Pub Rants

Saying Goodbye to Your Agent

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STATUS: Unbelievable but true. I’m traveling again. This time not for business. A family reunion in Milwaukee. In truth, I just want to work for the next 2 weeks solid and get caught up rather than travel (sad but true)! I’m so happy that there are no other trips scheduled until October.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? My sister-in-law is playing a song on a baby toy. Don’t recognize the tune. My new nephew (Toby) is 6 months old.

Two weeks ago I was fired.

It came out of the blue via a certified letter. I’ve had a couple of weeks to get used to it but it still hurts—although it happens to all agents at any given time in our career.

But let me clarify. It doesn’t hurt because she fired me; it hurts because she didn’t talk to me first. We didn’t get a chance to discuss any issues nor did I have an opportunity to fix what was wrong. I had no idea that she was considering it.

And actually, to give my former client her due, it was a really nice letter. She really acknowledged all the time we spent together doing revisions etc. In fact, I don’t think it was a bad move on her part. She was one of the first clients I took on (in the infancy of my agency) and even though I shopped two of her manuscripts, I never could sell her.

Maybe what she really needs is a fresh perspective to really jumpstart where she is in her career. I totally respect that.

But darn it, I feel like I failed her and I have to rant just a little about the certified-letter approach.

I know the agenting/author relationship is a strange one. After all, agenting is the only job I know where the agent chooses whether a client hires her or not and the client doesn’t get to decide until offered. In that context, that is a little odd. But if you, as the author, are thinking about walking, why wouldn’t you talk with the agent first before taking that step? It’s a tiny bit of consideration and I’m sure that if the circumstances were reversed and you were about to be fired from your job, you’d want a chat or a heads up first, right?

Now wait. I know you are all planning to jump in here and say stuff like, “I can’t get my agent to return my phone calls or emails,” or “my agent embezzled my money or is a drunk” or anything else equally reprehensible.

If that’s the case, I certainly don’t blame you for walking and power to you for doing it. I’m talking about agents who have worked hard and have been communicative. Who have done their jobs to the best of their ability.

It’s okay to want to leave. I’m just saying I wouldn’t mind a phone call first. At the very least, allow me to say good-bye and good luck.

59 Responses

  1. 2readornot said:

    I hear you…I hope that if I’m ever in those circumstances, I’ll have the courtesy to talk first. But I know how intimidating talking can be…usually not for me, but I’ve had many people tell me over the years that they find ME intimidating. Hope your visit is nice and eases your sadness some.

  2. Kristin said:

    I think it’s just plain old confrontation issues. A lot of people hate to confront an unpleasant task…especially if it involves a friend (or a really nice agent). A certified letter is a way to get your thoughts down on paper without having the emotional issues that would come with conversing over the phone.

    Just my take on it.

    A lot of us writers are an introverted bunch and don’t do well expressing ourselves verbally. Could be it just made her very uncomfortable to even think about having to tell you something this unpleasant over the phone or face to face.

  3. Maria said:

    Some agents would probably prefer NO phone call so it’s a tough decision.

    It’s awkward for everyone. If the client called and said, “I’m thinking of moving on,” you’d be caught flat-footed. Then there’d have to be a second conversation (because it would only be fair to let you think about it before discussing).

    Breaking up is never easy. While a letter may seem cold, it may actually be easier on you both. It was professional. You had time to think about it without stuttering, saying something you’d wish you phrased better…etc.

    Neither of you has to prop the other up, say nice things or go back and forth over “whose fault” or “Could I have done more.”

    It sounds to me like the client left on professional terms–which means if you ever see her again, professional conversation is still possible and someday that, “clean up conversation” can still take place. It might just be better left until later.

  4. WitLiz said:

    Well, this is just total bullshit! A certified letter? Are you kidding me?

    There are no excuses for this kind of behavior. Good manners have nothing to do with personality, and have everything to do with being thoughtful, and considerate of someone else’s feelings. Taking the easy way out, to avoid confrontation, is the cowards way out.

    This was a totally selfish thing to do. And if you’re reading this, Ms Client, you need to get on the phone and apologize.

    I have zero tolerance for this kind of thing. As you can tell.

