Pub Rants

Lost That Loving Feeling (part 3)

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STATUS: Some absolutely fabulous news today. I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter has just gone into its third huge printing. I’ll leave it up to Ally if she wants to reveal how many copies are now in print but it’s an impressive number! And today, I also sold the German rights to ONCE UPON STILETTOS. Go Shanna. Do you know she is a bestseller in the Netherlands as well with ENCHANTED, INC.? This book went back to print there last month. They love her in Dutch! Some of her fans even ordered the English version of STILETTOS because they just couldn’t wait for the translation. That’s love.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? NON DIMENTICAR by Natalie Cole

Transitions go in waves—I’m telling you. Lately, every other Pub Lunch has a tidbit about an editor who has left one house to move to a new publisher.

And the agent dance wave is going on as well. In the last two weeks, I’ve received at least three emails from authors looking to leave their agent and are seeking new representation.

So, I have to talk about the reverse. Sometimes authors lose that loving feeling about their agents.

Last month I was perusing a chat forum and I was appalled to read about an author who blamed her agent for not getting enough money in the initial advance (even though, by her own admission, it was the only offer for the book) and she was convinced that that was why the publisher didn’t get behind the book for marketing/publicity (and that the agent didn’t do enough to force the publisher to spend the marketing dollars).

She fired the agent.

Oi, that makes my blood run cold. She blamed the agent for the advance not being big enough on the only offer made and for not forcing the Publisher to spend money. I don’t know any agents who can FORCE the publisher to spend the marketing dollars. What? Should I show up at their offices with a shotgun in hand?

And maybe there is more to the story but in my mind, there are lots of good reasons to fire an agent and the above ain’t one of them.

So, what are good reasons to lose that loving feeling for your agent and move on? You tell me and we’ll list ‘em (and maybe talk about some of them) tomorrow.

44 Responses

  1. Jillian said:

    I had to “fire” my agent.

    It’s a long story, but here’s the short version:

    She took me on because she read my self-pubbed NF and liked it. Wanted to know if I would like representation.

    Understand — I was a neophyte. Barely knew what the role of an agent was. I felt like Cinderella.

    I signed a — are you ready? — 3-year contract.

    It was immediately apparent that my agent was communication-challenged. Weeks would go by without a word on any front. I assumed that she was Very Busy And Important, and kept quiet in my corner for a long time.

    Then I started to do some research. And my eyes were opened.

    After having dealt with the following, I finally severed the ties:

    – Non-answered emails and voice mails.

    – Submissions to editors with my name spelled wrong.

    – Charge for office fees over $100 with nary a contract on my book. (Then accusing my husband over the phone for lying about having mailed the payment.)

    – Unfulfilled promise to do editing on my WIP (fiction).

    – Lies about why said manuscript sat untouched on her desk.

    – Scheduled phone meetings that were completely blown off — with nary an apology or explanation (or even a timely rescheduling).

    Here’s the best part:

    After consulting with my lawyer, it was deemed best that I terminate via email (mostly to have it in writing). I wrote 2 emails that were ignored, so I had to go the “certified letter” route.

    Mind you, I’d had an honest “these are my concerns” phone call with this woman already, to no avail.

    A week after having sent the certified letter, she called me. She was irate. She yelled at me. She called me names. Then she hung up on me.

    Yep. That was my agent experience.

    And yes, this was a legitimate agent in NYC.

    I learned a hard lesson. I’m thankful. And I’m pressing on.

    (Do I win a prize? :))

  2. Ryan Field said:

    I’m enjoying this…most who I know remain with their agents a while and it has to be something horrendous to make them change. An agent friend of mine literally has the first client he ever represented, still going strong, almost thirty years later. I’m curious to see why people would want to change.

  3. Marie said:

    Other than what jillian said, I would think that the following are probably good reasons to lose that loving feeling for an agent:

    – Bad match
    – Personality clashes
    – Not going in the same direction/don’t have the same goals
    – Unclear expectations (on either side)

    Unfortunately, what I mentioned aren’t necessarily things that would be easy to detect right off the bat. I suppose we have it easier than Kristin since we have a better idea of her personality from her blog than she’s going to get from a 1 page query letter. Also, personality clashes can come about gradually so that one is hard to predict.

