Thursday, February 4, 2021

 Dear O'Abby,

I'm hoping you will have some advice for me because I find myself in kind of a tricky position.  I have an agent and we've worked really well together on three projects over the last five years.

But she's leaving the agency and agenting to take up a new role.  None of the other agents at her agency look after books in my genre/style, so she has suggested the best thing for me is to terminate the agency agreement so I can start looking for new representation ASAP.

I'm kind of devastated by this.  It took me over five years and three books to get an agent in the first place, so for this to happen feels like a huge blow to me personally and to my writing career.

What should I do?



Dear Agentless,

I sympathise with you.  I have been in a similar situation and know exactly how crushingly disappointing it can feel.  

But I also think it's a common misconception that writers find an agent and they ride off into the sunset together and live happily ever after.

It's not uncommon for writers to have several agents over the course of a career, so the situation you find yourself in is not at all unusual.  Writers leave agents, and agents leave agenting.  It sounds like your agent is being very supportive of you finding a new agent in that she understands there is no one within her current agency who would best represent you and is freeing you up to look for someone who can.  Think how much worse it would be to be handed off to another agent within the agency who doesn't like or understand what you love to write!

You've had an agent now, so you know you can write a query that grabs attention.  You didn't mention if your current agent managed to sell any of the books you worked on with her, but if she did, then you know you can write a book publishers want.  So you're in a much stronger position now than you were when you were querying five years ago.

It's probably best to query new agents with a new project, a clean slate, if you have one.  Once you have a relationship, then you can have a conversation about what best to do with the books you worked on with your old agent that may not have been sold.

Be honest with the agents you query and let them know the situation.  Make sure your current agent lets you know what the status is with any of the books you've worked on together. She should be able to let you know which editors they have been pitched to so your new agent won't waste time submitting something they have already seen and rejected.

I know it's hard, and the idea of diving back into the query trenches can be terrifying and soul destroying.  But try to think of it as a new opportunity.  A fresh start. A new set of eyes on your work.

It's okay to feel sad.  Any relationship break-up is difficult.  Feel free to wallow for a day or two.  Eat chocolate and drink wine (responsibly of course) and cry in front of trashy Netflix movies.  Then get to writing the killer query for your new book you know you can write and get out there and nab yourself a new agent.  

You know how to do it.



1 comment:

  1. Great advice. Although I can see it's a quite a jolt. I wish whoever that is good luck.


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