1. NotMyRealName
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    NotMyRealName New Member

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    How much patience to have with an agent.

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by NotMyRealName, Mar 12, 2012.

    Hi, y'all don't know me, but I wanted to get opinions from some other writers.

    I've had an agent for about a half a year now, we subbed in the fall got some rejections and one two-page editorial feedback. I spent three months giving my manuscript a massive overhaul, and I think it's vastly improved over the one we subbed in the fall.

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    I sent it to my agent a month ago. He didn't respond.

    The next week I sent an updated synopsis to go with the new manuscript. He didn't respond.

    A week later I sent a gentle nudge, asking if he'd had a chance to read it yet. He responded, not yet, he'd try to get to it on the weekend and he would get in contact with me next week.

    A week and a half has passed without contact.

    He never gave me a sub-list, even when I asked about it (didn't respond to that e-mail at all). I never even found out which publisher sent the notes. When I was just starting on the re-write his assistant e-mailed and asked to check the first few chapters, to see if she had any suggestions, I sent the chapters but never heard back from her either.

    All this while he's open to queries and throwing his hat in the ring for query competitions and such. To which I'm thinking, if he doesn't have time for me now, why is he taking on even more clients?

    If my agent wasn't AAR with a solid track-record (but not a brilliant one, no best-sellers or anything) I'd have walked by now, but I'm beginning to wonder. When should I cut my losses and move on? He seems to be a good agent, and an honest person, but he's just over-worked, and never has the time for me.

    What do you all think?
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma New Member Contributor

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    What country are you in ?
  3. NotMyRealName
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    NotMyRealName New Member

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    United States

    My agent is in NYC if that helps.
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma New Member Contributor

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    ok I'll leave it to someone who knows the US market better. I know in the UK market even the best agents no longer guarantee to place your book, and that stories they could've sold ten years ago may not sell as publishers become more conservative. It is no reflection on the author's work.

    I don't know how long it takes various publishers to get back to agents. Six months doesn't feel like a long time to place a book, but I don't know.
  5. NotMyRealName
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    NotMyRealName New Member

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    Not really what I was asking. I'm not concerned that the process has gone six months so far. I am concerned that communication is not forthcoming, and even when I initiate, my agent rarely replies. I am concerned that it's taken over a month to read my manuscript, and even when he told me he'd contact me he did not. I'm concerned, in short, because it seems like he does not have the time for me as a client, and yet is open for queries and throwing in on contests in an attempt to take on even more clients.

    Is it too much to expect that if he cannot review my manuscript within a month he at least have the decency to close to submissions? It makes it seem like he'd rather have a new client than deal with an existing one.
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma New Member Contributor

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    I don't personally think a month is a long time to read a manuscript, just based on how long a decent beta read takes me and I generally only have two or three at a time to worry about, but I am sure someone else who has more experience can answer.
  7. Gonissa
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    Gonissa New Member

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    How do you pay him? Is it on a regular basis, or according to work he does for you? If it's regular, tell him, in a very pleasant and calm voice, you plan on paying him when he plans on doing the work. Or that's just how I'd feel about it, lol.

    To be fair, I don't know much about agents, but if mine hadn't even read my work like that, I would tell him in so many (polite) words that I feel he's paying too much attention to new clients rather than taking care of the ones he has. Maybe he'll realize he was and start paying more attention. If not...well, I hope it's not too hard for you to get another one or go alone. Stephen King didn't seem to think too highly of agents, and yet he's got at least a four-foot section of the used bookstore I work at, so who knows?
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I have no clue, personally, but the first place I go when I wonder about these things (I'm not published or anywhere near it, so, again, I have no clue) is AnneMini's site, Author! Author! I wandered over to read the stuff under the tag "after you land an agent", and I don't know if she actually answers your specific question, but it's interesting.
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma New Member Contributor

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    I've spoken to some friends (all UK I am afraid) questions to ponder - are there any major book fairs, conventions or awards right now? I know there are a few May time friends are attending he may be preparing for them.
  10. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Hi NotMyRealName

    I sympathise with you - I was signed by an agent about 6 months ago too, and since then I've had relatively little feedback on my manuscript. I'm doing an extensive rewrite of a first draft that she hasn't even seen, but based on the first 3 chapters of the rewrite she agreed to represent me. I sent her the next couple of chapters last month, and her only feedback was to tell me to keep going, get more of it written. It's frustrating because I don't know if I'm on the right track - I'm hoping she would tell me if I wasn't, but the lack of any detailed critique of what I've sent her so far is a bit disheartening.