  4. Wonderwood said:

    Well, since I’ve never had an agent, I can’t speak from experience. However, I can tell you why I’ve fired other people. For me, the reason has always been unmet expectations. The person didn’t live up to the mutually agreed upon expectations. I’ve not fired many people; just four, I think. So if the agent doesn’t live up to the agreed upon expectations, I’d terminate the relationship. I would want to have a clear understanding of what the expectations should be, and we both agree. And if we couldn’t come to agreement on expectations up front, I wouldn’t hire them to begin with. Being a novice in this business, though, I think the temptation would be there to just sign with the first one that offers to rep me, but I hope I’ll trust my gut. Anyway, that’s my thirty two cents worth.

  5. Anonymous said:

    If your agent friend has had clients for 30 years, then no doubt the agent:
    1. Knows what to anticipate in terms of questions and expectations that the new writer might have.
    2. Has experience in communicating what a new writer should expect.
    3. Has enough staff to help fulfill any obligations.
    4. Follows through on promises, and doesn’t make promises he knows are unreasonable. Doesn’t promise more than he or she can negotiate for.

    In Jillian’s case, money would have been well spent taking the contract to a lawyer before she signed.

    Remember, for anything… you needn’t sign right away. You are within your rights to read, comprehend and question what you are signing. You may take it someone and also negotiate for changes.

    “Frontloading’ yourself is very important when doing anything that has to do with career and money.

  6. Anonymous said:

    I think it was definitely a quick case of losing the loving feeling with my first agent.

    My agent was fabulous initially, but turns out she only had me in mind for one publisher. It looked good, several editors really liked the book, but the man on top declined. After that, my agent sat on the book.

    Now, had she communicated to me that she had no other ideas, that she was at a loss, I would have suggested smaller presses or other publishers, but she didn’t. She just sat on it. …for one year.

    Each time I sent her an email or left a phone message, she responded with, I’ve got some ideas and will get back to you next week. She NEVER did.

    I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt and not pester her weekly or anything, but I gently and diplomatically contacted her periodically to check in.

    Finally it was I who said, I don’t think this relationship is working for either of us, and she agreed. So we ended it.

    I tried not to burn bridges, and she said that she would like to see my next project, but I honestly don’t think that I would want her representing me again.

    Ah well. We live and learn.

  7. Anonymous said:

    I’ll go over some points:

    It sounds like the chat room author had a lot of issues, among them being a lack of other people to talk to before she commenced her BUSINESS ARRANGEMENT with the agent.

    an author who blamed her agent for not getting enough money in the initial advance

    Well, what was the amount that the writer and agent discussed prior to negotiations? Was this discussed honestly and frankly between the two parties? Did the writer not understand her role in communicating what she wants?

    In my experience, though you can’t force anyone to make anyone pay anything, you can certainly make a good case and try. Usually, if you know how to negotiate, you can usually get something.

    If in the event, you aren’t able to negotiate for what you want, then at least you (as the agent) have evidence of having tried.

    she was convinced that that was why the publisher didn’t get behind the book for marketing/publicity

    The majority of books get published to no ‘ado’ than getting the full on Grisham treatment. No one with one offer is going to get that. No limo, no stand alone rack at the grocery store, no top shelf treatment anywhere.

    What? Should I show up at their offices with a shotgun in hand?

    There’s a real art to negotiation, and both parties should know that a publishing house has lots and lots of lawyers whose sole reason for existence is to ensure the long term financial well being of the company. Therefore, the first thing offered is always a ‘standard’ agreement, which 99.9% of the time is accepted.

    First rule of negotiation: NOTHING is standard. EVERYTHING can be negotiated.

  8. Anonymous said:

    I left my agent because she was so distant and abrupt. Whenever I had a rare but routine question about contracts or royalty, she’d never write me back directly but would simply forward my question to an assistant. Normal niceties were not her strong point.

    Even though she’d repped and sold fout of my novels we would only coorespond during negotiations. After that, she had nothing to do with me.

