This is a story all about how, I signed with an agent and she let me down…
Now that I have that song stuck in your head, I’ve decided to go ahead and explain the most frustrating incident that has happened in my writing career. I’ve been really quiet and reluctant to speak about it, mostly because I don’t want to be *that person*, but at the same time, I think others should know what I had to go through so that they don’t have to go through it too.
Firstly, to make this perfectly, I am not saying that agents are not needed. I feel like they are, especially in this market. It is beneficial to have someone there who is cheering you on, supporting your work and trying to sell your manuscripts. I think of them like a bra. You don’t *have* to wear one, but your girls are nice and supported and perky when you do!
My little journey started about a year ago when I signed with a new agent working for a not-new-at-all, well-known agency. To protect her identity I’ll call her Sam since I’m not one for bashing people over the internet. But I will bash what happened to me because of poorly-made decisions. Sam allegedly signed more than a handful of clients in her first couple of months of being an agent. This strain immediately made itself known through one-word emails and general non-responsiveness. It got to the point where The Boss had to send an email to all of her clients “setting things straight” so that we all didn’t freak out at one time that nothing was happening as far as our work was going.
Fast forward a half a year. I was told my manuscript was submitted to multiple publishers. After emailing a half dozen times and asking which ones, I finally get a list. Another manuscript was submitted to my editor at Harlequin, and after two months of no answers, I asked Sam what was going on. She told me that the editor told her she was reading it now and would get back to me by the weekend. Another three weeks passes by. Sam is not answering my emails, so I email the editor directly and tell her that there’s been a bit of a communication issue between my agent and I, and that I would like to check up on the manuscript.
The editor tells me she never received a manuscript, nor did she ever speak with my agent.
Because I’ve now not heard from Sam in nearly two months, I emailed The Boss and explained the whole situation to him, provided him with dates of emails, supposed correspondences with editors, her replies, their replies. The Boss tells me that he’ll contact Sam and get to the bottom of what is going on.
Three weeks pass by. I email him once or twice in these three weeks. He basically told me he couldn’t reach her and would keep trying.
That’s when I decided, after being miserable about the whole situation and realizing what had to happen, that I had to leave the agency. Now, let me tell you — this is the second time I’ve had to fire an agent. The first one was because he was making racist, bigoted comments over twitter, and I don’t want someone like that representing me. And now, I have to fire another agent because she seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth, and The Boss doesn’t seem to care. He never offered the option to even switch under his representation instead. He just plain didn’t care.
After I emailed him about leaving the company, he made excuses for Sam, and said he still couldn’t get in contact with her. Well, that’s great. You have fun with that. Meanwhile, after RWA and after telling my story over and over again, The Boss apparently sent another email to all of Sam’s clients saying that he’s now representing them, and that Sam has gone on leave.
For some time after this, I didn’t feel like writing anymore. I felt (and still do feel) betrayed, that someone should say that they like my work so much that she wants to represent it, then ended up lying to me, abandoning me, and ultimately set me and my career back.
So, now I’m back on the agent hunt. I feel more confident about it, despite my situation, because I feel like I have more to prove now than I did before. I’ve been shown the underbelly of the writing world, and I now know what to look out for and avoid. I can do this; I sold my own things before, and if I have to again, then I guess that’s the game plan.
But for all of you still on the agent hunt, I’d be careful. I wanted to show other writers that you can’t let behavior like this get in your way. If your agent is not doing anything for you, then why stick with them? There are plenty of other, great agents out there that actually want to do their jobs, help you, and represent your work to the best of their abilities. I met some of them at RWA. Hell, they are probably the ones who reject us, because you know what? I rather an agent who knows what she wants, versus one who is just signing anyone and anything in search for a pretty penny.
Here’s hoping one of those agents comes my way, and comes your way. And thank you to the authors, agents and editors who have helped me through this situation.