  5. Anonymous said:

    It doesn’t sound like Kristin wanted a phone call in lieu of the letter, but a phone call (or email if that’s more comfortable) before it got to the point of letter writing or thinking of moving on. Sort of like before your boss fires you when you had no idea she was thinking of pink slips. You’d expect her to first tell you she’s not happy with your performance, then tell you why, and then give you a chance to decide if you’d like to, or whether you can, fix the problem.

    That shouldn’t be a confrontation or freak out any introverts. It’s simply a business discussion – here’s why I’m not getting what I need from this venture, let’s decide whether we can fix it or not. And if not, both parties move on. No drama, all business.

  6. Kristin said:

    Hey, I never said it was okay or acceptable for this person to only write a letter. I was just trying to explain why someone might behave this way. Agent Kristin sounded perplexed by this behavior, I was offering some reasoning for it.

    As much as I would hate to call my agent on the phone and tell her what I was feeling about our relationship, I would MAKE myself do it. But not everyone has the strength of character to overcome his or her weaknesses in the area of communication.

    Yes, it was a lousy way to say goodbye. I agree on that point for sure!

  7. Cindy Procter-King said:

    Actually, Witliz, even if you prefer the certified letter with phone calls and emails, from what I know it’s standard procedure to send the letter. You’re terminating a contract, after all.


  8. Anonymous said:

    I could vomit because it’s like this letter is talking to me, except my agent, my lovey-love sweet wonderful agent that I could talk to about all kinds of stuff besides my books quit talking to me. I sent e-mails, what’s the status on this? On that? I sent a card congratulating her on something personal, and she said nothing.

    So when the time came, I didn’t call. I just sent a letter because there was no way I could be professional. There was no way for me to say, “Do you still like me? Do you still think I’m pretty?” I didn’t call because how do you ask someone if they believe in you anymore? How do you prepare yourself to hear them say no? How do you believe them if they manage a yes?

    You can’t. You don’t.

    So the next best thing is avoiding a scene. I shall put your things in a box and return them, and I trust my CDs will come back unbroken, thank you very much, and here’s my key. Please stop all efforts on work titled X, Y, Z, and I would appreciate a list of your submissions on my behalf, thank you.

    If we didn’t do it that cool and impersonal way, we’d cry and say angry things and accuse and *burn bridges* and it might be fun to be the girl who gets drunk at parties and phones an ex, but we have to be businesslike! And professional! We mustn’t take an editor’s rejections personally, it is merely a suggestion when a publisher says to add life to lifeless prose, it’s not a comment on you as a person when an agent says “This is not for me.”

    I cried and I cried while I wrote the letter, and tried to tell myself that the printer breaking down when I tried to print was a sign that I should wait (what? another month? another two?) and then I cried when she sent a kind note along with the spreadsheet with my submission data in it, as requested, two days after I sent the letter regular post. Wow. She’d been out there all along.

    It’s different, like you said. You didn’t avoid your client like my agent avoided me. Still, I’d bet that once upon a time, you were hope for her, and that hope died in moments that meant nothing individually, nothing big enough to mention singularly, but over the months and years, they collect. They gather, and suddenly you realize there are so many, they ferment.

    By the time you lose faith in someone else’s faith in you, it’s all rhetorical. It can’t be fixed. So you write a letter, because on paper, you can be composed and gracious. You can say thank you, and mean it, without adding “but…” You write a letter because words on paper are really all you ever were, and when this strange business-love relationship is over, it’s all you have left.

  9. Anonymous said:

    I’m one of those writers guilty of firing my agent via a certified letter as per the terms in my contract. But let me just add I had tried to talk to her via phone or IM or email and either couldn’t get through or on the few occasions I did, I got told a load of rubbish that I knew for a fact to be total lies. After two months of going round and round in circles trying to get honest answers from her, of finding out my manuscripts weren’t where she told me they were, of other clients contacting me and telling me they were having the same problem, of finding out her phone had been disconnected, I didn’t have any other option but to follow the terms of the contract and send her a certified letter.

  10. McGirl said:

    I’m not a published author, agent, or editor, but in my professional career anything that makes anyone feel bad, is bad. You just don’t do it. There are times you have to say hard things or discuss delicate issues, but by addressing them honestly and directly, with specifics or examples, and *immediately*, you can avoid hard feelings.

    I’d guess that this client didn’t let Kristin know about the small things she viewed as troublesome as they were happening. Direct, immediate, specific feedback might helped avoid the severance letter situation altogether — and if not, it wouldn’t have come as a hurtful shock.