    I thought that’s the way things worked until I talked to another author whose agent actually discussed her career and advised her on future projects. What a concept! I immediately switched agencies and have never been happier. Some agents are excellent negotiators and then they cut you loose. That sort of relationship doesn’t work for me. I know my agent is there for me during the very occasional times when I need her. It’s a wonderful feeling.

  9. Anonymous said:

    Very interesting post. I’m curious now…say you’re with an agent for a year. You part ways after lackluster efforts on the agent’s part and you’ve written a new book and are ready to move on.

    Isn’t this a strike against you when you query other agents? That you had one and didn’t sell? Or do you consider that maybe one party wasn’t entirely to blame and the stuff is worth a look anyways?

    I always thought that if you had an ‘ex’ on your records, that was a black mark.

    Or is this a good sign that your work is publishable?

    Can you enlighten us?

  10. Anonymous said:

    I left my first agent because he didn’t have the experience to see the flaws in my first, plot-challenged, ms. He got it in front of some fabulous editors, but it really wasn’t “dressed” for NY. I knew I needed an agent who would rip my work apart, if need be. Boy did I find one, and boy did it pay off.

  11. xiqay said:

    I’d like to have a first love, so I could get to that “lost” feeling sometime! That said, here’s some ramblings on what it might be like for me. If I had an agent…

    I do have a professional life, outside of writing, and have “fired” two people. Not really fired, just informed that they had x amount of time to look for another job and resign or they would be fired. Each because s/he went over a clearly demarcated line of conduct (one-racist comments to a client; the other-seeking sexual favors from a client). Each resigned.

    With an agent, obviously any breach of legal standards would cause the love to flow away (lying, cheating, scamming). This doesn’t seem to be much of a problem with reputable agents.

    Any breach of standards that are harder to quantify (racism, sexism, etc.), and I’d leave. I’m old enough and experienced enough to trust my judgment on these topics. (I’m not talking jokes in poor taste, I mean more than the crass mistakes humans tend to make under pressure. But an agent like Mel Gibson, I’m outta there.)

    I wouldn’t mind an agent who just sold my novels and didn’t communicate beyond negotiations. I wouldn’t be disappointed if I asked routine questions and they were referred to an associate. Neither of these things seems to be the least bit unprofessional. And I don’t have needs that would require more.

    I would want an agent who is organized enough to say where my mss had been submitted and what response had been received (or was awaited). Problems here-I’d give a pass once or twice, but then 3 strikes and agent is out.

    I would want an agent who submitted as widely as possible-round 1, round 2 and round 3 if needed. Problems here-I’m gone (one publisher in a year, oh my, no).

    I don’t think I’d complain about details like advances and publicity after the fact. If I didn’t like it, I could always insist on something better before I signed the contract.

    As for personality clashes and “bad match” problems, those are harder to assess. I think (I hope) that I would examine my own professionalism in the relationship first, and do it honestly, before losing the love. And I’d hope that another great novel in the works might rekindle the fire, for the good.
    If I had an agent…

    If I had an agent…

  12. pat said:

    I teach middle school and have offered several of my students my copy of I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You and they were VERY impressed.
    Go Ally!

  13. Anonymous said:

    I’ve come to realize that really, it’s all about whether your agent can sell your work.

    I stayed with my first agent way too long, given that he wasn’t selling my work. Looking back, we just had different sensibilities–he was focused on one part of the market, my work fit into another. I sold the book he hadn’t been able to sell within a year of leaving.

    When I signed on with my new agent, I told myself up front I was giving it one to two years–if nothing had sold by then, I’d leave, no matter how reputable they were. Though as it turned out, my new agent sold my next book in just a few months, so whether to leave never became a question.

  14. Anonymous said:

    I fired my previous agent mostly because she wasn’t communicating, she wasn’t being responsive, and because she wasn’t getting results. I don’t mean results in the sense of selling my book for tons of money. I mean results in the sense of getting some kind of answer — yes or no — from editors. I can let a project sit on an editor’s desk for a year without a response. I expect an agent to get a faster turnaround time than that. I couldn’t even get a straight answer about where the book was submitted, and when I did my quarterly status check, all I’d get was, “I haven’t heard anything yet.”

