View Full Version : How do you know when it's time to part ways with your agent?

08-29-2018, 11:24 PM
Hi everyone!

I'm new here, and wanted to start a discussion about a tough topic I've been mulling around. How do you know when it's time to part ways with your agent?

Backstory: I'm a YA fiction author. I've been querying off and on for a few years, but finally landed an agent sixteen months ago with a new manuscript I was excited about. Let's call this agent Bob. Bob was excited too, and we moved really quickly from initial query to full request to revision request to offer of representation within about two weeks. I was thrilled. He was a newer agent, although I wasn't too concerned because he had a good amount of other experience in the book industry. Being that he was new, I actually signed with both him and the head of the agency, so I'm technically co-represented by both. I've only spoken with the head of the agency once, and Bob is the one that works directly with me.

I was impressed with Bob as his feedback was always helpful and he seemed genuinely interested in my vision for the novel and how to best revise to fit that vision. He was very active on Twitter, further convincing me of his commitment to the industry and other authors. I went on submission over a year ago to the first round of editors: about 12 primarily from the biggest publishing houses. He sent me their names so I was kept updated. Though it was turned down, many of the rejections were quite positive, leaving me hopeful for future rounds of submissions.

Around this time, I began working on the second novel I planned to submit to Bob. He recommended I send him an outline/chapters as I completed them. As this was mostly just me doing heavy revisions on another draft I wrote previously, I agreed this was a good way to tackle the project. I emailed him my chapter outlines and plans near the end of December. In mid-February, he finally set up a date to chat over what I'd sent so far. Day-of, he texted and requested to reschedule our call because he had no voice, but wanted to text over what I'd sent so far that afternoon. Okay. Being that he'd had this short document for two months, I expected a very serious conversation about plot line and development. It was painfully obvious that he had not read the chapter summaries I'd sent until this day. He sent texts chapter by chapter, saying that this one sounded good, he couldn't say much about this yet, this other one sounded interesting, etc. Okay. Fine. Essentially I had no further direction than I started with, which was frustrating since he suggested talking through my plot together. (And it's not as if it's perfect)

About a month later, in March, he mentions finally sending the first novel out to a second round of editors. (I should add at this point I have been periodically asking for several months when this would happen and what the timeline was he was thinking) I said great and that I looked forward to seeing the list. It didn't finally go on another round of submissions until May, ten full months after the first round of submissions. I know nothing in the book industry is fast, but I wasn’t even doing revisions in that time. We were not working on anything.

About three months after that round of subs, he mentioned that “we need to be looking into some new rounds fairly soon to keep things moving,” which seems quite odd to me, as in my experience the author isn’t at all involved in sending out submissions or picking editors. Nor do I expect to be. This seems to be something he should already be doing.

Two weeks ago, I emailed him the full draft of my new novel, the one from the chapter summaries. One week went by and he did not respond. I emailed again. Four more days went by with no response. Being that in the past he’s said some of my emails went to spam (which seems impossible if I’m always communicating via the same email address), I texted him to ensure he received them. He said, “yes, sorry for the delay!” It’s now been almost another week with no further communication. I’m not asking for him to fly through the novel. I get that people are busy. I would, however, appreciate a note that he would be diving into this in xx time frame.

In the past year, Bob has slowly gone AWOL on Twitter and most other communication methods. He has begun tweeting periodically about working 80-90 hours a week, which I am sympathetic to, and I know many agents have other jobs, but I feel like just a casualty. There was so much communication at the beginning, and now it’s not unusual for weeks or even months to pass with no communication. I’m not asking for magic or whining because my book hasn’t sold yet. I just feel like I’m not being represented the way I should be, and I fear that Bob is just getting farther and farther away from agenting.

I’m not happy, and am trying to decide the best course of action. Advice of most friends + family is to stop working with him altogether. I'm considering involving the head of the agency who co-represents me with my concerns.


08-30-2018, 12:31 AM
I think you're well within your rights to email both Bob and the head of the agency and outline your concerns. I don't have a huge amount of experience, but I don't think your expectations are at all out of line. I'd be particularly concerned by Bob's apparent drop-off in interest both around subbing your first novel and looking at your second. His disappearing act on Twitter isn't particularly confidence-inducing, either, given that it's a marked change from his behavior when you first signed with him. (There may in fact be a perfectly reasonable explanation for that - life happens, after all - but I'd consider it a yellow flag at least.)

Chuck Wendig has a good blog post about this. (http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2017/02/14/is-it-time-dear-writer-to-ditch-your-literary-agent/) From my own experience...it's certainly worth a serious conversation if you're comfortable having it, but when all is said and done, follow your nose. Nobody likes having to look for a new agent, but yow, it sucks beyond belief trying to stick with the wrong one.