Author Topic: Breaking up while book is out to publishers  (Read 2234 times)

Offline skribbler

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Breaking up while book is out to publishers
« on: December 10, 2019, 10:54:55 AM »
Would like to hear from people, especially authors of literary fiction, who’ve broken up with their agent while their book was still on submission. My ms is on the desks of about ten editors—four since April, the rest since September. I have no confidence I/we will hear back from some of them at all. With others, I expect to hear rejections dribble in over the next few months. My relationship with my agent has been iffy for a long time. The strongest reason to stay with her has been that it was so hard to find representation in the first place. It’s an odd book, not an obvious money maker.

I’d like to find a new rep who’s as enthusiastic in her actions as she is in her (much too occasional) correspondence with me. And especially, who can get replies within weeks rather than months (or years—I’ve been with this person since early 2017). If on the extremely rare chance a publisher gets back to my current agent with an offer someday, I’ll be delighted to give her her 15% for the deal. But in the meantime, I’d really like to move on.

Offline jcwrites

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Re: Breaking up while book is out to publishers
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2019, 11:24:28 AM »

But in the meantime, I’d really like to move on.


Do you mean move on with the same project or with different work?

Offline skribbler

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Re: Breaking up while book is out to publishers
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2019, 12:18:43 PM »
JC,

I mean move on to another agent, but with the same project. Which is what complicates it, since it would mean the same book would be going out to different places with a new agent. The overlap would be confusing and probably wouldn't work. But that just leaves me waiting on all the places my current agent has submitted to. Which could be months, or never.

It's a pickle.

Online kaperton

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Re: Breaking up while book is out to publishers
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2019, 02:35:57 PM »
I would say don't break up with your agent if the only reason is how long things are taking, or that he/she doesn't communicate enough. If there are other major issues, that's a different story.

I've only ever had one agent--mine--but I feel like I've read your story many times, and it makes me wonder if this isn't how most agents are? Again, I can only compare it to my agent. I love her, I know she's enthusiastic about my ms, but she can take ages to get back to me (to the point where I've googled her to make sure she isn't dead), and in general, things aren't moving nearly as fast as I'd like them to. But I think this is the world of publishing. We hear stories of people who sell their ms in a day, but the painful reality for most of us is that this part of the process takes a long-ass time, and many books will never sell. My agent sent my ms to 21 editors in March, and it took until September to hear from some of them. (One of the ones who didn't respond until September wanted it, but couldn't sell her team on it--so taking a long time is not necessarily a no.) I believe in my agent completely; I just think she's outrageously busy, and a lot of times she's just waiting on editors.

Sorry if I'm telling you what you already know, but it took me a while to understand how painfully slow this process is. This reddit thread https://www.reddit.com/r/PubTips/comments/b43zlv/pubq_publishedagented_authors_how_long_did_it/ is worth reading. It won't make you feel better, but it will let you know you're not alone.

I spoke to an author of many published books and she said (email quote), "It's VERY VERY VERY common for the book that landed an agent to not be the book that sells first. I talk to writers at this level all the time, and it's really hard to push past the discouragement but it's SO IMPORTANT to remember that you got over that first hurdle [getting an agent], which is monumental."

Think of your agent as the industry professional who will help you write your next book, giving you feedback along the way. You have an in--I wouldn't give that up, unless you had multiple agent offers back when you got your agent, and you feel confident you could get another one.

Feel free to dm me if you ever want to commiserate! This process is brutal.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2019, 02:38:42 PM by kaperton »

Offline slightlysmall

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Re: Breaking up while book is out to publishers
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2019, 04:20:27 PM »
JC,

I mean move on to another agent, but with the same project. Which is what complicates it, since it would mean the same book would be going out to different places with a new agent. The overlap would be confusing and probably wouldn't work. But that just leaves me waiting on all the places my current agent has submitted to. Which could be months, or never.

It's a pickle.

This is a really hard prospect. Moving on with a new project is definitely doable. I've watched friend after friend of mine do this. But, 90 percent of the time or more, if a project has been on sub at all, a new agent won't sub it again. It sucks that that's the case, but... it seems to be the case.

Offline skribbler

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Re: Breaking up while book is out to publishers
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2019, 04:36:25 PM »
Thanks, you guys.

I work in publishing, so I'm aware of the glacial pace. But this has been glacial even by my extremely low expectations: 2 yrs+ from time she asked to read the ms until time we finally sent the book to publishers. But slightlysmall is right that prospects for a new agent are quite dim. Sometimes I think I just want this hope to die a quick death so I can work on another book without distraction. Or stop worrying about writing altogether. Just go surfing without distraction.

Offline jcwrites

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Re: Breaking up while book is out to publishers
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2019, 04:54:07 PM »
@skribbler: "...Or stop worrying about writing altogether. Just go surfing without distraction."

Let me know if you figure that out.

Online kaperton

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Re: Breaking up while book is out to publishers
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2019, 06:40:15 PM »
But this has been glacial even by my extremely low expectations: 2 yrs+ from time she asked to read the ms until time we finally sent the book to publishers.

Oh, yikes. Yeah, that is excruciating.

Offline Tabris

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Re: Breaking up while book is out to publishers
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2019, 08:18:14 PM »
I would say get another book ready for sub, break up with your agent according to the terms of the contract, and submit the new book to new agents. If you land an agent with the new project, the agent may be interested in the previous project if s/he has prospective editors who haven't seen it. Moreover, if the current crop of editors doesn't actually get around to rejecting it, then a new agent could in effect nudge or follow up and maybe get eyes on the project then.

My ex-agent was like that: enthusiastic in email and slow beyond belief when doing edits or following up with editors. Nothing's ever going to happen that way.