    It actually built for a time before I pulled the plug, though. She was enthusiastic about the first book, sent it to two editors, who both rejected it with the “love the idea, love the writing, but it just didn’t work for me and I don’t know why, please send something else” kind of response. (Yeah, two editors before she gave up — should have been red flag #1.)

    So I wrote something else. That went out (supposedly). Months went by. I was going to a conference I knew my agent would be attending, and I sent her an e-mail suggesting we get together at some point during the conference. I got no response. There was another, smaller conference where she would be speaking to a small group session that I would be attending. I sent her an e-mail suggesting we meet. She said her schedule was full, though she did end up catching up with me for a few minutes after she finished her session (maybe the Death Glare during the session scared her). At that point, the project had been out more than a year with no response, and she suggested maybe I should rewrite it to better fit with the current market.

    If I’d thought about it back then, it might have dawned on me that getting tons of rejections might have been a good reason to rewrite. No response at all had more to do with the agent than with the book itself. But I went and rewrote it, then sent it to her. Four months later, a package landed on my doorstep. It was my manuscript, with a cover note from my agent saying she didn’t think this project was marketable.

    That was when I fired her. Not because the project wasn’t unmarketable (my next agent agreed with the assessment), but because it took her four months to tell me this, because she didn’t bother to pick up the phone to tell me this, because she’d let a previous version sit for more than a year without even getting a rejection, and because I was fed up with the lack of communication.

    And when I sent the certified letter to sever the relationship, I did get the little return postcard, but I got no other response from her. I got the impression that the package on my doorstep with what amounted to a rejection was her way of firing me, and she then left it to me to figure that out and do the legal separation. It kind of reminded me of my dating life and all those guys who say they’ll call and then just disappear without saying anything, so I have to figure out we’re broken up after I haven’t heard anything in a while and they haven’t responded to my attempts at contact.

    I did end up submitting that project on my own to some of the editors who should have been on the submission list, and they all acted like they’d never even heard of it, so I have to wonder …

    I suppose I should have been more assertive, and this agent is definitely not a scammer. She’s been very successful with some of her other clients, who love her. She just wasn’t a good match for me, and I think she lost enthusiasm because of that. When I heard her speak at a later conference, she mentioned a book she’d loved and said she wanted to find more material like that. I’d read and loathed that book. I guess we didn’t have similar tastes, and if she just didn’t like my stuff, she wasn’t going to spend time on me. I only wish she’d been more forthright with me about that instead of halfheartedly playing agent for a couple of years.

  15. Anonymous said:

    we would only correspond during negotiations

    I’m glad you left her.

    Negotiating is all about planning. A good negotiator, be it a lawyer, agent, or your mother, never goes into a meeting without a detailed account of what it is that you want. They also know what the other side has to offer, they’ve done their homework on them before they take a meeting.
    Planning is everything.

    And though you can be shoved to associates, especially if it’s a world famous agent like Kristen, the associates must be extremely well trained, take the job as seriously as the boss, and treat you like gold.

    Forget about art, about getting your heart broken, about your sweat and tears. This is a business agreement and you need to tend to it as such. As much as you’ll be tempted to think of your agent as your best friend, your mentor, your mother-substitute: don’t. You can negotiate with a business associate, but it’s harder to do so with a friend. This doesn’t mean you can’t like, trust, or have a warm relationship. It just means that you have to understand what Kristen has been saying all along, that this is a business.

    And agents…. I’d say the same to you.

    She just sat on it. …for one year.

    In other words, you entrusted her with an asset, and during that year you received no return. Think of your MS as an investment. You want a return.

    Remember, there’s no such thing as a ‘standard’ agreement. You can write things in like timeframes, number of publishers the book will be submitted to, the time allowable for the agent to work on a response, and especially exit clauses for both agent and writer.

  16. Anonymous said:

    My first agent felt like a Cinderella story, too. I became more than disenchated, though, when she led me on with rewrites over more than six months and then told me she didn’t think she could enthusiastically rep my book, and if this was the book I wanted to submit to editors I might as well find another agent.

