Thursday, May 16, 2019

Feeling restive


I have a dilemma. I’m completing a multiple book deal that my agent, who was the only one willing to take a chance on me, obtained. Although I enjoy working with my agent and believe the publisher will be amenable to more books in the series, I not only want to continue the series, but would like to expand my writing into areas my agent doesn’t specialize in. I also understand not all editors care for submissions from my agent. Do I sever ties and query agents again, praying someone takes me, or do I enter into a new contract for additional books in this series or ????

Sign me – Wondering if A Bird in Hand is Better than Two in the Bush

First, if you want to expand the categories you write in, the first thing to do is talk to your current agent to see how she handles these kinds of situations. I doubt you're the first of her clients with this goal.

As for the second question, I STRONGLY urge you not to listen to petty gossip. You either heard this from an actual working editor who has NO business bad mouthing your agent to you, or you heard it from someone else, and that's second hand at best.

Yes I have had inquiries from writers who were told they need a new agent by their editor. It is very rare, and prompted not by submissions but by things like the agent negotiating in bad faith, being impossible to work with, inculcating the author with unrealistic expectations about marketing and publicity etc.

Absent actual bad-agent-behaviour, leaving for greener pastures is shortsighted. An author with an established series is not an enticing prospect for a new agent; it will take a while to actually see any money from new deals.

And if someone comes to me having had an agent, I ask pretty detailed questions about why that parting happened.

Sometimes they escaped a bad agent and have the contracts to prove it.
Other times they were frustrated and impatient and just made a change.

You can guess which situation is more appealing.

When you're feeling frustrated and unhappy it's very tempting to just change something, anything you can. Unlike cutting your hair, which grows back, cutting ties with your agent is almost always a no-do-over kind of thing. Think long and hard about this.

12 comments:

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I am not sure I would walk away from a deal in hand. If you've got a 2-3 book deal, finish it. Write something else, yes. I do that to keep fresh with my fantasy books (which is why I take so long), but get those second and third books done. This is only my take looking from the dark side of the query trenches with no agent at all.

Good luck, OP.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

"I understand not all editors care for submissions from my agent" seems like the actual problem here.

Like, "Hey, agent, I was thinking about writing X, will you still rep that or......?" is a sort of easy conversation to start. "Hey, agent, what's the deal with some editors saying...." is not. And, as Ms. Reid says, did you hear that from a credible source?

There are so many things to be anxious about as a writer, and "do editors like my agent/will editors work with my agent" is, I guess, definitely one of them.

Dena Pawling said...


>>I’m completing a multiple book deal that my agent, who was the only one willing to take a chance on me, obtained.

Maybe I'm missing something but if your agent was the ONLY one willing to take a chance on you, that implies you queried a LOT of agents. Not only that, but s/he obtained a MULTI-BOOK DEAL for you. Your agent believes in you, got a good contract for you, and you like working with him/her. On these facts, congratulations! I wouldn't mess with a good thing.

>>Although I enjoy working with my agent and believe the publisher will be amenable to more books in the series, I not only want to continue the series, but would like to expand my writing into areas my agent doesn’t specialize in.

(1) You want to write more books in the series. Talk to your agent [the one who took a chance on you and it paid off rather well, wouldn't you say?] about whether the publisher is interested in more books in the series. If there's no interest, discuss a self-publishing or other option. There's also the idea of writing a new series in the same genre, which it would appear your agent can probably sell.

(2) Also, talk to your agent about the idea of you "branching out". Even Janet has at least one client who decided to branch out and write picture books and she connected him with an agent to rep his picture books. To the best of my knowledge she still reps him for his other stuff.

>>I also understand not all editors care for submissions from my agent.

This is only a wild guess, but I suspect editors at Harlequin wouldn't be too keen on submissions from Janet. I think you need a lot more facts before you can assume this means your agent will see closed doors for future stuff you write. S/he got you a multi-book deal, remember? Talk to your agent, write your new stuff [either in this series, different series but same genre, or branching out], and if you get no bites, THEN consider making a change. Basically, it's not yet broke, so nothing needs fixing.

Amy Johnson said...

OP, congratulations on having an agent and a multiple book deal! Are you sure you really have a dilemma? You said you are happy working with your current agent. You have a multiple book deal obtained by your current agent. You want to continue writing the series, and you believe the publisher will be amenable to continuing the series. Then there's the part about your wanting to expand your writing into other categories. After you take Janet's advice and talk to your agent about this (I'm not even considering the possibility that you would not take Janet's advice lol), then maybe you would have a choice to make. But maybe good news will come from talking with your agent. I'm not sure how things work in such a situation, and I suppose different agencies handle things differently, but if your agent does work with other agents at an agency, as opposed to independently, I wonder if you're considered a client of the agency (not only a client of your agent). If so, and if your current agent doesn't represent books in the new category you want to write in, perhaps another agent there could represent the new category books, while you continue to work with your current agent on the current series.

Does that happen (two agents at one agency working with one client writing in two categories)? (I'm hoping someone here will answer that for us both, OP.)

Hope it all works out great for you!

Jennifer Mugrage said...

OP, on the one hand, I would love to be in your shoes. An agent ... A multiple book deal ... I can only dream.

On the other hand, I can see that you're feeling truly anxious, and I don't want to pile on.

My takeaway is that crises and worries - real or imagined - will continue to come up at every stage of our publishing journey.

Amy Johnson said...

Yikes! When I started writing my comment, there was only one other comment. I'm poky. Seems at least some of what I said got covered in the meantime. I'll leave my comment in case anything there is still useful. Now I keep hearing the Gumby theme song in my head. "...with his pony pal Pokey, too..."

And now I see at least one comment has posted while I've been working on this one. I had to look up "poky." And it's a good thing I did, as the spelling I originally used means "jail" instead of "annoyingly slow." And I had to look up the spelling of the name of Gumby's pony pal. And I had to look up the lyrics of the theme song. And who knows what I should have looked up but missed.

Morgan Hazelwood said...

E.M. Goldsmith OP said they were FINISHING their multi-book contract. I don't think they were trying to find a new agent before they finished their pre-existing contract.

Amy You WERE right. Pokey IS a nickname for jail: https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=Pokey

Morgan Hazelwood said...

Whoops! I read too fast. But! Etymonline also suggests 'pokey' has been used as an alt spelling (properly or not? they don't care.)

Jennifer Mugrage said...

Bertie Wooster calls jail "chokey."

????

Lennon Faris said...

Whoa. You are working on a multiple-book deal? That is amazing, first off - good job. Your agent obtained said deal? Kudos to her - from that tiny bit of info, she actually sounds like a pretty good agent.

Surely there are things here omitted by OP. Since I don't know those things, I will not assume OP just runs when a good thing smacks them over the head. I'll try anyway.

Good luck, OP!

Craig F said...

The grass is always greener on the greener side, until you step in that steaming wheelbarrow load of dragon dung.

I think you put too good of batteries in your rodent wheel.

Jen said...

I'm late to the game on this one, but agree with previous posters.

OP, a multi-book deal is nothing to scoff at unless there's something else going on behind the scenes you didn't mention. Work on this series to the best of your ability (because it's going to take a LOT of time and effort), and see what happens. Again, unless I read your concern incorrectly, you seem to be worrying about something (perhaps writing in other genres) that's WAY down the road when you have enough on your plate in the here and now.

Whatever you decide, good luck to you! I think your deal sounds awesome, and I wish you much success. :)