Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Q. I have an agent, but I'm beginning to feel like she is not working on my behalf—or that maybe we are just not a good fit. Am I expecting too much? How do I know whether or not I have a legitimate cause for concern?

A. Your agent needs to be a partner in the development of your writing career. She should be helping you plan each step in your career and be excited about your writing and where it's going. If you don't feel like your agent is working on your behalf, there may definitely be some legitimate reasons for those feelings. Here are some questions you may need to answer to determine if you are being impatient, or if your agent simply is not performing as she should. Is your agent getting you book contracts? If so, are you happy with the terms (especially advance and royalty rates) that she negotiates for you? Does she sell your subsidiary rights? Do you hear from her in response to your e-mails or phone calls in a timely manner? (Hopefully you are not bugging her unnecessarily.) Is she keeping you posted on the publisher contacts she has made on your behalf and reporting the results? Is she sending on your royalty checks in a timely manner? Do you feel like the agent is still excited about your work and its prospects of selling? Has she quit paying any attention to you? Do you feel like she is giving up too soon when your book proposal has only been rejected a few times? And, finally, do you have the feeling your career is not growing and expanding with the help of this agent? The answers to those questions should give you a pretty clear idea of where you stand.
One good thing about most author-agent relationships is they can be dissolved quite easily. Check the contract you signed with your agent originally and see what it says about what it takes to end the relationship. Often it only takes a written request with a 30-day notice. Keep in mind that if this agent has already sold one or more books for you, she remains the “agent of record” for those contracts and will continue to handle your royalty statements and get her percentage on those titles as long as they remain in print. Note, too, that the contract may also indicate that if the book, or one of the books, she has been trying to sell eventually sells to one of the publishers she has contacted, she will either still be listed as the agent or get some compensation for that. Don't take any action until you have carefully studied the contract for the exact terms for termination, and followed them to the letter.


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