A couple years ago, a woman picked my co-authored book out of a slushpile, invested hours into reading it, and decided that Lauren and I were talented enough to warrant her offering representation. This was September 9, 2010 actually because I have a blog post about it. This agent believed we’d eventually sell because we had good narrative voices and a decent story. She crafted a pitch, spent hours talking about our work to people we’d never meet. She sent it out to editors, followed up with editors, and pushed our book because she believed in it and us.
That book still hasn’t found a home despite that woman’s efforts. The book was eventually pulled because the market wasn’t quite open to another magical academy paranormal even if our take on it was different. She put all that time and effort into us and got . . . nothing. No pay for those hours of her life gone.
January 2011 comes and I go out on sub with a book called THE LEGACY. A single pass despite Miriam once again pushing me hard, hard, hard. Hours of time invested, no sale. Which means no paycheck for her. Over the next year, two more books for me, two books for Lauren . . . no sale. If we’re adding up Miriam’s hours of working for us versus actual paychecks received, I think you can see the sinkhole. It’s widening all the time. Tons of effort, little payout.
April of 2012 I -finally- get a request for a rewrite for THE LEGACY. We know how that story goes, but my first book offer comes in October of 2012. Two years after she gave me representation. Which means she worked for two years to get me on shelves and never got a penny. And yes, it’s work. It’s a lot of work that doesn’t pay out a lot of the time.
Lauren, meanwhile, also has STUFF going on, but nothing she can talk about yet nor anything I would report on without her okay, but let’s leave it at where she is now ALSO took upwards of two years – same boat. Our agent worked her ass off for her for free.
Another one of my crit partners? Exact same story. It took more than two years for Miriam to place her, but place her she did. Two years, free work.
I understand that a book not selling is frustrating to an author. I also understand that sometimes agents aren’t nice people. Sometimes they don’t do what they say. Sometimes they don’t work hard enough or they give up too fast. Sometimes a person’s writing trajectory changes and that means the author’s vision and the agent’s vision don’t sync up anymore and they should part ways. But lemme say this – if you leave your agent and that agent has worked with you for years, has put your books on editors’ desks and done what she could to find you a home, don’t piss all over that. You don’t have to like that your book didn’t sell, but don’t dismiss the efforts put into the initial sales pitch – the hours that were invested in you and your work that yielded the agent nothing. Because if you do that, you look like an ingrate.
Yes, sometimes the author/agent relationship goes south, but unless that agent really fucked you over? Remember that they went to bat for you with no guarantee of it getting them anything. You don’t have to like them, but at least respect and acknowledge the hours they invested in you. That’s just professional. Anything else looks like sour grapes, and sour grapes makes me — and a lot of others — think you’re a dink.
Don’t be a dink.