Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sometimes Things Change - Parting Ways With Agents

Saying goodbye and going different ways is tough. I am not going to mince words about this. In business, there are times when both parties find that what they had is just not working any more, and taking different paths is really the best option. Still, it is not an easy decision.

I do have to say, in publishing, and especially with the agent/author relationship, this can be especially hard. The two of you have shared the a lot together. You had the excitement of "the first call" the joys of completing those next projects, the time you spent fighting through the latest work in progress, and yes, you both shared the pain of the rejection letters. Depending on how long the relationship has been going on, you may have gotten to the point when you were talking about family life and things beyond the books and the industry.

But now one, or both of you see that things might not work out. Maybe it is a change of attitude about writing. Maybe one person sees a project going one way and the other sees a different path. This doesn't mean one person is right or wrong. It simply means that there were different opinions. There could also be the case when maybe an agent feels that he or she just can't do any more to help the author out with the writing. The agent has tried all avenues and things just came to a stand still.

Regardless of the reason, sometimes parting ways is the best thing that can happen, but this needs to be done in complete honesty, with a lot of respect and certainly wishing all the best as they move down their separate paths. This does not have to be a bitter divorce. Just remember, the two of you will still meet at conferences and you don't want harsh feelings. You don't want to burn bridges because there may be a time when you do need each other.

The nice thing about the agent/author arrangement is that, although there is a contract and there is the business side of things, this split does not need to be one that leaves people in tears or hating the world. In fact, this can often be one that works out for the best with everyone, and you can still be friends.


  1. Nice post. Last year my agent and I parted ways, amicably, because we disagreed on the direction my book should take. But I learned a lot from her and have always appreciated that. (Meanwhile, I'm happy to say I found a publisher for my book.) But I felt the way you describe above -- if we meet at conferences, I want it to be very comfortable.

  2. I will most likely never leave my agent.