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AustinT
05-05-2017, 12:30 AM
Hello, all --

I've been having second thoughts about my agent, and I'm hoping one of you might have had a similar experience you can share that would help guide me.

Way back in the summer of 2014, I queried an agent I'd met a couple times through an acquaintance. I received a request for the full novel manuscript, and six months later had a follow-up call where she sounded excited and eager to represent the novel. She came aboard as my agent. She gave me some notes, and asked for a re-write and synopses for sequel titles so that it could pitched to publishers as a series. This was in April 2015. I turned those around for her, received an eager-sounding reply that she'd be getting to it soon, and... nothing.

As the months went on, I'd occasionally nudge over E-mail and receive a generally enthusiastic response and something along the lines of it being next on her pile. I don't want to keep waiting to go out, of course, and so I start writing a non-fiction project. After a year has passed, we have a follow-up call where she promises me that the manuscript is still next on her pile. I tell her about the non-fiction project, which she sounded excited about, and we got about working on proposal for that concurrently to the fiction manuscript. Fast forward another year to January of 2017, and the novel still hasn't gone out and, honestly, it's killed my confidence in it. Why has it taken her so long? Does she not like the book anymore? I follow up and she assures me it's still on her pile, but she thought my focus on the non-fiction project. (It is now, but that only came about because nothing was happening with the novel.) We talk it through, clear up the misunderstanding, and I'm told she'll get to my novel soon.

Five months have passed. Almost three years total have gone by since I submitted to the agency. Am I crazy to feel like this has been an incredibly long time to wait on sending out a manuscript, even in the slow-ish world of publishing? In the meantime, I've been building a lot of traction for the non-fiction project on my own, and now I'm not sure I want to entrust it to someone who's essentially sat on my last project for several years.

She's a reputable agent, and I know some of her other clients, who are all happy. Maybe she's just not the one for me? Does that happen? I like her as a person, and she's been supportive advocate of my freelance writing career on social media -- but in the end, I want more from my writing than Twitter likes. Again, the years of being stalled have made me feel like maybe she doesn't care for my writing after all.

Do I need to break it off?

Thank you for any advice.

lizmonster
05-05-2017, 01:01 AM
AustinT, it's not clear from this - does she actually represent you? Or is she still waiting to read your full?

AustinT
05-05-2017, 01:10 AM
AustinT, it's not clear from this - does she actually represent you? Or is she still waiting to read your full?

Thanks for replying. Yes, she does represent me -- she's given me notes on the full, which I revised for her. No contract, though, as she said that's not something they do until they're about to send out.

Cyia
05-05-2017, 01:22 AM
No contract, though, as she said that's not something they do until they're about to send out.

This is very weird. That contract protects both of you. It makes sure she reps you, but it also makes sure you don't take book she's worked on and sign with someone else.

Quickbread
05-05-2017, 01:58 AM
I agree, that's very weird. To send a contract only when she's ready to submit works in her favor, not yours. Agents often read fulls and make comments for writers they don't represent when they want R&Rs from those writers. How did the offer of representation come? Did she call you and offer to represent your manuscript? I'm just trying to get a sense of what the agreement entailed in lieu of a contract. Also, is this agent legit and making sales on a regular basis?

Frankly, even if she's legit and considers herself your agent, this is horribly slow service. Have you had a frank talk with her about her lack of responsiveness? Publishing time is slow, but I don't think it should be that slow.

mrsmig
05-05-2017, 02:09 AM
The fact that she's been sitting on your book since April 2015 and hasn't even submitted it is all kinds of wrong. If she's your agent, that's what agents DO.

Sounds like you need a serious discussion with her, and a firm timeline if she's going to represent you. Otherwise, pull the manuscript and move on. If one agent liked it, another is bound to like it, too.

AustinT
05-05-2017, 02:55 AM
I agree, that's very weird. To send a contract only when she's ready to submit works in her favor, not yours. Agents often read fulls and make comments for writers they don't represent when they want R&Rs from those writers. How did the offer of representation come? Did she call you and offer to represent your manuscript? I'm just trying to get a sense of what the agreement entailed in lieu of a contract. Also, is this agent legit and making sales on a regular basis?

She called, yes, offered to rep, and then we chatted about the manuscript for almost two hours. She even went so far as to talk about the type of publishers she'd want to pitch it to to. She's referred to me as her client on social media, as well, so I don't think there's any confusion there. And she is a legit agent -- when I told her about the non-fiction project I was working on, she sent me several of the proposals for NF books she'd sold recently as a guideline for my own proposal.


