On Losing My Agent and Diving Back into Querying
Some of you may have read my post about how I found my agent. It brimmed with excitement and satisfaction, every word validating the hundred-plus rejections and years of effort.
Well, three months after signing, my agent left the business amid a mass of Twitter drama and all her clients were dropped, including me. That was February, 2o22.
There were red flags from the beginning, but I ignored them. I'd found an agent, and she had to be the one. She had to! So when three months passed without a single edit or plan of action or even an individualized email, and when my request for updates was met with "my psyche isn't in the right place to provide updates," I let it go and told myself it would all be okay. An agent in hand was better than none, right?
In January I began to wonder if I'd made a real mistake. I hadn't received a signed contract, though I'd been signed in early November. Many of the nine clients who'd been signed along with me hadn't received one either. Similarly, none of us had received the edits that we'd expected back in November or December. I began asking around, and writer friends agreed that I had cause to be concerned.
When we raised our concerns to our agent, she became defensive and said she would start editing soon, she just needed more time. Someone escalated to her manager, the head of the agency, and our agent was immediately put on hiatus and shortly thereafter left the business. All of us were dropped with one short email as explanation.
I was stunned. Though I'd been considering leaving her, part of me had still hoped that she would turn out to be an incredible agent, get me a massive book deal, and we'd live happily ever after. It took weeks to shake off the feeling of betrayal and loss. Even now, months later, I find myself mentally reviewing our Twitter DMs and wishing I'd spoken up sooner, or done something differently. What I could have said or done, I have no idea.
There is a silver lining to this story. When I signed with this agent in November, 2021, I was desperate. I wanted to be finished with querying and I would take anyone--literally anyone--if it meant moving forward in my publishing career. That was not a healthy mindset.
Thanks to all of this drama, I am not that person anymore. I am querying a new book, and there is a part of me who is on her knees begging the universe for a new agent, but when that agent appears, I won't sign up with my eyes closed. I'll ask the questions I didn't ask before: If we plan on doing edits, how will you let me know if you're running behind schedule? Are you comfortable with bi-weekly updates? How quickly will you reply to my emails? Can I send other manuscripts to you right away? If I'm feeling uncomfortable about anything, can we set up a call and talk it out?
And so much more.
So here's my message to all you querying writers: If it feels like it'll never end, and you're ready to sign up with the first agent who will have you--I see you. I was you. But when your time comes, and it will come, ask the hard questions. Check with your gut and make sure everything feels right. Speak up or walk away if something makes you nervous or uncomfortable. Our agent-author relationship should be even and balanced, and it's up to us to make sure it is.
Now I've got to go send out a few more queries. Onward!