    I’ve found that the “direct, immediate, specific feedback” mantra helps in all situations, from any perspective – agent, author, kids, in-laws, you name it. I’ve been using it not only at work but with my husband.

  11. Eileen said:

    I find at times like this snuggling a dog is very helpful. They aren’t capable of sending letters and always love you.

  12. Anonymous said:

    I would love to hear Agent Kristin’s thoughts about what I should expect from my agent. My book was sold to a major publisher. The publisher and the editor have been great, but I am new to all this, so I have some questions. I know that my agent is very busy, and difficult to reach on the phone, so I email her (probably 5 times in the last 3 months). Either I don’t get a response, or a week later I get a short, curt reply that doesn’t address my question. On one occaision I did call her because I needed her advice quickly. I told her assistant that it was urgent and to please return my call asap. Five days (!!) later I got an email saying “Oh, did you call?”

    My question is, what should I expect from my agent after the deal is made? My book is coming out very soon, and I am nervous about my book tour and what to say, interviews, etc. I believed that my agent would be available for advice, but no. Just yesterday I sent her some copies of some nice early reviews. The response was “good.” That’s it!

    Am I expecting too much from my agent?

  13. December Quinn said:

    Wow, 9:15 anonymous…that was amazing. I have faith in you after reading that!

    And I think you hit the nail on the head, too. It’s hard to have faith in yourself, but even harder to have faith in someone’s else’s faith in you.

    Persoanlly, I probably wouldn’t have said anything because that’s the kind of conversation that, even if it turns out you agree to “stay together” (as it were), means there has been serious damage done to the relationship. Some of the trust is gone. It’s like trying to talk your husband out of a divorce–how much trust will you have that he’s really there because he wants to be, after he’s said he’s thinking of leaving?

  14. Nicky said:

    I agree with the view that says this was probably about confrontation issues. Sending a letter (and I’m not referrring to one required ito the agent/writer contract) distances you from conflict – a phone call means you “have” to interact and maybe she just wasn’t up to it – she probably felt really bad about it. I don’t believe that what she did was the best approach but it was clearly right for her and no doubt stemmed from her own stuff. I think we often need to be able to see beyond the obvious to understand someone’s true motivation.

  15. Anonymous said:

    Kristin, I’m sorry to hear you had to experience being fired without any warning or discussion. But, as a professional, you know very well that some agents are dropping clients as if they were hot potatoes, without so much as a certified letter, just a simple e-mail–and with little or no warning, let alone any serious discussion.

    Writers >> For an article on the psychology of the issue of how agents and authors deal with splitting, read this, if you haven’t already:

  16. Anonymous said:

    I got dumped by my agent two weeks before a major conference at which he was gonna do a lot of pitching for me. Duhh. Let’s just say, that didn’t happen, and of course it was “nothing personal” — just business. I got dumped via e-mail. I didn’t like it. One week we were talking about how/where he was planning to pitch the second project he’d handled for me, the next week he was “downsizing.” I never got any substantive reasons why it was me he dumped rather than some of the others.

    Later on, I heard he’d dumped several other writers who didn’t think they’d get cut.

    And a certified letter, though regrettable in its formality, is necessary when breaking a contract. Otherwise how would the author know she doesn’t still owe the agent 15% of everything?

  17. Ryan Field said:

    After working for that length of time, a phone call would have been more appropriate. It shows something is lacking, and maybe the same ingredient is lacking in her work. It’s all about business in this regard; not emotions.

  18. Anonymous said:

    I know that my agent is very busy, and difficult to reach on the phone, so I email her (probably 5 times in the last 3 months). Either I don’t get a response, or a week later I get a short, curt reply that doesn’t address my question. On one occaision I did call her because I needed her advice quickly. I told her assistant that it was urgent and to please return my call asap. Five days (!!) later I got an email saying “Oh, did you call?”

    This is all too familiar to me, but at the same time, I understand being unwilling to ‘confront’ the agent out of fear that they could react badly.

    I put up with this kind of evasion for a year (!) before sending a very polite email to my agent, expressing my dissatisfaction with the lack of communication, and asking for ways we could improve our working relationship. In response, I recieved an abrubt reply, saying that it was obvious we wouldn’t work out together, and that I should find representation elsewhere.

