I have an agent who successfully sold my memoir and I am so grateful. She has best selling clients so I don't make her much money. However, she is fairly unresponsive. I don't nudge her often at all. Perhaps 3 x a year. When this happens, my emails go unanswered or she does eventually set up a phone call, but either she never calls, or reschedules repeatedly. I sent her my latest ms a year ago and she thought she could sell it, but I have gotten nothing---either progress reports or "I can't sell this".
I hate to let go of a bird in the hand. She took a big chance on me as an unknown when she wasn't taking on new clients, because of a referral. The person who referred me loves her! (He is also a best selling author). At the same time I am not getting any younger. Technically my contract with her was only for the one work, but I wanted to stay with her because I appreciated her efforts. Now I'm not so sure! How do I tactfully approach her, keeping in mind that she likely has an unbearable workload?
Or is this normal when you have small fish?
If you have time to give me any guidance I would love it.
The question isn't what's normal, the question is what's going to advance your writing career.
I recently received an email from a valued client with the subject line "not feeling the love." She told me pretty candidly that she wasn't very happy with my lack of communication.
She was right.
Even if I thought she was wrong, she was still right, because she was telling me what she felt.
By telling me in a straightforward way I could choose to either apologize and do better (while of course explaining that yes, I HAD been kidnapped by aliens) or tell her that this was how I worked and maybe we needed to reassess whether she was happy here. (I apologized and gave her an idea of when she'd have a more cogent answer.)
Communication (or lack thereof) is the single biggest reason I hear for clients leaving agents.
There is no right or wrong way of staying in touch. There's what works and what doesn't. I probably don't need to point out that this agent's style isn't working for you.
Give her an opportunity to hear what will work for you and do it.
And by work for you, I don't mean something amorphous like "better" or "more." Be specific: If you email her, you expect an answer of some sort in a week. If you send a manuscript, you expect a timeline for when it will be read.
These are not unreasonable requests or petulant demands. This is business relationship, and you're providing the intellectual property that drives the revenue stream.
I urge you STRONGLY to speak up, be clear, and follow through.
Not all agents are right for every author.
All authors deserve an agent who treats them with respect.