Friday, March 21, 2008

Do you need a "Network" moment***

This pops up in my email after an exchange with a client helping a fellow-writer friend.

And yes, I agree, that talking with the agent is best. But I do sympathize with this person. We spend so long trying to get an agent it's hard to get over the feeling that you should walk on eggshells to avoid doing anything that might make them angry. No one wants to find themselves scouring through AgentQuery again. (There was a recent post on a message board from a member who is a client of a well-respected agent who has been ignoring their phone calls and emails and requests for updates for months. And rather than being thoroughly pissed at this treatment, they're still worried about offending the agent.)

It's simply not acceptable for your agent to ignore you. I'm as guilty of this sometimes as the next agent, particularly when I'm busy on things with looming deadlines or I just don't have much news to report, but it's still NOT ok for your agent to ignore you.

Saying it's not ok though doesn't make it not happen. Here's what you need to remember. Agents don't want to lose clients. You're our source of revenue. If you're unhappy, you have bargaining power. You obviously can't threaten to leave too often and you can't use it with minor matters. But if you are seriously wondering if your agent is dead cause you haven't heard from her/him, don't accept that as a writer's lot. It's NOT.

There are worse things than looking for a new agent. Having an agent who doesn't treat you with the respect you deserve is one of them.

***I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!


Travis Erwin said...

It is posts like this that do all of us writers a great service. We need these bits of agently insight just to keep our sanity.

jovic said...

This happened to me. I was a new writer without a published book so I walked on egg shells for seven months. Finally I got sick of it. I realized that I didn't want to have a business relationship with someone I was scared of. I ended it and it only took me about six weeks to find a handful of new agents who were interested and one who I signed with. I am beyond happy with this new agent and she has NEVER made me feel like I am a bother. She answers all my emails in a timely manner and I have to say that frankly, it's like dating. Would you want to date someone you're scared of? No? Move on already. But more importantly, do more homework so you make a better choice next time. I chose my first agent based on the agent's prestige and track record. This time I interviewed prospective agents' clients and read their books before I decided who to go with.

kitty said...

If I don't get another chance, I want to wish Janet and everyone here (who celebrates Easter) a Happy Easter!


Jamie Hall said...

I've heard that some agents fire their writers this way: just stop communicating entirely and wait months until the writer finally realizes it.

Janet Reid said...

Gotta love THAT as a business strategy.

Jillian said...

I had an agent like that. And, being green behind the ears and rather stupid, I was terrified of her.

Really, I was.

It was long enough ago now that I don't think about it much. But it ended up being a good thing, because it was the Huge Butt Kick I needed to dig in and really learn about this business, this (alternate) universe of agenting and publishing.

In retrospect, I think she regretted taking me on from the beginning, and decided to string me along (telling a few lies along the way) until I got tired of her. That didn't stop her from verbally abusing me over the phone when I finally severed the ties, though.

I don't think I'll ever really understand that particular relationship in my life. I'm just glad it's over.

Margaret Yang said...

Jamie Hall is correct. It happens all the time. Three of my friends were "fired" by their agents this way. I can hardly believe agents--or anyone--will behave like that, but they will. The agent just stops communicating until the writer figures it out and ends the relationship.

I can kind of see why it happens. The agent then does not have a blot on her repuation. It wasn't that she chose badly, or couldn't sell the book, it was that the writer got impatient and ended the relationship before the agent could sell it. (Or so the agent can claim.)

Is it any wonder that writers get paranoid when their agent does not return calls?

It happens in areas outside of writing too. In my day job I hire independent contractors. Several have just stopped showing up to work rather than formally quit. Then I have to be the bad guy and fire them.