Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Burning Question

Today's question is a combination of a related concerns from two of our readers, anonymous in Minnesota and Marcella. They ask: Have you ever worked with an agent or editor you didn’t get along with? How did you handle it? How do you know when your agent should become your ex-agent?

6 comments:

anne frasier said...

wow, that's a tough one. i would need more information to really put together a decent reply.

i've certainly worked with editors i didn't get along with. my experience has been if that if you are in a position of power and ask for a new editor, they'll give you one. if your books aren't doing very well, they might dump you rather than cause problems within the house.

agents -- i'd probably need more info. what she/he is or isn't doing. i have a great agent, but i worry that since i've gone a different direction i'm now writing the kind of books he doesn't really handle.

one thing i know -- there are no black and white answers. :(

Helen Brenna said...

The agent side of it is a sticky question. It took me 1 1/2 years to sell after taking on my current agent, and the book she took me on for didn't sell first. To be honest, there were times I wondered if she and I weren't a good fit. The bottom line for me was in knowing she was getting my books read. And that's all I could ask. She can't MAKE anyone buy my books.

On the negotiating and career development side of things, I'm sure there's more to it, but I can't speak to that. Yet.

anne frasier said...

i wanted to add that burning questions can be answered by anybody -- even if you aren't one of the gals in the car. ;) hop in! what's the record for number of people in a VW bug?

Betina Krahn said...

I've had one or two editos over the years that disappointed me, i.e. didn't represent me well in-house and let my books and career flounder.

But I've only had one (briefly, thank heaven, and in the early days) who was bitchy on the phone and generally not nice to deal with. She was a replacement editor and left the house before I had to sell anything to her.

I have had one editor (minor project) who dropped duties, dodged phone calls, and generally behaved unprofessionally. My agent finally had to go over her head and shake some branches. Things got considerably better. But I don't think I'd ever go to her with another project.

As for agents. . . I think it's pretty clear when you need to think about new representation: when you offer several projects and talk about direction and just can't see eye-to-eye on things. The real problem is when you really like that person and you've had good luck with them in the past but now feel you're growing apart.

I always have trouble breaking up. The only time I really officially broke up with a someone in the early dating days, the guy couldn't tell what I was doing and ended up thinking I wanted more of a committment. He proposed!

Feel free to use that in a book, somebody. I don't think I could ever make it work in one of mine.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I've only had 2 agents in 23 years. The first one basically went out of the biz--treated me very well, actually gave up his right to claim commission on the books he'd represented for me. It was lucky for me that he initiated the separation because I probably would not have done it, at least not then, but I knew that he was not as aggressive as I needed at that point. He'd been in the biz a long time and was pretty "old school." I've been with my current agent ever since, and he's terrific. He represents some of the best writers in romance/women's fiction, and he's not allowed to retire. (Knocking on wood.)

As for editors, I've been lucky there too. I've worked with some good 'uns--definitely no duds--each one quite different from the others, and I've learned from all of them. I've always felt that they respected me for what I was able to do and only wanted to enhance my efforts. The editor I'm working with right now actually bought my first book. Moral of the story: editors and agents have their jobs to do. See that they do it. Let them do it. But in the end, it's your book, and everyone should know that. Oh, and burn no bridges.

anne frasier said...

i agree with betina about agents. my first agent quit her agency and i just stayed at the agency. the agent who replaced her didn't understand what i wrote and kept suggesting i write proposals for things i had no interest in. it didn't take long for me to realize she wasn't for me so before she became involved in any projects i left and started looking for a new agent.

i have heard of agents who don't return calls or emails. i wouldn't put up with something like that.