to not be following through with her promises to review your new work.

Then you could just see what she says about all of it. Probably by the end of the call, you will have a sense of whether you want to stay on and make a go of it with her or terminate. But in either case, if you tell her you've been unhappy about being in the dark for a long time about the submission, it would be a natural follow-up to ask her for the submission history. I'd just make it short and sweet, and ask for the houses, editors and responses. It's standard for writers to know this or else to ask for it, even when the relationship is on good footing.

If she gives you grief about the response details, at least insist on the houses and editors so your next agent can take that into account.

Anecdotally, my ex-agent, when I asked for the submission history, gave me the names of four editors, all of whom had either conveniently left the business in the previous month or two, or who'd changed houses. So basically, he didn't submit my manuscript anywhere. :D

Luzoni
03-31-2015, 08:17 PM
Damn! That's the second story I've heard now where the agent didn't actually ever sub. That sucks!! I know my agent did do quite a number of subs because she did share rejections with me and editor names for about six months. Then it got quiet. :\

Quickbread
03-31-2015, 08:27 PM
Out of curiosity, how many editors are you aware of in the submission history?

Luzoni
03-31-2015, 08:51 PM
At one point she listed eight editors by name. In another email five. Without carefully going back and counting I'd estimate 17 editors who she shared rejections with me on.

Putputt
03-31-2015, 08:52 PM
Good luck on your call, Luz! When I asked for my submissions history, I just said, "When you have the time, could you send me the list of editors you subbed to? Fanks!" They sent it to me the very next day. So don't worry about asking for it, I think it's a completely reasonable thing to ask for. Good luck with the phone call!

Quickbread
03-31-2015, 09:43 PM
The reason I asked is to get a sense of her submission methodology. Do you know if she subbed in rounds or all at once? And did she regroup with you at any point, either via email or phone, to review the feedback as it rolled in?

I'm trying to get a feel for how strategic the agent has been about the submissions. Do you feel like she was being methodical and assessing the submission plan along the way? (At least for those subs you know about.)

Lots of times, the submission process drags on and involves a lot of waiting for the agent, too. But they should have a plan. It's possible that she's been pretty strategic all along and has just been waiting for stragglers to respond before reassessing the plan with you.

Barbara R.
03-31-2015, 10:08 PM
Quickbread, so when I call her is there a specific way to ask for the sub list? Should I ask for names of editors as well as publishers and rejection letters? I don't want to leave something out, especially if she balks with more detail I ask. It could give me the evidence I need to be sure one way or another that she's subbing or not subbing. My family and hubby have been concerned that when I ask for that I'm revealing my (likely) intention to leave.

She agreed to a call and said I could call her any time today. She must be off for Easter now.

One way of doing it would be to state that although some writers don't like seeing rejection letters, you find them edifying, if unpleasant, and so would prefer to get copies of all she's received. Those copies, if she sends them, will reveal the editors' names.

Barbara

Luzoni
03-31-2015, 10:16 PM
She was strategic I think for the first six months. We had an issue where the MS fell in this obnoxious spot where it was an adult topic but YA because of the character ages and the underlying story was about forging identity, finding family and such. My agent doesn't normally cover YA. So she tried submitting it as both to see what the response was, what the editors thought the MS was. We determined it needed to be YA. I did a few small revisions to make it a little less gritty and we did another round. We did regroup when she determined it was more YA than adult that was when I did the additional changes. She submitted in rounds I think. Five or six queries at a time.

But the last rejection she til me about was in June last year. I find it hard to believe there haven't been others. So either she's just not sharing them anymore or...something else is going on...maybe. We were getting pretty rapid responses before. :/

Quickbread
04-01-2015, 12:01 AM
She was strategic I think for the first six months. We had an issue where the MS fell in this obnoxious spot where it was an adult topic but YA because of the character ages and the underlying story was about forging identity, finding family and such. My agent doesn't normally cover YA. So she tried submitting it as both to see what the response was, what the editors thought the MS was. We determined it needed to be YA. I did a few small revisions to make it a little less gritty and we did another round. We did regroup when she determined it was more YA than adult that was when I did the additional changes. She submitted in rounds I think. Five or six queries at a time.

But the last rejection she til me about was in June last year. I find it hard to believe there haven't been others. So either she's just not sharing them anymore or...something else is going on...maybe. We were getting pretty rapid responses before. :/

Ah, that's so illuminating. I'm glad to know she started out professionally and dealt with your manuscript submission in a reasonable manner. I wonder if the fact that she doesn't normally rep YA could be part of the issue. By any chance, are your subsequent manuscripts YA, as well?

