But what happens if the relationship doesn’t meet your expectations? We writers are kind of a paranoid breed. We don’t like to rock the boat, cause any waves, or be the “Diva” client that agents talk about at the bar on Friday night. Still, there is a relationship there that needs to work. A give and take that, as a writer, you deserve.
And there are times when you just have to be strong enough to say when and admit that it’s not working out. I can tell you, that’s one of the harder thing to do. We spend weeks, months, sometimes even years to find that one agent who says, “I want to rep you.” They want you! Wow! Why in the world would you decide to say, “It’s not working” and voluntarily go back out into the scary world of the query?
Ultimately, it’s because your career matters and if you aren’t in charge of it, who is? Succeeding sometimes involves hard choices, like knowing when to let go. But along that same line, make sure what you think you need and what you think you aren’t getting are valid.
A LOT of books simply don’t sell. If you are giving up on your agent after two months because they failed to sell your debut novel about jackalopes who love anteaters (Which you think is brilliant and needs to be made into a major motion picture starring Johnny Depp AS the hunky jackalope,) well you might want to take a hard look your expectations. (And plot, but really who am I kidding, Johnny Depp could make even a jackalope look sexy. Hell, I'd go see it!)
If on the other hand, there are red flag communication issues, or enthusiasm for your subsequent books is lacking, or you need more guidance than the agent had time to give, then those are valid concerns that need to be discussed. And you should discuss them before you decide to leave your agent. Sometimes a simple conversation can get you both on the same page. Sometimes it can’t.
But if you do end up parting ways, you can do so in good conscience because you were professional and courteous and did not resort to tantrums and name-calling. (Believe it or not, agents talk to each other. A lot. Shooting yourself in the foot by bad mouthing all over the internet is never a good thing. Your goal is to find another agent who is a better fit, and you can bet if they see your name associated with rants about what a horrible person so and so was, they’ll think twice about working with you.)
Changing agents is just one of those things. It sometimes happens. If it happens to you, do it with dignity and respect. That way when your potential new agent asks why you parted ways with your old agent, you can give them an honest answer, feel good about it, and hopefully land the one who will take you to the stars! (Or even better, bestsellerdom!)
And as a side note on querying, remember to use something fresh and new. Don't try to sell the novel that got you your agent the first time around unless it never made it out of the gate and editors never saw it. You should have at least one (or maybe even five) books that are ready, so pick the one you think has the most potential, polish that query, and send your darling out into the world. Oh, and its okay to mention you had an agent and that you are now looking for new representation. If a new agent is interested, they will ask questions, and that is when the above comes into play. Good luck!