    I was really torn about giving her up- she was an agent, after all!- but I’d invested so much time in the book that I knew I couldn’t just put it in a drawer to work on something she felt enthusiastic about. In the end, I sent a reply thanking her for the first vote of confidence, but that I wanted to stick with it. I never even heard back from her. When I first agreed to work with her, I was too scared I might run her off by asking questions about a contract, etc., and she didn’t bother to bring that stuff up, herself, so this went on for more than a year with me wondering what was up. That was dumb on my part, but I have to say I was just a kid. Literally.

    Lack of communication is definitely a huge thing. I always read about agents who don’t think they should be holding their clients’ hands, but if the agent takes 2 whole weeks to email back about an update (especially when the writer is the tiptoe-ing sort and prefaces every email with “I know you’re really busy, but…”), or the agent SAYS they’ll read a revision within the next two weeks, but pushes it back months, then there’s obviously a problem. Lack of communication and lack of clarity about the agent’s goal for a specific project. As in, do they actually feel up to sending it to editors, or are they just trying to think of a nice way to tell you they hate the direction your work has taken?

    Lose the love:

    1.) No communication. And keeping the flow open is TOTALLY not the same as hand-holding, contrary to what some blogging agents might have you believe.

    2.) Not spelling out the terms of the partnership in that very first phonecall- this always leaves room for doubt in the writer’s mind.

    3.) And, not spelling out what the agent intends for the writer’s project(s). Simply saying, “Well, I wouldn’t have taken it on if I felt I couldn’t sell it!” is NOT the right answer.

    Thanks, Kristin. 🙂

  17. Anonymous said:

    Oy. Lessee…


    Nice person
    Always returns my emails promptly
    Helped with my first sale


    Non-New Yorker who does not visit editors in New York

    Trash-talks other agents (in general, not personal)

    Lets me pitch my own stuff (which has turned out OK, but still…)

    Does not read my work. I am not kidding.

    The one submission I saw from the agency that did get sent out described my book completely wrong. And was sent in a bulk, multi-pitch email. To editors who do not handle my genre.

    Is this worse than no agent at all? I have sold (some) books to (a major publisher) with this person; the first through the agency, the others directly to my editor. Advances were average. Is this an “it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” type of thing or one of those ‘married to a ne’er do well but too afaid to leave’ things?

  18. Anonymous said:

    Stories about losing your agent/ fireing her/ etc.

    We trust that the agent is doing her job. Our job is to produce the product — write — and we think that the agent’s job is to get it in front of editors who might be interested. YMMV

    Why did I leave my agent?
    1) she didn’t sell my first (acctually my 10th, but my first with her) book. I came to her already having an offer from a publisher. I found out later that she had put that same ms. on a shelf several years earlier, because she didn’t know what to do with it.

    2) she asked me to send her more, showed interest in a few of them, then no communication from her. Others, she suggested revisions which I sent back, then no communication from her.
    I assumed she was busy sending them out. (wrong) After a year or two, I asked her to let me know where they had been sent and — no answer. no response at all.

    After giving her 6 months to give me information about what she was doing with my ms, I finally gave up and formally terminated our relationship.

    To this day I don’t believe she understands just why we separated. To this day I feel that I lost 3 or 4 years of my writing career, waiting for her to do the sending out.

    If she had only let me know what she was doing and where she sent them, I would be still with her — trusting that something she did would click with some editor, some time.

    She could have lied, and I would have believed her — trusting soul that I am. But no response from her led to termination from me.

    -librarian, writer, grandmother

  19. Anonymous said:

    Wow, reading all this is making me think about skipping the agent process and submitting directly to publishers.

  20. Anonymous said:

    My agent won’t share rejection letters. I *think* she only sent my book to five publishers over the past year, though I can’t be sure because her communication is so minimal. She’s a reputable agent and has sold a reasonable amount. I’m done with my next book and don’t want to give it to her, though. But, I’m scared to terminate with her and be stuck with no agent.

    1) Can I query the new book with new agents w/o terminating first?
    2) Is it a black mark against me with agents if I’ve left an agent? This is a new book so no one (agents/editors) has seen it. At what point during the process should I tell agents about the previous representation? How much detail do I have to go into? Do I have to say who the agent was and why I left her?

    Thanks so much.

