I’m always hoping that my clients and I are working on a career-long relationship, and sign people with that in mind.
But like any relationship, it’s always better to talk about your concerns early before small things turn into big issues. It’s possible that what you’re unhappy with is something fixable with just a little more communication.
But if, for whatever reason, you decide it’s time to seek new representation, you should always terminate your previous agreement before seeking out a new one.
It’s not fair to your current agent to shop for new representation while they’re still doing work for you – and, out of respect for my colleagues, I would not request someone who was searching while still under an agency agreement with someone else.
To end the author-agent relationship, take another look at your Author-Agency Agreement for the termination terms. Usually, either party just has to write and send a letter ending the agreement.
Once you part ways, an agent will still receive commission on any contracts they negotiated under your agreement. They may also have a time limit in their agreement to wrap up any submissions that are already out there.
If you’re parting on good terms and the issue is more that your career goals/genres have changed, you can also ask your previous agent if they have anybody they would recommend for their new career direction. (If you’re parting on bad terms, I would skip this!)
There’s no way to put everything an agent does or every potential situation you might encounter in 8 blog posts, but I think that covers a pretty good overview of what it’s like to work with an agent, the process of finding representation, how you know things are working, and what to do if things are not.
Above all though, you always want to be professional. The industry is small and the truth is – it doesn’t matter how wonderful your work is if people don’t want to work with you!
Posts in this series:
Working with An Agent: What does an agent do?
Working with An Agent: Step 1 - Writing your query letter
Working with An Agent: Step 2 - Researching agents and submitting
Working with An Agent: Step 3 - Getting the call
Working with An Agent: Step 4 - Responding to an offer
Working with An Agent: Step 5 - Your author-agency agreement
Working with An Agent: Step 6 - After your sign
Working with An Agent: Step 7 - If you decide it's time to part ways...