Seeking New Representation

After you have fired your agent (for not following through, etc), how do you address your previous representation in your query? If your work has not been submitted to publishers because agent not-following-through never even got you a first set of revision notes?

Do you say you’re seeking new representation? Does that send up a red flag or make you stand out in the crowd?

Or, do you just query like you’re any other writer and pray?

I think it’s worth mentioning that you were previously represented, but parted ways before the project was ever submitted. Why? I think mentioning previous representation shows agents that there has been some interest in your project, that a colleague already showed interest in it, and it makes you stand out from every other query because you’re rare and different. And let’s face it, the goal of a query is definitely to stand out from the crowd. Explaining that it’s before the project went on submission shows them that you aren’t trying to shop around something that has already been shopped.

Jessica

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9 comments

  1. Great question, and an interesting response. It's good to know that a negative situation like this has positive value. All the best to the person asking in his or her efforts to get a new agent. I hope the next one works out better for you.

  2. I was once in a situation of having been fired by my agent– something that is probably more common than writers would like to admit.

    I was up front about it in my query. It made the agent search dicey, but it's best to be honest. I got a new (and much better) agent anyway.

  3. Suppose the agent made a few but not an exhaustive number of submissions? How many would be too many? Would the circumstances of the agent/author breakup matter (e.g., the agent became ill, decided to change careers, or something other than loss of confidence in the work)?

    Thanks!

  4. Surprising response, but it makes total sense. What about a previous agent for a different project? Is there any way to make that a positive thing in a query? I never did, just sought new representation.

  5. I secured an agent a few years ago – she submitted my MS to a number of publishers, who despite their positive views on the material, didn't want to publish it for a variety of reasons.

    After a couple of years of no further action from the agent, I left her and got another. During a meeting at their office I (reluctantly!) told them about the previous agent and submissions to publishers – they were very grateful that I came clean and told me it was the right thing to do AND they still offered to represent me, despite this.

    With their help and advice, my book is now being published later this year. Yay!

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