Thank you, liz. Great post.

I've had two agents; neither experience ended well. The first agent lied about subbing and then up and quit. The second loved me when I was shiny and new, but dropped me for shinier and newer. I refused to see the signals because at first everything was great.

I've been published with a few medium to small publishers. I'm still aiming at a breakout novel.

I've had agented contracts and contracts I signed myself. Short story contracts are simpler and I read + sign those on my own. However, I will say this: a good agent is trained to see through the legalese of detailed contracts (multi-book, for ex.). No one expects things to go south. A good agent has your back. I won't sign a book contract without first signing with a proven agent I can trust again.