  21. JDuncan said:

    Boy, lot’s of nice agent stories here. Almost makes you wonder what percentage of them actually know what being a decent agent is all about. Finding out isn’t difficult. There’s stuff all over the net about what a ‘good’ agent should provide for a client. There’s also info about specific agents in general. The key would obviously seem to be, do your research! There’s so much info out there on what to do and not to do, good tips/advice, etc. on finding a good agent and so forth. Of course the good ones are harder to come by because everyone wants them to be their agent. I will be looking for one in the next couple of months for my suspense novel, and I am looking, looking, looking at any and all info I can find about specific agents and such. I don’t know any site’s offhand that offer what seems to be good info, so perhaps some folks here can provide some links, but this is one of those situations where too much knowledge won’t hurt you.

  22. Janny said:


    “Does not read my work. I am not kidding.

    The one submission I saw from the agency that did get sent out described my book completely wrong. And was sent in a bulk, multi-pitch email. To editors who do not handle my genre.”

    In answer to your question…yes, this is worse than no agent at all. I’d cut the ties, myself. Of course, I am speaking as a presently agentless author, but one who is actively looking for representation (as Kristin can tell you, since I queried her!).

    What I’m looking for in an agent is lots and lots of good industry knowledge, up to date contacts, an enthusiasm for my voice and my work, willingness to partner with me in making career moves, great negotiating skills, and communication, communication, communication. I want the rejection letters, I want to know who has the manuscript and what’s going on, and I want to know honestly whether the agent thinks we can push any harder for a better deal, or if what we see will be what we get.

    Not too much, right? (heh heh)

    What I don’t need is hand-holding…well, okay, occasionally some handholding, but not much. 🙂

    I don’t need a lot of editorial input, but I wouldn’t mind getting feedback from an agent on why something we might both think is a winner isn’t meeting with enthusiasm from the market.

    I don’t need a “new best friend,” nor will I expect one…but a little cheerleading at the right time is also worth its weight in gold. Note: again, just a LITTLE.

    Why would I fire an agent?
    1) lying/dishonesty–in any form
    2) incompetence–in any form
    3) personality or career goal differences
    4) lack of communication–as in a real lack, not merely a few timing glitches.
    5) a pathological lack of “people” skills. Note once again…has to be a real lack, not just a weakness or a tendency to be blunt. Blunt, most of us can handle. Rude, on the other hand…er, no.

    Once again, not exactly asking for the world…or at least asking for a very small one. Right?

    My take,

  23. Termagant 2 said:

    Being currently ‘twixt agents, I wonder how a writer can find ANY of this out before signing:

    1) will she actually send out the book about which she claims to feel so enthusiastic?

    2) will he be too busy to respond when I ask questions?

    3) will she have the patience to advise an author new to the agent/author relationship?

    4) will he give me honest feedback on the market if the first round says no?

    I don’t think this is asking for much. But how do you find out these answers beforehand?


  24. Anonymous said:

    On your blog you said you start pestering editors if you haven’t heard back from them in 5 weeks. My question is, how long should you wait for responses before you know your agent is just not being proactive? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? I think lack of knowledge of this sort is what makes a lot of people stay with agents that just aren’t ‘working for them’ longer than they should and harming their career.

  25. Anonymous said:

    I had a script with an agent, and after six months with no phone call, I called him. “Oh, you’re that ‘space’ guy.” (It was a Sci/Fi)

    Can you say “Buh-bye?” He didn’t even know my name!

  26. Anonymous said:

    I can’t believe this topic came up. I follow your blog often and part of how you say you conduct business has impacted my decision. I am currently making the decision to fire my agent.

    Briefly – I’m a multi-published category author moving to ST. I acquired a new agent in a large agency. That agent left – and passed me to to another agent.

    The agent read my manuscript. Liked it. Told me she had small revisions and would be sending a letter shortly. After that we would talk about my future projects.

    This was three months ago. Two follow up emails – not responded. One phone call not returned.

    I understand busy. I know this is a slow moving industry. I HATE to nag or nudge and have tried simply to ask for a time frame of “when” we could talk.

    My question is – how busy can agents get? Am I being too quick to pull the trigger? Or did this agent simply not want to take me on and is simply ignoring me so that I walk – thus no guilt?

