It’s Just Business Tuesday

August 26, 2008 | Karin's Blog | 5 comments

And I lost my Q&A for today! So I’m improvising, adapting and overcoming.

There has been some discussion recently of the proper etiquette of firing/letting go/parting ways with an agent. So, here’s my take, and always remember this blog is Karin’s POV only, yours and others may very well be much different, and that’s cool.

My quick answer is: If you are not happy, end the relationship. Period. But most authors will not make a jump without an agent waiting in the wings. For me personally that would not matter. If I was not happy, the relationship would be over. Why stay?

But I think I am in the minority on this, because most authors I know would never be without an agent. So what does an author do? Why, go agent shopping of course!

How do you do this? Well, you do your homework and narrow down your choices. You talk to the agent’s authors, you face to face intro yourself to the agent if you have the opportunity. Shy? Have a friend introduce you. But you must get a feel for this agent you are courting.

Some say it’s behaving badly if an author looks for another agent while still contractually bound to their current agent. I had to scratch my head when I heard this. Here’s how I see it: If I’m in a job that just isn’t cutting it for me, do I say to my boss, “Hey, look, I’m not happy here, I’m going to look for another job, but don’t fire me because of it, coz, yanno, if I can’t find another job, I don’t want you to have any hard feelings or anything knowing I was looking for another job.” Now, if you tell your agent you’re looking for another agent, how do you think that is going to go over? If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say, “Not good.” Is it being deceitful? To me? No, it’s just business: you looking for another job when you are not happy in your current one. The leaving on good terms is another thing. I believe when the time to make the break comes, be honest and professional about it, and for the most part your’re answered with like behavior. But unfortunately it doesn’t always happen, because even though the other side is always shouting from the rooftops, “It’s just business,” they get their feeling hurt when they get dumped just like an author does when she gets dumped. Can’t help it, we are emotional beings. Rejection stings no matter which side of the fence you’re on.

If your current agent isn’t getting the job done, should you have a conversation about it? I would say, yes, if what is wrong is fixable. Sometimes, like so many relationships, it’s just not there anymore for whatever reason. Maybe you just don’t want a beta agent anymore. Can a conversation change a person’s basic nature? No. And personally, I think if you do have the conversation regarding what isn’t fixable, many authors are quilted or bullied into staying in the relationship. I mean how many times do chicks stay with a guy they have lost interest in because they feel bad or are made to feel if they do they’ll be sorry? It’s the same thing. And don’t think for one minute it doesn’t happen. It does. All of the time. It comes back to the human factor. There are unprofessional agents just as there are unprofessional authors. The pendulum swings both ways. And folks, sometimes good intentions on either side get really effed up. Again it comes back to emotions being involved and then for some all sense of professionalism evaporates. It happens.

It’s like I tell my kids with regard to their relationships: if you’ve lost the loving feeling, as nicely as the other will allow you to, make the break and move on (because we all know soon to be ex’s can get rather emotional). But make a clean, honest break, and if the other person loses control? Maintain your composure, stick to your guns and keep walking. A slow saw hurts everyone longer then necessary, a nice clean chop hurts for a sec then you get on with the business at hand.

So, while some agents think you should sit down and have a kumbaya moment, my feelings are: if your mind is made up and nothing will change it then move on, regardless of whether you have another agent or not. But if you just can’t bring yourself to not having an agent net, always make the break with your old agent before you sign with a new one.

So that’s all I have to say on the matter.

I’m guest blogging over at Chasing Heroes today. C’mon by and say howdy.



  1. J. Carson Black

    Two words, Karin. Common sense. It really comes down to that. You nailed it. I think it’s a good idea for any author to keep that mantra at the forefront of her mind: “It’s just business.”

  2. Holly D

    It’s great that you remind us it is a business. I think that is sometimes hard to remember, especially for those of us unpublished. You’ve poured your heart and soul in to your book and it can be emotional.

    As always, thanks for the insider’s tips.

  3. Edie

    Karin, everything you said makes sense. Like you said, It’s just business.

  4. Karin

    Jake, I am amazed by the lack of common sense in this biz. But it’s really refreshing to come across those who have it in spades.

    Holly, even multi pubbed authors still get emotional about their work, it’s human. But once the emotion has cleared then we all have to remember this is Just Business and respond in a business fashion. Easier said then done.

    Edie, it’s just biz as usual for me. 😉

  5. LaDonna

    Karin, you give us the unvarnished view, and I always appreciate it. Jake took the words right outta my mouth. 😆 Common sense. One of the best phrases in the English language.

    Thanks for the view!

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