Colin Smith asked:
Without disagreeing with what you said (I value my limbs), doesn't the agent who dropped poor Opie have a point? After all, if an agent doesn't love your work, it'll be really hard for that agent to sell it. That's what we keep being told--and I believe it. So, while it was a betrayal of an agreement, wasn't the agent simply being consistent with that idea of only representing what s/he loves? I know you love many of the novels your colleagues at New Leaf represent. But do you think you could represent any one of them with the same passion? Just saying, I think it's a tough call on both sides.
There's a difference between taking on a novel from jump, and salvaging a client who's been summarily dumped. It's true that agents leave agencies and clients are left in the lurch. But to just say "tough luck Frank Buck" is bad bad bad business.
I've sold novels I didn't love. I've sold novels I haven't read. I've sold novels I thought needed work. A lot of times that's cause I was selling stuff I hadn't signed.
When an author is told his representation is with an agency, not just the agent, he relies on that for making a decision about representation. It's brutally unfair to the author to renege.
Mark Conrad asked:
A further question I have, and I should have posed it to Janet originally, is: is it typical for editors to not respond to a pitch like that (4 out of 5 didn’t)? It’s expected of agents these days, but also editors?
It's clear this guy was new and didn't have established relationships.
The missing piece of (crucial) info here is how much time went by. 30 days? No one has replied. 180 days? Everyone should have, or the submissions should have been closed out.
BJ Muntain asked:
Janet: A question. Since there were no clients to check for references, would Mark have been within his rights to ask the Head agent what they thought before accepting representation? Or even another agent at the agency? Just curious.Well, you can do whatever you want in that situation. There's no law against asking anybody anything (ok ok, don't look for exceptions)
BUT, I'd have advised a young agent to run fast in the other direction if a prospective client started phoning around here for references. That speaks of a lack of confidence that is Not A Good Thing at the start of a relationship.
The client relied on what the agent told him. It's unfortunate that he seems to be the only one who did.
Colin Smith dangled this question:
What do you think, Janet? Legal experts?
Yea, not not not commenting on a contract/agreement I haven't actually seen.
That is the way of doom.