First of all, thank you for the slap upside the head (blog post of Tuesday, March 3rd). I think I needed to generate some anger, and you helped me do that. I will make one more good-faith effort to contact my agent; if I fail, I'll consult my contract and write that letter. Because you're right--this is my life, my writing life, and it's just dribbling away from me.
But I do have one last question, and it's a good one: as far as I know, my book is still out there with seven publishing houses. How do I find out what happened to it? I do have a list of all the editors. May I email|call to find out where the manuscript stands with them? (And suppose, just suppose, that one of them actually likes it and wants to . . . pursue it further. Would that pull the agent back into the picture for negotiations and a 15% commission? Unlikely, this last, I know, but I like to be prepared for all possible outcomes. If Martians land on the roof, I'm ready.)
Since you've got the sub list you email the editors to let them know that you've changed representation. Of course, you send this AFTER you've terminated.
You don't need to explain why.
You do NOT ask the status of the submission.
This is just info only.
Should your agent rise from the dead to let you know s/he got the termination letter, s/he will probably say s/he'll withdraw the submission. That's normal.
The question is now if this flurry of activity coughs up an offer.
If it does, you're in a bit of a pickle because the agent is still entitled to the full commission. It doesn't seem fair now, I know, but you're honor and duty bound to pay it for a certain amount of time after you've parted ways. Your author agency agreement should specify how long. If it doesn't, six months is reasonable.
And you'll want someone else negotiating the contract. Which means you're going to pay for a contract review specialist or a second commission to a second agent.
BUT the good bad news is that if your agent isn't keeping you informed, chances are the submission is languishing too. Editors are increasingly unlikely to respond until you've pestered them to the point you're starting to feel sorry for them. "There's that Janet Reid on the phone again. Doesn't she have a blog post to write??"