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have an agent, want a new one . . . protocol?

Posted: April 16th, 2013, 10:10 pm
by telos
First of all, this is a terrific forum. Thanks to Nathan and all contributors!

I presently have a good, reputable agent in NYC, but I accepted representation quickly -- and am now finding that there may be another agent who is a better fit. How should I begin exploratory conversations with the potential new agent while I am still represented?

With the current agent I have extensively revised the manuscript, but it has not yet been shopped to publishers. My current representation is not under contract but in the "handshake" model used by older agencies -- and includes an official letter/offer of representation. Official terms (standard %) are written into the publishing contract if the manuscript is sold.

Any and all advice welcome . . .


Re: have an agent, want a new one . . . protocol?

Posted: April 25th, 2013, 1:55 am
by HillaryJ
That's a tough situation, Telos. Has the second agent made a formal offer of representation? It sounds like your current agent has put a lot of work into helping you to improve your manuscript, while there may not be a clear legal question with taking the manuscript elsewhere, there's certainly an ethical dilemma. Is the second agent aware that you are represented and that your agent has been working on this manuscript with you?

Re: have an agent, want a new one . . . protocol?

Posted: April 25th, 2013, 9:48 am
by telos
Hi HillaryJ -- Thanks for your response. Agreed on the ethical dilemma. Here's what I know at the moment: The 2nd agent is having a look at my manuscript and is aware that I'm represented/have worked through a revision. No offer yet from 2nd agent. A couple of other factors: I'm concerned about a legal matter that my current agency was involved in, and the lack of recent sales by the current agency. Also, as I've revised the manuscript, I've been thinking about cross-genre appeal, and I'm not getting much support for that approach.

So in summary I like my current agent, though I am sketchy on the agency. The 2nd agent has been in my top two since I started seeking representation.

Thanks again--

Re: have an agent, want a new one . . . protocol?

Posted: May 1st, 2013, 1:09 pm
by Krista G.
Telos, I would definitely tread lightly. I think it's generally considered bad form to query or even contact other agents until you've officially split from your current one, and I'd be leery of working with an agent who was willing to deal with you under the table.

Since the legal matters/lack of sales have rattled you, why not just make a clean split from your current agent and seek a new one? There just doesn't seem to be a lot to gain from staying in this business partnership. I know your agent's spent a lot of time with you on this revision, but as heartless as it sounds, you can't make business decisions out of a sense of obligation.

Of course, the best first step would probably be to sit down and have an honest conversation with your current agent. Tell him/her about your concerns, find out what his/her plan is for submitting your book, and figure out if your vision matches up with his/hers. If it does (and if the agent has a reasonable explanation for the legal matters), then you're back on track. But if not, it might be time to move on.

Good luck with this. It's a sticky situation to be in.