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View Full Version : Have to fire agent, but we had a handshake deal...



Treehouseman
08-14-2015, 09:22 AM
Hi everyone.

About 12 months ago I had a handshake deal to be repped by an agent (fairly common, I know).

Now its time to let them go. We haven't sold any books (I would go out on a limb and say we might not have even gone on sub, given the extended radio silence)

Is there anything that's different, seeing no explicit agreement was ever agreed upon? Is there a minimum time I have to wait, or can I metaphorically dump their stuff on the lawn and change the locks straight away?


*Edit To Add: I'll be shopping a new project, different genre, so sub-lists are not a consideration.

MandyHubbard
08-14-2015, 08:53 PM
Hi everyone.

About 12 months ago I had a handshake deal to be repped by an agent (fairly common, I know).

Now its time to let them go. We haven't sold any books (I would go out on a limb and say we might not have even gone on sub, given the extended radio silence)

Is there anything that's different, seeing no explicit agreement was ever agreed upon? Is there a minimum time I have to wait, or can I metaphorically dump their stuff on the lawn and change the locks straight away?


*Edit To Add: I'll be shopping a new project, different genre, so sub-lists are not a consideration.

In the absence of a written contract where you would cite any particular paragraph/clause, I would simply pen a short email, saying thank you for your work to date you have decided to terminate representation with X agency.

Send a copy of that via snail mail if you want, but probably don't have to. You have no contractual obligation to the agency.

Treehouseman
08-18-2015, 12:16 PM
Cheers, Thanks!

Katharine Tree
08-22-2015, 02:39 AM
I have a tag-along question: when first signing with an agent, how would it appear to say "this relationship lasts for one year. If at that point you haven't sold the book, we part ways"? Unnecessarily negative, or honest and up front? I don't want to deal with radio silence from someone who's supposed to be working with me.

Captcha
08-22-2015, 03:13 AM
I have a tag-along question: when first signing with an agent, how would it appear to say "this relationship lasts for one year. If at that point you haven't sold the book, we part ways"? Unnecessarily negative, or honest and up front? I don't want to deal with radio silence from someone who's supposed to be working with me.

I'd say you'd be better off with a "this agreement can be terminated by either side at any time" term. I mean, if you've got an agent who doesn't respond to your communication (in a reasonable time), you want to fire them before waiting a full year. Alternatively, if things are going really well and you're confident that your agent is on the right track, you may very well want to extend things beyond one year even if something hasn't sold yet.

Why tie yourself down to an arbitrary deadline?

Katharine Tree
08-22-2015, 03:24 AM
Why tie yourself down to an arbitrary deadline?

Tru dat.

Toothpaste
08-22-2015, 08:18 AM
Also I don't fully get this obsession with selling this one and only book that I see often in this section. Do people not realise that not every book sells? That even good books with good agents simply don't find a spot due to market trends or whathaveyou? Just because an agent can't sell a particular work within a particular time frame doesn't make them a bad agent, or even a bad agent for you. What's with this all or nothing mentality? Agents are there for more than just one book, they are part of your team, they are there for you, the author, for all your work. And surely as an author you have more than one book in you.

I have a friend who landed an agent with a book, couldn't sell it, sold a different series and then, many years down the line, they revisited that first book, gave it a solid once over edit to make it more current and then sold it. Should my friend have dumped her agent because she couldn't sell that first book? Had she the subsequent book deals (and she's had many more) might not have happened, who knows (one was based on a request by an editor, not based on an already written work). Heck when I signed with my now agent, the first two books she repped for me didn't sell. The third did. Finally the second one sold, but the first? Still out there. YEARS later. And she's a fantastic agent.

Writing is a long game, not a quick sale. I think I've literally said the exact same words before in a similar kind of thread before. Breaking up with an agent should only happen if you don't think they are communicating well with you, if you don't think they understand your work, if they aren't subbing your stuff to the correct places. But don't end a relationship with an agent just because they can't sell that one book if all the other things are going well. That's just not how this business works. Sometimes there's really no one to blame. It's just bad luck.

mccardey
08-22-2015, 08:26 AM
Also I don't fully get this obsession with selling this one and only book that I see often in this section. Do people not realise that not every book sells?

<<snip>>Breaking up with an agent should only happen if you don't think they are communicating well with you, if you don't think they understand your work, if they aren't subbing your stuff to the correct places. But don't end a relationship with an agent just because they can't sell that one book if all the other things are going well. That's just not how this business works. Sometimes there's really no one to blame. It's just bad luck.

Absolutely true, but OP does mention "extended radio silence" and the fact that the book may not have been subbed.

Treehouseman
08-23-2015, 01:23 PM
Yep McCardey, that was pretty much it. I would have been satisfied - as anyone would be - with updates of the rejections I was getting and a "this book isn't working, let's try with another one."

We went on sub, and I heard nothing more. I didn't even KNOW there'd been a pass by all on the first round until the ex replied after I told them it was time to part ways. No question of a second round had ever been tabled. NOTHING! And I could have waited another 6 months in that limbo, and I made a run for it, and I'm so glad I did. New work, new agents interested. It is a business, yes. I'm actually in a better place than I was when I first made this post ;-)

Toothpaste
08-23-2015, 11:52 PM
Absolutely true, but OP does mention "extended radio silence" and the fact that the book may not have been subbed.

I apologise, I was actually responding to Katharine Tree, not the OP. I didn't like her suggestion of limiting a contract with an agent to one year if the book hasn't been sold. I should have quoted her in my response to be more clear, that's my fault. I'm sorry.

That being said, I believe my response took Treehouseman's situation into consideration when I wrote: "Breaking up with an agent should only happen if you don't think they are communicating well with you, if you don't think they understand your work, if they aren't subbing your stuff to the correct places."

Treehouseman
08-24-2015, 12:15 PM
That's cool, Toothpaste. It's not something so cut and dried as OMG Agent, you suck! THere could be reasons to hang on to them. I'd have stuck around if we'd talked more, LOL

Fuchsia Groan
08-25-2015, 06:52 AM
While I agree with everything Toothpaste said, it's worth noting that sometimes it's the agent who doesn't want to see more work or do further subs, and initiates the breakup. Also, some agents do write a one-year term (with possible extension) into their contracts. But it's not something I'd ever request.