Thursday, August 03, 2006

Saying Goodbye to Your Agent

STATUS: Unbelievable but true. I’m traveling again. This time not for business. A family reunion in Milwaukee. In truth, I just want to work for the next 2 weeks solid and get caught up rather than travel (sad but true)! I’m so happy that there are no other trips scheduled until October.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? My sister-in-law is playing a song on a baby toy. Don’t recognize the tune. My new nephew (Toby) is 6 months old.

Two weeks ago I was fired.

It came out of the blue via a certified letter. I’ve had a couple of weeks to get used to it but it still hurts—although it happens to all agents at any given time in our career.

But let me clarify. It doesn’t hurt because she fired me; it hurts because she didn’t talk to me first. We didn’t get a chance to discuss any issues nor did I have an opportunity to fix what was wrong. I had no idea that she was considering it.

And actually, to give my former client her due, it was a really nice letter. She really acknowledged all the time we spent together doing revisions etc. In fact, I don’t think it was a bad move on her part. She was one of the first clients I took on (in the infancy of my agency) and even though I shopped two of her manuscripts, I never could sell her.

Maybe what she really needs is a fresh perspective to really jumpstart where she is in her career. I totally respect that.

But darn it, I feel like I failed her and I have to rant just a little about the certified-letter approach.

I know the agenting/author relationship is a strange one. After all, agenting is the only job I know where the agent chooses whether a client hires her or not and the client doesn’t get to decide until offered. In that context, that is a little odd. But if you, as the author, are thinking about walking, why wouldn’t you talk with the agent first before taking that step? It’s a tiny bit of consideration and I’m sure that if the circumstances were reversed and you were about to be fired from your job, you’d want a chat or a heads up first, right?

Now wait. I know you are all planning to jump in here and say stuff like, “I can’t get my agent to return my phone calls or emails,” or “my agent embezzled my money or is a drunk” or anything else equally reprehensible.

If that’s the case, I certainly don’t blame you for walking and power to you for doing it. I’m talking about agents who have worked hard and have been communicative. Who have done their jobs to the best of their ability.

It’s okay to want to leave. I’m just saying I wouldn’t mind a phone call first. At the very least, allow me to say good-bye and good luck.