When to Consider Ending the Author-Agent Partnership

If your traditionally published book attains bestselling status, other agents will start contacting you. Prestigious agents from large firms may try to lure you away from your current agent. If your agent is doing a good job for you, think carefully before jumping ship for another agency. Remember, your agent believed in you and recognized your potential long before you achieved success - and she helped you become a published author.

However, there may be circumstances under which the partnership with your agent is no longer working and you may want to consider ending the relationship. Some of those legitimate reasons may be:

  • When there is poor communication. If your agent does not stay in regular contact with you or if she does not return your calls or emails, she may be overwhelmed with too many clients and unable to devote the time needed to further your career. You have a right to receive a response from your agent in a timely manner. If communication has broken down, it may be time to seek alternate representation.
  • When an agent lacks integrity. If she cannot explain her efforts to sell your work, if you catch her in a lie, if you suspect she participates in unethical practices and you no longer trust your agent, it is time to move on.
  • When the agent is not productive. If you do not agree with her procedures - for instance, if she does not share the responses she receives from publishers, if she only pitches to one editor at a time and waits four months for a response, or has her assistant discuss progress reports with you instead of doing it herself - then you must find an agent whose methodology is more conducive to your needs.
  • When the agent is not enthusiastic about your book. You need an agent who is fired up and passionate about your work. Someone who believes in your writing career and will diligently pitch your book idea until it is sold. If your agent is not enthusiastic about your project, you need to find another agent who is.

Make a Graceful Exit

If you have done your best to attempt to resolve the issues with your agent - you have discussed it and tried to find a satisfactory remedy to the situation - and still the problems persist, you will need to formally end the business arrangement. It is best to exit the relationship with respect and professionalism. You do not want to become known as a difficult author who jumps from agent to agent.

If your book has already been sold, your agent will still be entitled to receive her earned commissions and represent the subsidiary rights, so you do not want to burn bridges. Move on with dignity and grace. Notify your agent of your decision by telephone (or in person, when possible) and then follow up with a certified letter confirming the new terms.