Frankly, even if she's legit and considers herself your agent, this is horribly slow service. Have you had a frank talk with her about her lack of responsiveness? Publishing time is slow, but I don't think it should be that slow.

We had a frank talk in January, after which she apologized and (again) promised it was next on her pile. I must be nuts for believing that yet again -- but, she is a legit agent, selling her other clients' work, which is why I've given her more leeway than I probably ever should have.

AustinT
05-05-2017, 02:57 AM
The fact that she's been sitting on your book since April 2015 and hasn't even submitted it is all kinds of wrong. If she's your agent, that's what agents DO.

Sounds like you need a serious discussion with her, and a firm timeline if she's going to represent you. Otherwise, pull the manuscript and move on. If one agent liked it, another is bound to like it, too.

Thank you. Yes, it's time to jump on the phone and get some firm answers.

Undercover
05-05-2017, 03:14 AM
Just because she's legit, that doesn't make her a "good agent." If she hasn't submitted your work at all and it's been taking 3 years and you've had talks about this already, if I were you, I would terminate her and move on. That's just too too long. Sounds like she's been blowing you off way too long. She's holding you up big time. I wouldn't take another minute of it. But then again, that's just me. take or toss. But it sounds like you've been unhappy with her for years and that just isn't right at all. All talking to her is going to do is prolong it more.

I know it's incredibly difficult to get an agent, but this isn't how it should work.

lizmonster
05-05-2017, 03:18 AM
Thank you. Yes, it's time to jump on the phone and get some firm answers.

And if you decide to stay with her, get a written contract. Truly. It protects both of you.

Quickbread
05-05-2017, 05:58 AM
I agree with Undercover on this. Glad she's legit, but she also should be timely. It's taken way too long for your manuscript to get out there.

Sheryl Nantus
05-05-2017, 02:12 PM
I agree. I know it's terrifying - the idea of dropping her and beginning the search again, but at this point you've got nothing to lose.

Or, and it's all depending on how the call goes, give her one more month and ask for receipts on where it's been submitted. If she really wants one last chance and you're willing to give it to her. No mercy, receipts and right away.

Good luck.

Aggy B.
05-05-2017, 03:51 PM
Legit or not, loving your book or not, it's clear that she is not making your work any sort of a priority. If you leave now, the plus side is she hasn't subbed your novel anywhere. You have a clean break to go to other agents and say "Here's a thing. Let's sell it." If you wait to see if she's going to start (finally) working for you, then you risk her rushing submissions and burning any bridges to those editors for that book in the future. (Which isn't the end of the world, but would mean if you do switch agents you'd need a new book to query.)

Like everyone else, I think this is way too long to wait for her to start sending your MS out. With the caveat that every agent is different, here's a touch of perspective. My agent is legit. He reps NYT bestsellers, legit award nominees and winners. He also reps me. So far we have not sold any of my novels, but he is working to find homes for those MSs. He is always eager to look at new work, provide notes, and start the submissions process for something new once the previous project starts to cool off. He doesn't make me wait years before sending something out.

There's a difference between "busy" and "you're not a priority". The latter is unlikely to change, even if you do convince your agent to finally put your MS out there.

Best of luck, whatever you decide to do.

Thedrellum
05-05-2017, 07:43 PM
Agreeing with pretty much everyone, with a hard vote to leave. Submitting is a long, long process (or can be) and you haven't even reached that stage yet. She seems to be brushing you off every time you talk--or showing interest and then forgetting about you immediately. It doesn't matter if she's the biggest agent in the business, because she's not good for you, apparently.

This behavior on her part is indefensible, I feel like, at least from what you've said.

If you stay, I'd have a very direct and hard conversation with her, get a contract signed, and establish deadlines for when things will happen.

Either way, good luck.

AustinT
05-05-2017, 08:34 PM
Thank you, everyone, for the advice! It's definitely assured me I'm within my rights to feel neglected, and to cut myself free.

I'll give an update once we've had our talk.

stormie
05-05-2017, 09:31 PM
Years ago I had a very good agent with a top agency. His agency used the "handshake" contractual agreement. BUT he sent an email confirming his representation of my work. You should have something to confirm the contract for representation. And as for the months/years you've been on her back-burner...not good.

Let us know how it goes.