Trying to break into publishing the traditional way isn’t easy. I knew that before I stared. What I didn’t know was exactly how difficult my path was going to be. Not so long ago my literary agent and I parted ways. Without going into too much detail, I was the one who requested the split.
Sometimes we do what we believe is right and things still go wrong.
I’ve always been a hard worker. Tell me what you need and I’ll get right on it. Even when things turn to shit I’m the kind of person who keeps a clear head and takes charge, finding alternate ways to get things done. My time in the US Air Force only amplified those traits. That’s why my situation is so frustrating.
But I have to let it go. I can’t control everything. I can’t control what other people do, or don’t, do. All I can do is what I believe is right, even if that decision is one of the most difficult I’ve had to make.
When you get knocked down, get up and get right back at it again.
What really bothers me is you don’t see many authors talk about things like this. It’s like some dirty secret. A couple of days ago I posted something and took it down. Fear crept in. Would I burn bridges with other literary agents? Am I important enough for anyone to even care? Then I realized that I have nothing to hide. I did everything in my power to remedy the situation.
I decided to write this post because there have to be other writers/authors out there going through the same thing. Maybe they’re reluctant to part ways with their agent for fear they may never sign with another. Each of us has some idea of how we’d like to be treated, whether it’s by a literary agent or a stranger on the street. We know when we’re not being treated the way we’d like to be treated. If we think something is wrong, it probably is. I’m confident enough to trust my gut instincts. Sometimes separation it the best possible scenario.
For me, it was about communication. I wasn’t getting what I needed in the communication department, which, I believe, is the most important part of the relationship between an author and literay agent. The problem is there was no way for me to know this until I was in the middle of it.
What does an up and coming author do when their relationship with their agent isn’t progressing in a positive direction?
There is no simple answer. No two people are the same, just like no two situations are the same. What I can say is that if you express your concerns in the right way, often over and over, and things don’t change, you’re allowed to act. Remember, it’s your writing career. If you don’t stand up for yourself (for your authorly wants and needs), why should anyone else?
As long as we remain professional, and give the agent ample opportunity to address our concerns, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t act. Leaving my literary agent has taught me to identify, exactly, what I need from my future literary agent. Conversely, it’s also shown me how I don’t want to be treated.
We can learn from every experience, even the not so pleasant ones. The bottom line is if you’re having issues with your literary agent, you’re not alone. Remain professional and stand up for what you believe is right. You have every right to expect the absolute best. How people treat you says a lot about how they feel about you. I may be willing to overlook some things, but my eyes are always open. When you ask for change (within reason) and change never comes, something is wrong.
Don’t dwell on the past.
What happened once won’t necessarily happen again, especially if we learn from the past. We must not look at every literary agent the same way. We also must not let fear of failing again cripple us. We must move forward with grim, yet positive, determination. Basically, don’t let it get you down. You signed with a literary agent once, you can do it again.
There’s a Flyleaf song called New Horizons with the lyric, “When the times keep going wrong, then we go right.” I can’t think of a better statement. Just because things are going wrong doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. Doing the right thing is rarely the easiest thing, but it’s always the best thing.
Even though one door closed, another will open. I’m not leaving until it does. For now, it’s on to new horizons. Until next time, be good to one another.