7 Keys to Changing Agents

It is mid-July and that means one thing: summer writers' conferences are in full bloom. In addition to networking, refining craft, and reading their work, many writers hope to meet the literary agent of their dreams. At these conferences, you will also meet a good percentage of agented writers who want to change agents. 

On any given day, there might be 100 good reasons to change your agent. However, to do so is not a simple decision. Making the change requires careful consideration and a strategy. Otherwise, all you are doing is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. You'll have the same frustrating experience with the new agent because you did not take the time to define your needs, goals, and communication strategy. In today's post, I cover seven questions and four tips. 

The 7 Questions You Need to Answer Before Changing Your Agent

1. At the start of the relationship, what convinced you that this agent was the right agent for you?

2. Did you sign an agency agreement? Do you know the mechanism for termination or renewal? Did you have it reviewed by a publishing lawyer?

3. What projects did you submit to the agent? What books were sold? Also, what projects did you discuss?

4. From the time you hired the agent, what are your most recent accomplishments in regard to building your brand and platform? 

5. What are your publishing expectations and how do you convey these to the agent?

6. How does the agent work with clients? When you started working together, did you agree on communication style and frequency?

7. What is motivating you to make this change now? ​

Bonus Question

If you achieve your goal of retaining a new agent, how do you envision your writing career will be different in 6 months? #womenwriters

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Okay, I know. More than seven questions. But, I what you to achieve the success you deserve. Now, let's move on to the four coaching tips. 

4 Coaching Tips for Your Writing Career

1. Do Your Homework: ​It's a tough publishing world out there. Your agent might have the most amazing reputation for the breakout books of 10 years ago. Today, publishing business models continue to change. Ask what the agent has sold in the last 12 to 24 months. How do you fit into the agent's business strategy? Why is he or she taking you on as a client?  

2. Be Clear on Business Details: A literary agency provides its clients with expert representation in the publishing industry. It is a business relationship. Therefore, before you sign an agency agreement, you would be well served to have a publishing lawyer advocate for your interests. Have your agreement reviewed. It's your career.  

3. Work from a Plan: It is wonderful to have a great agent who is working hard to place your book with the right publisher. You can check GET AN AGENT off your list. With this goal accomplished, revise your writer's business plan accordingly. What's next on the list? If you do not have a plan, I'm curious why. 

4. Define Your Working Relationship: ​Agents say "no" to projects much more often than they say "yes." Once an agent says "yes," it means the world to you. For the agent, your book represents one more selling opportunity among others in the hopper. The agent has a much broader focus than your book alone. It takes time to trust when silence means the agent has the project in hand, no news. Or, silence means your forgotten.  A conversation about communication is the key to a successful relationship.

Key to Changing Agents

"Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."

-- Stephen King

Change my literary agent

​Please share your thoughts and any tips with this community. 

Melissa A. Rosati
 

Melissa A. Rosati, CPCC, is a career strategist to writers, independent scholars and academics. An award-winning publisher, Melissa has acquired nonfiction titles and led editorial teams for HarperCollins, Van Nostrand Reinhold and Routledge in New York, and served as editorial director for McGraw-Hill International based in London.

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