[FONT='Times New Roman','serif']Lesson 6: What Happens If I Need To Fire My Agent?
It's not something most of us want to think about, or may even be aware of when we hire someone to agent our work, but not every agent/author
relationship works out. In fact, most authors go through more than one agent in their careers and most go through more than two or three (I am personally on my third agent). There are lots of reason this may happen.
Why in the world would I ever fire my agent??
The agent can't sell your work and eventually stops trying. That's right. Even with a successful, legitimate agent, you might not sell. And since your agent shouldn't be making ANY money until you do, some agents might stop reading or pitching your work (it happens more than we'd like to think). If your agent isn't reading your work and actively sending it out
then what's the point of having one?
The agent may not be following up to your satisfaction. Even though
an agent may be gung-ho about sending your material out, if they aren't following up, than you won't get anywhere. Part of the great thing about having an agent is that they can follow up at three months or six months at a house where you might have to wait a year before calling. So if your
agent ISN'T following up... then you could easily be doing this on your own and keeping your 15% when you sell.
The agent's vision for your career may veer from your own. Since agents are in the business of selling, I've heard of agents who have encouraged their writers to change their type of story to fit the current
market. If the agent suggests something you've always wanted to write, that change may be okay. But what if she suggests something you aren't really interested in? If you did sell that work, you'd be expected to produce several more in the same vein before you could move on. So if your agent is really pushing you to change your style, you might want to reconsider.
If the agent's practices ever turn questionable. If you ever stop receiving rejections or get the feeling that something stinks in Denmark...
consider firing your agent.
[FONT='Times New Roman','serif']So how do you fire an agent if you feel like your best interest is not
being protected? The answer is in the agent/author agreement. Most agents have a "contract" of sorts. Be sure you read it carefully before you sign and discuss any parts your don't understand or make you uncomfortable. This contract will outline what to do if you ever want to fire your agent, including how much time passes between notification of termination and the actual physical termination and how long the agent has rights to her 15% if the book sells due to her efforts.
If you don't have a contract (which is also completely legitimate), you'll
want to write a letter and send it certified mail. In this letter, you'll want to lay out how much time the agent will receive her commission if the work she's pitched sells due to her efforts. It sucks, but if you fire your
agent on Tuesday and your book sells the following week because of her pitch and her negotiation, she's going to get her 15% for the life of that book even though she won't be negotiating your contract terms or any other work on the book.
Firing an agent is not easy. It may feel like a step back in your career, but you have to ask yourself this question:
[FONT='Times New Roman','serif']Am I better off alone?
If your agent isn't using all her resources to get your work in front of editors, keep them reading it and keep them interested..
. the answer may
very well be yes. So don't be afraid to let go of a relationship that isn't working, especially if you've explored all the avenues of keeping it together to no avail. This is a business and you need to protect your interests and know what's happening to your career at all times.
The next (and final) lesson: But What If I Don't Want An Agent??
Feel free to ask any questions about the lessons so far!