  27. Anonymous said:

    I think a lot of agents and writers would do well to take some basic small business classes at through the SBA.

    Either way, if the business arrangement that you have with your agent fails to please you, you are free to leave in the most graceful way that you can.

  28. Eileen said:

    I love my agent. But I do like the idea of you agent sorts arming yourself like Rambo and rushing the publishing companies for more marketing dollars. I have this image of you in camo screaming “send out more ARCs or I’ll force this very thin editorial assistant to eat donuts.”

  29. tlh said:

    Eileen, that was a hysterical mental image that I’ll be giggling randomly about all day.

    (I wish someone in camo would grab me and force me to eat donuts.)

  30. Anonymous said:

    First of all, after reading all the comments about agents, I really do feel someone should create a website, put down all the agents names and have a public opinion polls and comments on them, so writers should know what kind of agent she/he is dealing with.

    Advertising NAMES of so call “BAD” agents should be put out there.

    That’s my opinion.

  31. Marlo said:

    Anon, who wants an agent review webpage:

    There is something like that, actually, at Preditors and Editors

    It doesn’t have comments or stats, but it does have a list of known agents. When there’s enough info on certain agents, they get marked with $ (has sold projects with a reuptable publisher), recommended (has a solid undisputed reputation), and / or not recommended (is a known scammer).

    However, things like ‘my agent is a rude nitwit, who needs to be dosed stat with a clue gun’ is a subjective call, and impossible to chart fairly.

  32. Anonymous said:

    There was a poll done recently about the top ten (or so) worst literary agents, but those were the agents most seasoned queriers (the ones who lurk in forums, read the agent blogs, etc.) know to avoid, anyway. I’m surprised a group of disgruntled writers hasn’t already started a site similar to the one that lets students grade their teachers/professors. I’m not sure how helpful it’d be, but if writers were to take the time to objectively summarize their dealings with certain agents, it might be helpful to other writers and it might serve to keep these no-reply agents (the ones who’ve already signed on these miffed clients, that is) on their toes.

    On the other hand, a lot of mud get slung when people’s Life Work is on the line. And it wouldn’t be difficult for the agents to trace back which (ex-) clients were rantin’ and ravin’. Depending on the agent, that could get the writer blackballed.

    I wish the idea weren’t necessary. The biggest complaint seems to be lack of communication. Is this really an agent thing, or are agents dealing with the same on the buying end? If they are, what’s the harm in letting their clients know that?

  33. ClicheCrusher said:

    My first agent, chosen because he sold four books by a writer I admire in my genre and he seemed enthusiastic about my work.

    More a year later, no copies of editor’s comments or rejections furnished, despite word that one had declined. No response to my letter begging for a copy. His name now appeared on the “not recommended” list at the site that rates agents.

    With no copies and no names to attach to submissions, plus the “not recommended” appearance, I began to doubt any ms had even been submitted. (How would one know?)

    Sent a certified letter firing agent after 16 months of this. Seeking new agent but not exactly sanguine about this experience.

  34. Sam said:

    My first agent was a scammer so I was leery of trying to get another one. But after trying to break into the NY market and getting nowhere,(I live in Europe)I thought it was worth another try.
    Right now I’m still getting to know my new agent. So far I really like working with her. We work together on projects, which I think is great, and she gives me a lot of feedback and ideas. I guess we’re still in the honeymoon stage, lol, but I sincerely hope I’m going to be with her for the long haul!

  35. Anonymous said:

    A lot of the comments here seem to be about agents who are either outright scammers or are neglecting at least part of their client list. I’d be curious to hear Kristin’s thoughts on the more subtle cases. How do you know when a good, reputable, diligent agent just isn’t working right for you? What are good and bad reasons for leaving a good agent?

  36. Annie Dean said:

    I only had one prior experience prior to signing with my current agent. All of 21 years of age, I managed to get a major agency interested in my book and they shopped it around for me. She was an editorial assistant, though, taking a chance on me as much as I was on her. She told me she had no authority to offer a contract and the senior agents wouldn’t approve it unless she sold my book. I was okay with that, but as it turned out, I had just broken too much genre rules. They weren’t putting out dark, angsty historicals yet. Guess I was ahead of the curve.

