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Should you leave your literary agent?
Because I once had this question, too.
So, if you’ve been following me for the past couple of years, you’d know by now that I signed with a literary agent in August 2020 and parted ways with them a little over a year later, in September 2021. Then, in June 2022, I signed with my amazing now-agent, and it’s been a wonderful business relationship with her since. In fact, we sold my debut rom-com, MATCH ME IF YOU CAN, to Penguin Random House!
Leaving my former agents was not an easy decision to make, and I mulled over it for months—but ultimately, I knew with time that they weren’t the right fit for me or my author career.
If you’ve been wondering if your agent is the right fit for you, 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? What about future manuscripts?
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 been having a hard time since 2020. 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 was in the query trenches for 9 whole months after making my decision, and there were so many days when being unagented again felt like the worst thing in the world. I almost gave up so many times, too! But I know now that staying would have been much, much worse, because I wouldn’t have found the right agent—or publisher—for me if I hadn’t left.
Thank you for reading! Have you ever parted ways with an agent? How has that changed you or your writing? Hit ‘reply’ if I’m in your inbox, and comment below if you’re on the Substack website.
PS: If you need support with your full manuscript or query package, I have a few spots open for my editorial services. Click here for more info, rates, and testimonials.
Love hard & dream big,