How Do You Know It’s Time to Leave Your Literary Agent?
Leaving your agent is one of the hardest, most important decisions you might ever make in your author career. I know, because I made that decision last year. Here are 3 things to consider before you leave your literary agent.
So, if you’ve been following me for the past year, you’d know by now that I signed with a literary agency in August 2020, and parted ways with them a little over a year later, in September 2021. It was not an easy decision to make, and I mulled over it for months–but ultimately, I knew I wasn’t excited, eager, or even positive about the prospect of starting my author career with them by my side.
Whether you’re happy with your current situation or not, here are 3 questions you should ask yourself before you leave your literary agent.
1) Do I feel respected, cherished, and encouraged?
Your literary agent should make you feel all three. They must respect you as a person, cherish you as a client, and encourage you as an author. They need to treat you as well as they treat their other clients (this is especially important for diverse or marginalized authors). And, of course, you need to feel good about your relationship with them.
If you dread sending emails to them because you know their response will make you feel like shit… it’s time to leave your literary agent. I wish I’d known sooner that this is not normal.
2) Does their editorial vision align with mine?
Your agent could love the book they signed you for but not like your next work. That’s what happened with me. The thing is, even if this happens, it’s okay–it’s not a deal-breaker. What matters is your agent’s editorial vision. Does it match yours? Would you be comfortable making the changes they’ve requested of you? And if you’re not, how do they feel about that? What shall be done about that manuscript?
These are tough questions to consider, but please remember: your book is yours, first and foremost. It will always require revisions and edits, but if your manuscript stops feeling like your beautiful book baby, it’s not your vision anymore.
3) Is my agent professional when it comes to deadlines, edits, and discussions?
This is likely the most important one to consider. If your agent doesn’t meet deadlines they themselves set once or twice, that’s reasonable. Everyone’s having a hard time lately. But if they keep missing deadlines, making excuses, and being rude and defensive instead of professional when you send a kind, gentle nudge checking in? That is not okay. Especially if they finally send back your manuscript with only a handful of comments and a half-hearted, one-page edit letter expressing their dislike.
To conclude: leaving your literary agents is not fun. I’ve been back in the query trenches for over six months now, and there are days when being unagented again feels like the worst thing in the world. But staying would have been much, much worse. I know I’ll find a new literary agent soon–it’s not about if, it’s about when–and when I do, I’ll be so glad I left.
Have you ever parted ways with an agent? How has that changed you or your writing? Comment below.
PS: Need help with your query package or manuscript? Click here!
Love hard & dream big,
Desi. Dreamer. Author. Reader. In that order.