    Like all stupid young writers, I decided she just didn’t know what she was doing and went my own way. (Gosh, it couldn’t possibly have been my book?!) She’s a very successful senior agent now, fourteen years later, and I’m a lot wiser. I do hope I’ve gotten it right on the first try, however. I’ve never been under contract before and so far, so good.

  37. Anonymous said:

    Add my name to the “fired my agent for poor communication skills” list. Emails unanswered, phone messages ignored, and when by some miracle I did get her on the phone, her first question to me was invariably “Where are we with your book?” Ummm… that was my question. I would have gladly held the phone while she opened her spreadsheet/notebook/box of cocktail napkins, but that would not have helped as she had already lost my manuscript. Twice. Top it all off, her name is everywhere you look as a final contest judge. Well, I guess she’s answering someone‘s emails and phone calls — just not her clients.

  38. Anne R. Allen said:

    Just read Lauren’s bookangst post. I think she gets the long-suffering writer award. (I’m so glad she kept writing. I’m a big fan.)This whole thread is great. Now I know I’m not alone. I’ve had four agents and sold three books–all three sales made by me, not my agent, like Lauren’s first sales.
    But I never had to break up with the agents: two went out of business, and two fired me after only a few submissions(they never offered contracts.) At least they all did some submitting and passed on rejection letters to me. I guess I was luckier than I realized. Thanks, Kristin for all the info on this blog.

  39. Lauren Baratz-Logsted said:

    Anne, thanks for the kind words!

    Let me just say, I love my sixth agent. And if I didn’t love her, I’d be on Kristen’s doorstep in a heartbeat. I’ve had the privilege of meeting her; I like her personally, and I admire the way she handles her clients.

  40. Anonymous said:

    Several years ago I shopped for agents and was astounded to get an enthusiastic response from my first choice person. She took about two months to get through the manuscript [tooo many pages] but meanwhile kept in touch. We had a good long chat about the story on the phone and all was beautiful until I got the scary contract.

    I’d have to agree to pay royalties on “all works ever produced, for the life of copyright” whether or not she has a role in negotiating the contracts or selling the works. No way for me to fire her ever, although she could fire me any time any reason. If all went well, that’s no problem but if it did go sour my only option under the contract would be to try to have another agent do the actual work and promptly pay her royalties as well. A very sweet deal for her, yes, but what author can afford that?

    I’d also have to give up right to sue her with no alternative dispute resolution method provided. But she didn’t give up the right to sue me. Which I’m would be so handy if I tried using another agent. Plus there were numerous other unacceptable clauses [4 pages].

    I sent a letter asking for the return of the manuscript. She called to ask what’s wrong. I said I just hadn’t realized I’d have to give up all control. She took a sort of maternal, yes, of course you do, that’s the biz. And I was like gosh, silly naive me, I’m not quite ready for that, maybe next year…

    When the pages returned I felt like I’d just escaped eternal bondage.

    Having the wrong agent can be very much worse than having none. Because if you’ve got none, you’re at least free to sub on your own or look for the right agent. And when you find them you can work together knowing they’re not going to get a letter from her attorney telling them to cease and desist trying to sell your books because you are the captive client of Agent X.

    She does have real clients and sells things. Numerous unpublished unagented authors I’ve talked to, think I’m crazy. They’d jump at the chance, it sounded great to them. They can’t understand why I wouldn’t sign her contract. I’m sure it’s possible for things to go well with her and maybe she would just fire you when you wanted to be fired, but then again, maybe not.

  41. Anonymous said:

    Being told what I can and cannot write. Being told what I can and cannot call the story. Being told that all proposals must be approved by the agent before writing can commence. Being told not to get too impressed with myself when first novel went to #1 bestseller status and stayed there for 4 weeks.

    This person is now my ex-agent. Live and learn.


  42. Anonymous said:

    Anonymous said…
    Several years ago I shopped for agents and was astounded to get an enthusiastic response from my

    So you did the right thing! You actually read all the fine print on the contract.
    The agent wasn’t expecting you to do this. No doubt, 99% of her clients accept this as “the” standard arrangement.

    And as you know, nothing is standard, everything is negotiable.