Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
If you read a recent post of mine on crazy-making behavior, I talked about agents who poach clients from other agents. But another crazy-making scenario is when clients leave an agent badly.
Every client an agent picks is chosen carefully because it takes a lot of energy to “fold” a client into the agent’s workflow. The agent needs to thoughtfully and purposefully plan how to move the writer onto his or her next level. If the writer has a number of published or unpublished manuscripts, the agent needs to become familiar with where the career is to understand how to move it forward. Plus, as we’ve mentioned previously on our blog, we choose our clients not only based on career potential but also based on whether we enjoy working with that person.
When the Relationship Goes Wrong (Clients, don’t leave yet.)
Considering the investment the agent makes in a client, agents don’t take it lightly when one leaves. So choose to leave well.
As in any relationship, if your agent disappoints you or doesn’t meet expectations, you should express it. Now, if you thought finding a publisher when you’re a debut writer was going to be easy because now you have an agent, you’ll need to adjust your expectations. Sames goes for any musings about your agent having a get-rich scheme for you. Ain’t no agent holding the key to readily open those doors.
But if you have concerns that, on reflection, persist, talk to your agent about them. They need to be aired.
Have a Little Chat (Clients, don’t leave yet.)
Maybe you’ve been feeling neglected. Your agent might be able to explain what’s going on that’s keeping him from paying as much attention to you as you’d like.
The Proposal Problem
Often agents suffer from the pig-in-the-python syndrome. One morning we open our email inbox to find it stuffed (like the pig in the python) with proposals from our clients. What!? We woke up that morning expecting to glide through our emails and quickly move on to our to-do list. But one computer keyboard click, and our life has been rearranged.
Agents who work hard to hone your proposal have just fallen way behind for a boatload of clients. While we can, at that point, explain we have LOTS of proposals to work on, you probably don’t picture the pig in the you-know-what. So impatience isn’t a surprising response from the writer.
The Contract Clump
The same dynamic occurs with contract. We can suddenly sell many projects, and the contracts seem to move through the publishers’ systems at about the same pace. That means the agent is likely to find himself diligently pouring over multiple contracts simultaneously.
Tripping Over the Trip
A trip to a writers conference can set the agent back woefully on the work in the office.
As you can see from these few examples, many scenarios exist that keep an agent from being attentive to you. It doesn’t mean none of these other items don’t benefit you because each does, in its own way. The problem is, the writer can only see from the peephole in front of her what’s going on for the agent.
When the Relationship Goes Bad (Clients, don’t leave like this.)
But let’s say that I had a client who, rather than talking to me about the perceived snub, just left. Gone. Sent an email. Signed with another agent.
What a sad waste for both of us. That author’s momentum will be lost while the new agent gets on board. A perfectly good relationship will be gone because the client didn’t talk it over.
Now, that client might decide to leave after we talk, but at least we would have ended our relationship well. It comes down to showing respect for each other and for the relationship, for what each of us has invested in the other.
So if you’re feeling disgruntled with your current agent, pick up the phone and have a heart-to-heart. Either the air will clear, or you’ll both know the relationships isn’t working.
Not to mention that agents can make adjustments. If you have a concern, once you’ve expressed it, the relationship might not end at all but get righted. Which makes both of you happy.
NOTE: Wendy recently wrote about when an agent lets you go, but her post’s emphasis was on why an agent releases you and what it means for your career. Her post is a bookend to mine. If you’d like to read it, you’ll find it here.
Thinking about leaving your lit agent? Read this first. Click to tweet.
How to end your relationship with a lit agent well. Click to tweet.