Last year an agent approached me and suggested that I turn my blog into a book. Together we put together a proposal and they took it to several publishers.
But no one bit, and since then they have pretty much stopped contacting me or even responding to emails. I suggested rewriting the proposal, and they said, no it will go to some other publishers. Since then, I have heard nothing.
Now even I have realised that this isn't a partnership that's going to go anywhere. And what I want to do now is to take the book to smaller publishers myself. But they won't answer my emails and tell me who it's already submitted to. The last I heard was in October.
So what on earth do I do now? I don't want to write the proposal off - the blog represents literally years of work. And I've been left waiting around for six months now. *weeps*
did you sign a contract with this agency? If not, you are footloose and fancy free to take it where it you want and forget about them. If you did, they are obliged to keep to the terms of the contract so it would be worth having a close look at them. You may have to give them written notice of termination; you may not.
Either way, it doesn't sound as though they're helping your career or your development as a writer, in which case they probably aren't the right agency for you.
But that is really frustrating that you don't even know who they've submitted it to. This is very unprofessional and leaves you in a tricky situation. have you tried phoning them and speaking directly to the agent? The Society of Authors might be able to advise
Edited by Freebird at 16:43:00 on 08 January 2015
No, I didn't sign any contract at all, which is a relief in many ways.
But I'm glad you think it's unprofessional, I have been starting to wonder if this was just the way things worked, and it was me being unreasonable! I have tried ringing him at other points and he clearly avoids me, (And I have not exactly bombarded him either...). My suspicion is that he has had some kind of personal crisis, and isn't coping, as he was absolutely delightful for the first three months.
And yes, thanks for the Society of Authors thought, that's a good one.
Edited by OtterOtter at 16:57:00 on 08 January 2015
If you can't find out who he's subbed to, you can still sub it yourself and if they realise that they've had the same sub twice, they will sit up and take notice! If you wanted to, you could explain that you have had some dealings with an agent and apologise if they've already received the sub, but I think it might be better just to be bold and sell it with all your heart. The worst they can do is say no.
Or you could try and get another agent, but I guess they might be a bit wary of taking it on if they don't know who's already seen it. In which case, doing it yourself is probably the way to go. You're the one with the most passion and knowledge about your work!
Edited by Freebird at 13:31:00 on 09 January 2015
Yes, that's very unprofessional, as well as horribly frustrating for you. Some agents are better than others at fessing up when things haven't gone well, but if they're asked a straight question they must give a straight answer. Even if the answer is, "It's on the desk of eight publishers and all their acquisitions meetings are next week..." Even the decent agents tend to be merely reactive: they'll be in touch when there's something to say, and an awful lot of publishing takes ages to say anything... And an agent should always, always answer a direct question from a client.
The SoA will advise, but as it seems to me:
Even if you haven't signed a contract which gives details, you do have a contract with them because contracts don't have to be written down to exist. They are representing your book to publishers, and they are obliged to give you the information that you want about how they've done that.
If it were me, I'd telephone them, and repeat that you'd like to have a full picture of what's happened with your proposal, now. Then, if they don't respond, I would write a formal email - probably backed up with a posted letter - saying that you would like to end your agreement for them to represent the book, and to send you a list of where it's been already.
Very good luck!
I've just seen this thread.
I've had no personal dealings with literary agents, but I deal with IT contracting agencies all the time and some of the legalities/working practices must overlap to a degree. In my case, agencies deal with my CV, which they send of to prospective clients. There is a general rule that if a prospective client receives the same CV from more than one source (e.g. from an agency and from me directly, or from 2 different agencies) they will usually react by binning both of them and moving on to the next candidate. This is because they don't want to get into a legal argument about who they received the CV from, and whether they therefore have to hire the person through agency X or agency Y.
I imagine there might be a similar consideration that goes on in the literary world, since we are talking about a commercial situation where an agency stands to lose money if the publisher receives a manuscript/proposal directly from the writer after having previously received it via the agent. But maybe publishers are a little more hard-nosed about this situation, as they, too, stand to make money if the proposal is a good one.