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Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

As writers, our ultimate goal is to get our babies…errr..books published. The best way to achieve that is to first find that agent who loves your freckled faced kids as much as you do. Once that happens, and sometimes it can in a total whirlwind week of craziness, you feel a little invincible. Unstoppable. You’re one step closer to the dream and boy is it sweet.

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!
Lee Bross

Lee lives her happily ever after on the coast of Maine where she has written Tangled Webs, her historical YA debut, and fantasy YA books Fates and Chaos under pen name Lanie Bross. She also writes contemporary books for New Adult under the name L.E. Bross, debuting with Right Where You Are.

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  1. I wrote the longest comment, but this thing evidently didn't want me to post it >:(
    So anyway, to sum up: Great post, and now I want the Johnny Depp/jackalope movie.

  2. Thanks for this. An interesting perspective I hadn't thought of.

    Jackalopes! Ha! Remember the jackalope from America's Funniest Home Videos back in the day when Bob Saget hosted?

    Sometimes the process of getting the book finished is so consuming, you don't even want to think about the road bumps up ahead. The idea of getting an agent and then voluntarily leaving them is scary, but if the professional relationship has run its course, nothing more of value will come from it anyway. Better to part ways professionally, and with dignity and grace.

  3. 1) Johnny Depp would OWN that role.

    2) Lee Bross rules.

    That is all. :)

  4. Michelle, is it totally wrong that I can picture JD with the jackalope antlers and its making me a little hawt? LOL

  5. great balanced take on a tough topic.

    and YOU KNOW I love the jackalopes shout-out! If only jackalope-rendering didn't involve such... tragedy.

  6. P.S. scroll down for snuggling jackalopes:

  7. Great post! But, seriously, my 190k word, hunky jackalope novel was epic greatness. Honestly! ;)

  8. Lee - nope. The guy rocked blacked out teeth and made it sexy. Antlers? Nothing. ;)


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Item Reviewed: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Lee Bross