Luzoni
04-01-2015, 01:23 AM
The one she's read the least on is the most adult, I think it's NA. There's way too much sex (it's a romance) to be anything but NA or adult. I've been somewhat cursed with a "YA voice" though. The other project, the one she's supposed to read over Easter, is also NA-ish, but my agent says it still reads with a YA voice, despite the characters being in their twenties, which I guess now is "NA." One of my tasks in rev was to try and "mature" it, which was hard b/c I'm not sure how to alter my voice.

But the one on sub has all teenage characters, so in that respect it's classic YA. The other two projects both have older characters.

She may not know YA editors very well, which may get in the way of a sale...? I'm just guessing on that.

Quickbread
04-01-2015, 01:49 AM
It's possible that she's not as connected to YA editors, though if she's in an agency with other experienced agents who have YA contacts, she might get support on that front. Could be something to discuss with her during your call. I wish you lots of luck in sorting it all out.

Fuchsia Groan
04-01-2015, 01:56 AM
In these situations, there comes a time when the agent must do one of the following: (1) Start submitting your new material; (2) Offer editorial feedback on the new material, or at least on the ms. on submission, if she plans on new subs; (3) Say, "Sorry, I don't want to submit any of this; show me something else and I'll consider it"; or (4) Say, "Sorry, I don't want to submit any of this. It's time for us to part ways, so you can see if other agents feel differently."

Sooner or later, the agent will have to pick an option. Question is, how long will you wait? Having a conversation and requesting your sub list could be ways to push the agent to a decision, but that's not a bad thing. There's nothing untoward about requesting a sub list, so it won't push her toward "let's part ways" if she's not already leaning that way.

And if she is leaning that way, you need to know so you can get out there again.

In addition to the sub list, I would ask her outright if she thinks there are any editors left to submit your first book to. Depending on the subgenre, her contacts, and the sub history so far, there might be quite a few, or none. You need to know whether she thinks the book still has prospects, and that seems like reasonable info to request. (Agents on this board, please tell me if I'm wrong. That's just my gut feeling.)

Luzoni
04-01-2015, 03:21 AM
Well, I had the call and maybe I'm just a pushover, but I found myself not convinced as I talked with her that parting ways wouldn't be a huge mistake. When I asked about the book on sub she had quick answers, that it's out with several editors, some of them huge, and she's just in a waiting game. I totally believe her that the book is a hard sell, and she did admit that she's new to YA editors, so she's learning as she goes. She is part of a larger agency that does cover YA, so she should have access to their contacts and knowledge.

I don't know, but listening to her just made me realize that in my effort to be patient, I let her put off my work. It's not fair to me that she did that, but I don't think there was any maliciousness in it. She did sound a little hesitant when I asked for the sub list, which did set off a flare in my head, but she said she'd send it and the details she gave me about where it's at right now make me think it is actually out with editors right now and she's not fibbing. She is running out of places to sub though, but she told me several times she's confident we will find the right editor, that it's just a matter of time.

So I'm staying with her. I did ask her if she thought she could commit to a reading time-scale of say two months. I think that's more than fair and she said she could. She didn't feed me excuses ("Oh, I've been so busy,") or anything like that.

Just...she seemed professional and still invested in me. So I decided to give her another chance. :Shrug: We'll see if she can get my other novel out on sub and sold. That'll be the real test.

LA*78
04-01-2015, 03:47 AM
Sometimes it really is just the squeaky wheel that gets the attention :) She might just be the type of person who finds it easy to put things off until they have to be done. So perhaps make diary note to give her a call in two months if you haven't heard from here first to follow up. Don't be afraid to initiate the conversation if you think she's needing another nudge.

Putputt
04-01-2015, 08:01 AM
Good for you for making the call! I'm glad that it went so well. I agree with LA*78 to not hesitate to nudge her if she hasn't gotten back to you in 2 months.

Quickbread
04-01-2015, 08:22 PM
That's wonderful, Luzoni. I'm glad you guys worked through everything, and you feel better about the future. Definitely hold her to task by checking in with her at promised deadlines.

dondomat
04-11-2015, 10:54 AM
The purpose of that clause is to protect the agent in case they make a submission which results in an offer after the writer and agent have parted ways. If they haven't yet started making submissions, this shouldn't apply.

I have a slightly deraily question here: if I have books A and B with an agent, and then decide I want a new agent for book C, and books A and B have not sold during my time with agent number one--what is their status?
Does agent one pull the submissions so that agent two can take them over after dealing with book C, or...?

Debbie V
04-14-2015, 05:49 PM
This depends on your contract with agent one. In any case, agent two may not be interested in those books depending on how widely they've been subbed and rejected.

dondomat
04-20-2015, 03:58 PM
Thanks