Q01: The Split

(This question is part of a larger subseries called Perpetual WIPs: Mid-Career Authors. For the remaining questions, see here.)

How did you come to part ways with your last agent?

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I think there were two things that ended that business relationship. First, I continually felt like both the books I wanted to write, and the speed at which I wanted to put them into the world, weren’t things my previous agent was particularly into. I was frustrated with that aspect quite a bit. But the second thing was that I no longer felt supported in a long-term career by the agency as a whole. The combination of feeling stuck, like we weren’t clicking on a creative/career planning level, and the lack of support from the agency led to my decision to leave. Still, I am deeply appreciative of the books that agent and I put out in the world together and I am so grateful that that agent shepherded me along to a point in my career that I did know what I wanted, enough to articulate it and make a tough, but necessary, business decision.

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My first agent, while fantastic, is an agent-author hybrid, and retired from agenting to pursue writing full-time. So it wasn’t by choice, but I certainly understood.

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  I felt like my previous agent did not want me to change or try to grow or push myself in terms of my writing. My agent did not want to rock the boat with my publishing house or for me to be thought of as a “diva,” and encouraged me to maintain the status quo. Philosophically, I did not agree with this approach as I am constantly trying to push and better myself in all walks of life, and wanted opportunities to move beyond my status quo.

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It was really a whole combination of things that were set in the context of my already having my new few years planned out with contracts and self-publishing, so when my agent switched agencies and I didn’t want to follow (I didn’t feel the agency had a strong enough network in my category), I initiated a split and then stayed agent-free for a few years so I could focus on my self-publishing career and contracted books.

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With my first agent, I initiated the split due to creative differences.

My second agent chose to leave the profession to pursue another career.

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My instinct is to answer this question gently by saying that we parted ways amicably, but the truth is that I fired my agent after a four-year partnership. In that time I began to feel that their priorities leaned strongly in favor of maintaining their relationship with editors over advocating for my career. It took me a while to gather the courage to voice my grievances but when I did they were receptive. Ultimately, though, they continued to advocate more for my editors than they did for me and I fired them. Now, I have the experience and distance to know that I left them at least a year and one book too late, and my career certainly suffered for it.

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My agent retired from agenting to focus on another career. This was hard, because we had a great relationship and I loved working with her.

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I had a few problems with my former agency, like what I felt was an extremely uninterested subrights department, and so it came to a point where I felt my career needed more than I could get at that agency. My last agent and I are still good friends, though, and continue to work together on projects they sold for me.

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My agent and I parted ways by my request. It was a thing I’d thought about for a long time before I made any actions toward it.

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I parted ways with my last agent because she was sloppy and made promises to a toxic editor of mine without discussing it with me first. She told the editor I was going to do a “thing” that I didn’t want to do based on cultural reasons, thus placating the toxic editor.

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I parted ways with my agent when it became clear that we weren’t really suited for one another. We have different priorities and communication styles and I wanted new things out of my career. It was an amicable split.

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