    So, while it may seem silly not to address such issues, I can understand what makes an author avoid confrontation until the very end.

    Obviously, I’m better off without that agent. Just be warned that your polite attempts to improve the relationship might not be met with the same understanding that Kirstin indicates!

  19. Anonymous said:

    These posts are eye opening to say the least — and not favorable for agents. Unfortunately, I’d have to add my two cents to the cruddy agent side, as mine has done nothing for me in the year and avoids contacting me. If I don’t fire her first, I have a feeling I’ll be gettin the axe in a couple of months when the contract is finally up. And I can tell you this: she hasn’t EARNED a phone call. She’ll get a letter.

  20. Elaine said:

    to 9:15 anonymous–

    Hon, after reading your post, I think I can understand why your agent quit talking to you. She is not your lover, your best friend, your mama, or your spouse. The agent-author relationship is a professional one, not a personal one.

  21. Anonymous said:

    Quote:I think I can understand why your agent quit talking to you. She is not your lover, your best friend, your mama, or your spouse. The agent-author relationship is a professional one, not a personal one.> End quote.

    We’re not asking for best friends, lovers or spouses; we’re asking for simple, business-like behavior from people who control our literary works! Expecting the courtesy of a reply to an email question about the book is not unreasonable. Expecting an urgent phone call to be returned within 24 hours is not unreasonable. Expecting to know where our material has been subbed is not unreasonable.

    Why is that agents get away with shoddy business practices at the expense of their clients? Because we don’t have enough power or clout or eog-strength as writers to insist on professional behavior. We’re so glad to be invited to be party and sit at the table that we’re afraid to ask for a glass of water and a spoon.

    It’s too bad Agent Kristin’s client didn’t feel able to talk to her about their business but a certified letter is certainly the smart, legal way to end it.

  22. Lara said:

    Sometimes the parting CAN be amicable as well. My agent of three years and I parted ways because I decided I wanted to write different things, and he wanted me to write the same kinds of stories that I originally “snagged” him with.
    It happens. It doesn’t have to be nasty. I still have a tremendous amount of respect for him. We definitely communicated a lot before our split. That was the key.

  23. Anonymous said:

    **I think I can understand why your agent quit talking to you. She is not your lover, your best friend, your mama, or your spouse. The agent-author relationship is a professional one, not a personal one**

    Sorry anonymous 2. If you can work closely with somebody for years and have no feelings when they suddenly stop speaking to you? You’re a sociopath, not a professional.

  24. Saundra Mitchell said:

    Kristin, you have my sympathies. It sucks to get dumped out of the blue! I sent my agent the Dreaded Letter when she quit talking to me. I hadn’t heard from her in more than two months, so I figured I was being dumped. I just made it official. She wrote back as soon as she got the Dreaded Letter- she knew exactly why I sent it.

    I’m glad we stuck to letters though, because we both got to say nice things to each other, in the end. I guess the moral to this story is word brokers aren’t any better at communicating than anybody else, isn’t that sad?

  25. Stuart said:

    It could have been worse: She could have sent a text message.

    KN, Got 2 go. Found some1 else. Tnx 4 good times. Writer

    (DJs here in Denver were talking about bad news in text messages just yesterday)

  26. Anonymous said:

    stuart, that’s clever–i never thought about doing it by text but with the next generation of 20-something writers who are big with text messaging, it is very likely to happen!

  27. Anonymous said:

    One thing I’ve learned over the past two years is that patience is a must in this business. I also have an agent that gives me evasive answeres to specific questions. It’s like he skims through the e-mail without thoroughly reading it. From agent’s perspective, if they don’t have an offer, don’t expect much communication. And, if a publisher has questions about the manuscript before pulling the trigger on an offer, believe me, the agent WILL contact you.

    The client is also in a tough situation. He doen’t want to appear needy, desperate and hound the agent, but knowing the agent is spending enough time on selling the project gives some assurance.

    If you’re agent has a track record of sales with high-powered publishers, all you can do is wait, wait, and wait, because when an offer is on the table, your agent WILL call you.

  28. Anonymous said:

    Huh, this is kind of fascinating.

    I just fired an agent. (Not Agent Kristin 😉 ) Not having done this before, I looked for information on how to do it and found this advice from Miss Snark. Who says you should just send a quick, businesslike letter, and that phone calls or explanations just make it worse, like the “it’s not you, it’s me! and can we be friends?” speech during a breakup.

