View Full Version : What is the etiquette for searching for a second agent while agented?

Elspeth Hall
06-01-2016, 07:00 PM
I currently have an agent who I like a lot, but they only represent YA. I completed an adult novel which I love, and although he liked it, he doesn't feel he can sell it, as it's outside his area of expertise.
The problem is, I'm feeling burned out on YA, and I really want to peruse the adult novel, as I think it could be a series, and more importantly, I'm actually enjoying writing again for the first time in years.
I'm supposed to be editing a YA ms for my original agent currently, but my heart isn't in the book at all, and I don't know whether to slog through it, or let him know the project is dead.
I've been thinking of putting my energy into searching for an different agent for my completed adult work, since my current agent expressly said he wasn't interested in representing it, but I'm not sure of the etiquette involved.

Would another agent even be interested in representing my adult fiction if I'm already agented? I have fulfilled the terms of my contract with my current agent, and could drop him if I had to, but I'm too cowardly to take the leap and be agentless again while I try to get an adult fiction career started. I may want to write more YA in the future, and I'm wary of having to start the agent search all over again from scratch, and ending up with no agent at all.
does anyone have any advice, or been through a similar thing?

06-01-2016, 07:12 PM
The first thing you need to do is talk to your current agent about this. Full stop.

If you truly don't want to work on the YA manuscript, you need to tell him.

And you need to talk to him about whether you want him to remain your agent, if it's fine to pursue an agent more suitable for your adult manuscript, or whether you should dissolve ties.

The key to a good business relationship with your agent is communication, and that's a two-way street.

Old Hack
06-01-2016, 07:28 PM
Seconding the advice to talk to your current agent before you go looking for a new one.

I'll move this to Ask The Agent.

06-01-2016, 07:56 PM
I'm not agented, but this also seems like a good illustration of something a writer should think of before looking for an agent, something I've been thinking of a lot myself: attempting to find an agent who works in as many of the genres the writer is interested in as possible. It's one thing to decide you would like to focus on one genre for your writing career, and many do well in just one genre and are happy there, but if you're interested in more than one from the smart it is a bit like shooting yourself in the foot to limit your agent choices to just YA/Horror/Historical/Literary/whatever.

If you do decide to get back into the querying trenches for more than just this novel, I'd probably pick ones with multiple genre specialties. No need to needlessly limit yourself.

*goes back to looking at agents*

06-02-2016, 01:05 AM
I agree with everyone you need to discuss this with your agent first. There are definitely some kid-lit/YA agents who will submit and agent adult work for their clients. And there are also some who don't mind you having an agent to represent your non-YA stuff. It just depends on the agent. But a discussion should be had before you make a decision.

My kid-lit only agent and I parted ways because I was writing a lot outside of those categories and I really needed someone with deeper connections in certain categories/genres. It was really tough (and sad!) because she is absolutely fantastic, sold my debut beautifully, totally changed my life and when I signed with her I would've never predicted my career would take off in these different directions that it did. But at the end of the day, my career, as it had evolved, was going to be better served with someone who represented all the age categories and genres I was writing in. So we parted ways amicably and I went and found an agent who represented the many kinds of books I was writing and it all worked out.

06-05-2016, 03:37 AM
Is it possible (or even wise) to deal with multiple agents who focus on different genres concurrently? If it doesn't affect each other's turf, they should be fine with it.

06-05-2016, 04:06 AM
You *can* have multiple agents for different genres, yes. BUT you absolutely need to be on the up and up about it with EVERYONE involved.

Which means that the original poster needs to talk to her current agent about it.

CL Polk
06-05-2016, 04:38 AM
Definitely talk to your agent. It doesn't have to be bad, and you don't even necessarily have to leave your current agent!

Old Hack
06-05-2016, 10:56 AM
Echoing what's already been said: some people have more than one agent and so long as everyone knows about it and is fine with it, it can work well.

However, it can also be difficult and confusing, so think carefully before taking that route. For example, what happens if you write something which both agents want to represent?

06-07-2016, 12:46 AM
There's also a great reason to talk to your current agent, especially if you like them and they are doing a good job. They may be looking to expand what they rep or they may have another agent in the agency who reps the new genre. At the very least, they may tell you they don't rep this genre but they know another top-notch agent who does and is looking for new clients. Then they may refer you.

Anything you can do to maintain your agent and agency is a good thing. Word gets around quickly in this business and you don't want to soil your reputation.


06-07-2016, 01:21 PM
When I signed with my agent she said if I ever wrote something she didn't think she could sell, she'd be happy for me to search for another agent for it.

06-11-2016, 09:59 AM
Substitute the word "spouse" for "agent", and matters will become clear.