Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Location: Los Angeles
If you read my post yesterday, I talked about agents who poach clients from other agents. But another crazy-making scenario is when a client leaves 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 be thoughtful and purposeful in 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 If the writer has a number of published or unpublished manuscripts, the agent needs to become familiar with where the career is to understand how to move it forward.
One of the delights of being an agent is that we get to choose whom we work with. (How often can a person say that!?) So we choose our clients not only based on career potential but also based on whether we enjoy working with that person.
Considering the investment the agent makes in a client, agents don’t take it lightly when one leaves. Choose to leave well. How?As in any relationship, if your agent is disappointing you or not meeting expectations in some way, 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, or that your agent had a get-rich scheme, you need to adjust your expectations. Ain’t no agent got the key to those doors.
But if you have concerns that, on reflection, persist, talk to your agent about them. They need to be aired. 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 he’d like to.
For example, I just completed the most complex contract negotiation I’ve ever done, with the publisher I place most of my projects with–therefore many of my clients would be affected by the negotiation. But it took four months of intense work. Was my ability to read proposals and send out manuscripts affected by the time spent in negotiations? Sure. And I’d be happy to explain that to any client who needed to hear it.
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 after she signed with another agent.
What a sad waste for both of us. That author’s momentum will be lost while the new agent gets onboard. 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.