Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Firing Your Agent (Part 6 of 6)

If you decide to fire your agent, write a neutral, matter-of-fact letter to include statements such as:

• I wish you to stop making submissions of my work.

• For a period of sixty days, you may continue to represent me on any submissions that are still active.

• Please send me a list of all editors who have rejected any of my unsold work or are still considering any of my work.

• Please inform me of any offers or rejections that come as a result of these submissions.

If your agent has any unsold manuscripts, send instructions to delete, destroy, or return them. After they end the business relationship, writers need to realize that for already published work the agent will continue to receive royalties on their behalf and to forward statements. If they are representing work for you at the time you dissolve the relationship, it's still their project to sell—or they may opt not to do so.

Even years after the termination of my first agent contract, I still receive royalties on four books he represented. That means he still receives 15 percent of those royalties. That's how the book business operates.

Some writers don't seem to understand that the letter of termination only starts the process. Until the agreed-upon thirty or sixty days have expired, writers don't have the legal right to sign with a new agent or submit their work to an editor until the termination of that prior relationship.

A woman called me who had fired her agent that morning with a registered letter. In the same mail, she queried an agent about repping her. It shocked her to hear that her letter to the prospective agent was both illegal and unethical. She was still under contract until the first one expired. Some agents write that fact into the contract.

When we fire an agent, we're taking a major career step. I urge writers to get a lot of emotional support from their friends first.

If there are any mistakes and failures in this relationship,
perhaps signing the contract was a more serious error than getting out of it.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting your series on agents, Cec. I've learned a lot that will be extremely useful if/when I need to contract with an agent.

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