    So, that’s what I did. I’m published, but I’m fairly new to the business, and have relatively little industry experience. I want to behave in a professional manner, but it’s not always clear to me what that involves. (And ordinarily I’d turn to my agent for tips. But when what I want to know is, “er, how do I fire you in a professional manner?” well, you see the problem.)

    It’s nice to see a second perspective. In my case, my biggest issue was that I did not feel that he was at all enthusiastic about my work. I don’t know how I’d say “hey! Be more enthusiastic about me, dammit!” without sounding, I dunno, whiney and desperate? Besides, genuine enthusiasm about my work is one of the most important traits in an agent for me (behind basic business skills and ethical behavior, but ahead of almost everything else). If enthusiasm hasn’t been there in the past, it’s not like I want my agent to fake it! I want them to honestly be excited about my books. If they’re not, they’re not. And they’re NOT the right agent for me.

  29. Anonymous said:

    >>Am I expecting too much from my agent?

    Absolutely NOT! I fired my first agent for reasons similiar to what you’ve talked about here. And yes I talked to her first, gave her 2 months to straighten up and then fired her via certified letter. That’s what happens when you don’t respond to my emails etc etc.

    IMO You should expect a certain level of conduct from your agent, as you would any business partner and if you’re not getting it speak up. Remember wihtout you, she’d be out of a job (Apologies Kristen).

    One of the things I love about my new agent is that she answers questions I’d consider stupid and feel silly for asking, she answers all of them in a timely manner (Usually within minutes if not 24 hours). Not to say I email her fifty times a week asking what’s for dinner, but we definitely stay in the loop with one another.

  30. Catja (green_knight) said:

    I think the lesson to learn is to talk *before* things go bad. (Not learning this in time cost me a PhD, so I know of what I speak.)

    There’s not necessarily a ‘right’ way of how often a client should be updated and how much effort the agent should put into editing a mss by a new author; but when both are not on the same page, they need to speak. And that, I think, goes for agents as well as writers – if you feel harassed because you get too many e-mails you can only answer with ‘sorry, I’m busy, I can’t get back to you now, nothing is happening, if it were, I’d TELL YOU’ then maybe explaining that to your client would be a good move.

  31. nlnaigle said:

    It seems in this age of “real-time” processing people take the easy way out, rather than working through problems. Good old communication and honesty goes along way.

    Sorry to hear about that surprise “divorce” Kristin… bummer!

    But girls, don’t let this spin you up into a tizzy — if you are not yet agented, I think it speaks well to being sure you do the research up front to pick an agent that fits your style. Then, TALK about expectations right up front. We are all in this to succeed, so put your best foot forward, and keep walkin’ (couldn’t resist the Chritina Dodd reference … I am still high from National — I have written like I am on steroids!!!! )

    *hugs to all*
    Stay positive
    Drewryville, VA

  32. Eileen said:

    Count me on the lucky side- I have a great agent. I think one thing that has helped is when she called to offer representation we discussed several of these issues- how quickly I could expect to hear from her, her plan for promoting me, her marketing plan, my expectations, her expectations etc.

    So far no surprises- other than the pleasant realization of how much I enjoy working with her. As writers we want an agent so badly I think it is easy to say “Yes” to representation before we know if we have what we want. These posts are good reminders to choose wisely.

  33. Anonymous said:

    When I read anonymous’s post I felt like she was talking about my agent.

    I’m an author with seven published books and I’ve learned how to “work” with my agent.
    He’s trained me to ask one question per e-mail because that’s all he will answer.

    He can’t be bothered with more than that and if I have the gall to ask more than one question he’ll get testy with me.

    We hardly ever talk on the phone. Sometimes I have complicated issues to discuss with him but I must address them via email. I have to take care that my email isn’t too long or involved or he’ll ignore it all together.

    When he calls me I never have his
    entire attention.
    He’s checking emails or switching over to other calls.

    Questions about royalty statements and other “nonsense” are far too boring for him. He shoots them to her assistant, who never gets around to addressing them.

    I’ve given up on us ever having a productive working relationship.

    Yet he is one of the most respected agent in the biz. He attends every conference and is utterly attentive during forums. Most people would kill to have him as an agent. Little do they know how poorly he treats his writers.