    To add make things worse, she also represents a bestselling author (who I know personally) and whenever we get together to talk about publishing etc, he's all she talks about. Now, because I'm friends with him I'm happy to hear about his work and how he's selling, but I also want to talk about MY book, where it's going, whether she likes what she's seen so far, what she thinks of my characters... It's tough because we knew each other before she became my agent so our relationship is not purely agent/author, and sometimes I wonder whether she is only humouring me and isn't really interested in my book at all... people tell me not, but I can't help getting that impression when she doesn't seem inclined to talk about my novel.

    Your situation sounds a little similar in that you think your agent is more interested in other clients, but I don't think there's any excuse for not communicating with you. Can you pick up the phone and call him? Maybe a decent conversation about it would clear the air and give you some assurances?
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Supporter Contributor

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    gonissa...
    agents work on commission, not on salary or fees... so you do NOT pay your agent... s/he only gets paid when a publisher accepts your book and then s/he simply takes 15% off the top of whatever YOU get paid [includes advance, if there is one, and all royalties]...

    legit agents don't get a penny directly from your pocket... any that ask for anything at all are not legit and should be reported to p&e and any agent's association they may belong to...

    notmyrealname...
    who is the agent?... have you checked to see if he's listed on preditors & editors?

    communication is key, so if your agent is not making himself available to you, i'd find a new one pronto... have you tried a phone call, to ask why your letters haven't been responded to?
  12. NotMyRealName
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    NotMyRealName New Member

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    Yes, I checked before I sent the query (and again recently, just to be sure). P&E says "AAR $ an agent with the _____ agency"

    I know he's legit. I'm more concerned that he's too busy. I'm bothered that he doesn't respond to most of my e-mails, and that he misses the deadlines he sets for contacting me again.

    I will call, just wanted some opinions.
  13. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick New Member

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    Most everyone has trouble communicating now and again. It's unprofessional, it's really frustrating on the other side, but it happens. People take on too much work, their parents get sick, whatever. My advice: 1) have patience. 2) Get the communication ball rolling. 3) Don't get upset, but be assertive.

    I wouldn't drop ship so early, but have a conversation with your agent and see WHY they didn't respond. They could get defensive and tense when you ask them this, but a lot of people get that way when they drop the ball on something. They feel guilty, and instead of apologizing they get defensive. I don't really know why, but a lot of people do this.

    Stay calm, be empathetic, but also say something like, "I need communication; what's the best way to contact you if and when this happens again." It's generally a bad idea to say "Don't ever do this again" because it could realistically happen again, so you need a plan of attack. It's not a red flag if it keeps happening again, it's a red flag if they show no hope of improving.

    Too many people DEMAND they are treated a certain way, and will get upset if they are not. I'm not saying you should always be patient, forgiving, and empathetic instead of upset. I am saying there is a fine line between when to be patient and when to be upset, and people often choose to be upset. Is it going to be more work finding a new agent, or working with this agent? It sounds like working with this agent will be easier in the long run, once you start communicating again.
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Supporter Contributor

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    yes... all of that!
  15. NotMyRealName
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    NotMyRealName New Member

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    See, I was right to question the situation.

    Today I finally got a response. Not interested, find another agent.
  16. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick New Member

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    Bummer. Well now you'll be able to find one worth your time.
  17. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma New Member Contributor

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    Sorry to hear that.
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Supporter Contributor

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    that 'not interested' puzzles me...

    didn't you have a signed agreement from him to rep your book, since he was already shopping your book around?... did he give you any reason why he was cancelling your representation agreement?
  19. NotMyRealName
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    NotMyRealName New Member

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    The reason given was that it just wasn't "doing it" for him.

    But I suspect, given the circumstances he never read it.

    I think he's just been too busy, and realising he'd dropped the ball with me several times on this one already figured he'd just let it go. There may have been personal issues involved as well, but that is pure speculation.

    Ultimately, it doesn't matter. I was considering leaving anyhow because of the terrible service there. The lack of response to my e-mails and failure to provide a sub-list when I requested it should have all been clues, but I had stars in my eyes so I didn't look closely enough.

    Ah well, lesson learned.
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