What’s playing on the iPod right now? MRS. ROBINSON by Simon & Garfunkel
First off, I have to say that I’m not talking about scamming agents with these last few entries. If someone wants you to pay a fee, be it a reading, editing, critique, signing, or what have you, you should have lost that loving feeling even before you began making out a check. And that goes for that whole Sobel Contest scam highlighted by Miss Snark and Galleycat and bunch of other bloggers.
I’m talking about agents with verifiable sales, are legitimate, but aren’t meeting author expectations.
It’s those reasons I want to chat about.
So, here’s the list so far.
#1 Complaint: poor communication
No updates on submission lists
Not returning calls or emails either at all or not in a prompt fashion
#2 Complaint: Not shopping projects
Agents sitting on them for too long a period of time/no feedback
Forgetting them when they are out on submission
Forgetting them altogether and is surprised when the author calls for an update
Sending only to 5 or 6 editors and then giving up
#3 Complaint: Original agent leaving and author being passed to another agent
The new agent doesn’t feel the love
#4 Complaint: Inept submitting of projects
Agents getting the info about the author and project incorrect.
This wasn’t in the comments but I participated in a chat loop this week and an author was pretty steamed that the agent had done a mass submission with hers just one of several client projects sent to an editor.
Not reading the project even before sending
#5 Complaint: Lack of career planning
Agents who basically submit projects but don’t do anything else.
#6 Inability to sell manuscript
All the other complaints are pretty darn valid. This one gives me pause because hey, there have been projects I haven’t been able to sell. No agent can sell everything he or she takes on. Now I have to say my sell-through is pretty darn high but it’s still not 100%.
On the other hand, sometimes I can understand why an author would want to make a change. Maybe a new agent can create what the other agent can’t. I have my blindspots. Maybe a new agent can see what I can’t or maybe the material has become too familiar and a fresh set of eyes is needed.
#7 Complaint: Personality conflict
Agent too cold or distant
Working styles too different
These reasons seem pretty valid to me. My suggestion? When an agent offers representation, ask for the contact info of current clients. Then contact those folks and get the scoop. How does the agent work? What is the communication style? Have there been any hiccups? Any agent drawbacks? Etc.
I’m always happy to forward on the email and phone numbers of current clients (with their permission) who are happy to talk with a potential new client about me.
That’s your best bet for getting the inside info on an agent. Even with this, I’ve heard of agents who were right for one author but so not right for another. It happens.
Happy weekend folks.