    Why haven’t I left him? He has seven books of mine, all still earning royalties. As negligent and indifferent as he is now, imagine what it would be like if I left him.

    And if I were to leave him, I couldn’t begin to discuss all these issues with him. I know he’d be on the defenisve.
    Some relationships are so bad they can’t be saved.

    I think what happens to some agents (and I’m definitely not talking about Kristin who would be the first I’d query if I ever got the guts to leave my agent) is they love the honeymoon period. The author is fawning all over him or her. It’s catnip to the ego.
    But then when a deal is made, author and agent are supposed to be on a more equal footing, the relationship loses its charms.

    I will leave him one day.I’m just don’t want to look like a difficult

    This is a hard, hard business if you get hooked up with the wrong people. Choose wisely.

  34. Anonymous said:

    To anon with seven books:

    You certainly don’t sound like a difficult client. You’ve stayed with this agent a long time. And you say you’re earning royalties. So he is earning royalties.

    As hard as it may be, you might as well start thinking about making the move. You’ve already said it will happen, it’s just a question of time.

    And you’re leaving him a nice backlist.

  35. Anonymous said:

    Kristin should do a blog entry about why there seem to be so many agents who treat their clients poorly. It sounds like we’re talking about legitimate, “well-known” agents who don’t behave professionally. Shame.

  36. Allison Brennan said:

    Kristin: I terminated a relationship with my first agent prior to selling via certified letter. I should have called her, but I know me: I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. In essence, she really didn’t handle my type of book; I signed with her before I knew what I was doing with a book that was NOT ready for an editor (and I didn’t sell it even through a new agent); and as I learned more about the business by talking to other agents in informal conference type settings, I realized that her strategy was not my strategy. In addition, I needed more feedback that she was unwilling or unable to give.

    I parted amicably and simply. We hadn’t spent a huge amount of time working together so I don’t feel that it was an upsetting break for either of us. Still, it was a difficult decision on my part–a decision that ultimately was the best thing for my career.

    My advice to writers–especially unpublished writers–is learn the market and agent track records BEFORE you agree on representation. Too many unpublished writers jump at the first offer because they think it’s the only offer. They often ask the wrong questions. And sometimes, they don’t really know what to ask because they don’t know what they really need from an agent (aside from a sale and ethics). And finally, don’t be afraid to leave if it’s really not working out and you’ve made a good faith effort. Some people don’t click, and agents don’t represent everything out there. Find an agent who knows your market and you feel comfortable calling on occasion to talk about career and book issues. If you aren’t comfortable talking to your agent, he/she is not the right person for you.

  37. Anonymous said:

    Anon with seven books,

    You sound like an abused wife whose husband ignores her, plays mind games, and treats her poorly, but refuses to leave him.

  38. Emilie Rose said:

    I’ve fired an agent. I sent the registered letter and then I called before she received it. It was a miserable, difficult phone call but not nearly as awful or confrontational as I expected because she was completely professional.
    We’d had some great times together. She’d sold a lot of books for me and for that I will always be thankful. But then other stuff happened and I knew we had to part.

    The letter is the easiest way, but the phone call is courtesy.

  39. Anonymous said:

    A certified letter really is the only way to terminate this kind of business arrangement, whether or not it’s required in your contract. The irksome thing, I suspect, is that a writer has exercised some power in a normally one-sided relationship.

  40. lizzie26 said:

    r louis scott said: “I’m beginning to think that perhaps a new line of Hallmark cards might be in order here… “

    LOL! But so true. This agent/client thing is so like an affair.

  41. Anonymous said:

    Who is this loser that keeps barking back to the anons?? Perhaps you’re one of the agents in question. If not, zip it. Read and learn, like we all are.

  42. Anonymous said:

    Sure, you have to do your research and ask all the right questions before signing. But you really don’t know what the relationship is going to be like until you start working together. It’s a leap of faith on both ends.

  43. Anonymous said:

    Maybe there should be a trial period, where you could get to know the agent. You think you want to work with them, but you don’t know, as the previous poster said, until you do.

    It’s very tempting to sign with an agent who offers, especially if you’ve been trying for a long time. Write those 100+ query letters, get 25% partial requests, then two full requests, and one offer. So? What do you do?

    If that agent is legit and has a track record, you leap, and hope for the best.

