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Good Agents Won’t Judge Your Bad Agent Experience

Having an experience with a bad, meaning unscrupulous, agent, can be completely debilitating for an author. I get it, you have searched long and hard and the minute you finally find the agent who is going to take your career to the next level you find out, probably too late, that the agent was never really working to take your career to the next level.

This comment from a reader broke my heart because I know that any author who has ever dealt with an unscrupulous agent has felt all of these things and more.

I was approached by an agent after I self published my first book. I was ecstatic, and had no grasp of the relationship. I didn’t understand “no agent is better than the wrong agent” – and what’s actually happened is I’ve been “gaslit” – (term suggested to me by another agent).  I’ve terminated the contract but it’s hell. I can’t go into specifics as it’s ongoing.

There is nowhere to complain to, we don’t have a voice, there’s a serious power imbalance and we are too often manipulated and exploited. There is no way to speak out on social media as the ramifications would be huge. There is nowhere to go with this to warn other authors.

As a result I don’t feel I have a way forward with my writing career in this genre because he is so appallingly duplicitous verbally. Who is going to pick up a MS by an author that an agent has bad-mouthed?!

While I can’t tell you it will be easy to trust another agent again, or even get back out there into the query trenches, what I can tell you is that no agent will judge you based on what someone else did.

Authors are often lead to believe that all agents talk and we will all believe the unscrupulous over what authors tell us, but that is patently untrue. In fact, our closest business partners are authors and believe it or not, we are often likely to believe them before we will believe the word of an agent we don’t usually know nearly as well.

So of all the feelings you’re feeling, don’t get sucked into the one that tells you no agent will ever take you on. Write another terrific book and do the work and good things will happen.


Category: Blog



  1. I sympathize with the author quoted and welcome your advice.

    Authors HAVE spoken out publicly against bad agents, several recently, including complaining to the AAR, if the bad agent is a member. And several authors have rightly refused to abandon books an agent tried to sabotage.

    One of the benefits of the ‘Me Too’ movement is that it shows public protest against a long-tolerated abuse can reach a critical mass and change public opinion dramatically. The court of public opinion is a highly imperfect forum but it can bring justice at times.

  2. Thank you so much for this. Was overwhelmed to see this just now. It’s very kind of you to take the time to reply – and I really appreciate your words. Thanks again.

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