An AGENT OBVIOUS TIP that needs more than 140 characters
AGENT OBVIOUS tips include unsolicited advice for authors, agents, and editors. I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I hear stories from dozens of authors, agents, and editors. Every “tip” is supported by multiple examples. That doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions, but still I never expect any of these tips to shock people who have spent a lot of time in publishing—thus the “obvious” in the title.
AGENT OBVIOUS TIP OF THE DAY: An author never fires an agent without a new agent (or deal) already in place.
This caused quite the Twitter uproar, much to my surprise. Some agents thought I was giving advice to authors. Let me be clear, I am not. What an author should do is terminate an agreement with one agent before trying to find another one. But let’s get real. I’ve had editors and authors (whom I already represent) reach out and say, “Laurie, I’ve got a friend who’s having a rough time with his agent, and I was wondering if you might be interested in talking to him.”
Sure, I could say, “Absolutely not. He must terminate his agreement before I’ll even speak to him. How dare you suggest such a thing.”
Or I could say, “I won’t speak with him unless he’s free and clear of his current agent, but I can tell you that I would be very interested in speaking with him when he is. And I hope that he will be. Soon. Here’s my private number.”
But the reality is that if an author is intent on finding a new agent, it doesn’t matter if I refuse to talk to the person or not. And the reality is that I have talked to authors who are intent on leaving but haven’t left yet. I’ve also had authors approach me and not disclose that they’re already represented until after I’ve expressed interest.
More importantly, however, this particular AGENT OBVIOUS TIP is based on the fact that of the handful of authors who have left me, all but one had representation or a book deal waiting in the wings that they didn’t disclose to me. I know of multiple instances when that’s been the case for other agents as well.
Thus the takeaway of this AGENT OBVIOUS TIP is for agents: If an author tells you she wants to explore other options, chances are she already has.