    And no amount of checking credentials, having someone “approved by” some organization or other, will tell you whether you can work with them or not. Someone can be a great agent on paper, but still be a bad people person. Or, you may be looking for something they cannot provide, like a friend. Some of these posts sound a bit personal, like expectations were totally skewed.

    I’m going to keep trying anyway!

  44. Anonymous said:

    Wow! It sounds like all of you are talking about my agent. She won’t return my calls, doesn’t fully answer my e-mail questions (one per e-mail only) and takes a week or two to answer at that.

    Is this normal???

    I noticed that one of her clients who recently won a big award has disappeared off her list. I’d like to contact some of the other writers and find out…Is it just me or is it her style? But I’m afraid it would get back to her.

    We spoke up front about communication and she assured me that she wouldn’t take on a client that she wouldn’t want to talk to every day. I’ve contacted her four times in the past ten weeks, with one reply via e-mail. I guess I expected more of a relationship. Not buddies, not pals, but a genuine interest in my career.

    Where do I go from here?

  45. Anonymous said:

    To WOW, this sounds like my agent — that sounds like MY agent too! You’re not alone. I’m contemplating moving on — tho I’m making last ditch efforts to communicate before I split. Perhaps a Dejected Clients Club is in order!

  46. Anonymous said:

    I’m sorry, but I have absolutely no sympathy for you, Agent Kristin. It sounds like the letter was professional and courteous. This was obviously a business desicion for the writer. You weren’t selling her book, so it was time for her to find someone who could sell it. Agents are always telling writers not to take rejection personally, and that it’s just business. Well, if agents really mean that then they should take their own advice.

  47. alau said:

    I know I’m jumping in a bit late, but I can’t help but wonder how the different views here business manners and etiquette might be shaped by regional expectations. I’m a big city girl; always have been and probably always will be. It boggles my mind when people I visit small town America and people I don’t know wave to me and say hello. The certified polite letter? Definitely a very professional NY don’t-take-it-personally kind of way to go. Agent Kristin’s preference otherwise, reflects the niceties of the mid-west.

    Just my 2 cents.

  48. Anonymous said:

    This isn’t a regional thing. I hope that even in New York the first indication of problems with job performance is not “you’re fired,” or a client’s first mention of dissatisfaction with a product is a move to terminate the vendor’s contract. Of course a formal dissolution of a contract is sound business in any neighborhood. Pre-letter communication that a problem even exists is not asking much.

  49. Anonymous said:

    I’m just reading this now because I’ve been writing but sorry you were fired. You’re right though it would have been nice to get a bit of a heads up. You know, I had a wonderful, responsive agent once who I had to fire because the company she was with was taking more money than they should have been – she had no idea as they were paying her a % of what they should have been taking. When she found out she retired and I left the company but it was a sad parting.

  50. Anonymous said:

    Hi.I fell into this mess as well.
    I was asked to leave without given
    a chance to correct anything.The actual fault fell on me rather than my higher superior whom neg-
    lected his duties,when time caught
    up, he sat quiet as a mouse,three
    days later I was terminated.
    I can’t tell you how much that hurt,though the pieces was there
    for them to see,what a very hard
    fall that was.

  51. Anonymous said:

    I just fired my agent by certified letter, as the contract stated. I’d spoken with her only once in 8 months, when she signed me. I’d done research before signing with her, but my intuition was telling me to get out from early on. Lots of small signs telling me she wasn’t for me, but I chose to ignore them.
    I emailed her about once every three months. The first time to inquire about my book’s progress 3 months after signing with her. I sent a 2nd book, which she said she’d read. Next time I emailed with a request to talk with her at her convience. When she did set a date to talk, she didn’t call. She didn’t email to say why she didn’t call and I waited a week before I wrote the letter. Still no call, no email. I felt rotten writing the letter, but then I felt pretty bad the day she didn’t call or all the days since then. So I’m moving on. Or trying to, the problem is, she has yet to pick up the certified letter from her PO box, which is the only address I have for her and the place stated in her contract to send the letter. The contract states either she or I can terminated the contract with a 30-day notice. I sent it 13 days ago and she hasn’t picked it up yet. Does the contract end
    (legally) when it was postmarked or when she gets around to picking it up. What now? Anyone know the answer?
    She seemed like a nice person,
    but not the agent for me. All I’ve read says that an ineffective agent is worse than no agent. We’ll see.