For my birthday eve tonight I got a letter from my agent saying she thinks it's a good idea to part ways. I hope it's okay to post it because really? It's a great letter. And here's what else is good about this situation. She never dodged my notes (well, a tiny bit toward the end, but hardly noticeable) She came right out and cut our losses. A quick band-aid pull does the trick.
Attention professionals! Take a lesson from her and write. It might well be a template---I was going to say form letter but that sounds snarky and really, why not have a template? every agent should have this sort of letter on file. Please, please use it instead of the passive aggressive death-wait I've heard about. That's when agents freeze out authors by ignoring emails until the authors give up. The agents end up the dumped instead of the dumpers.
Here's the letter:
This is a difficult email for me to write, but I think it's
necessary at this point, unfortunately. **
I've taken time this summer to reflect on where my business is headed and my
goals for the future. I've been thinking also about my various authors and
how their work fits into my overall plan, my available time, and my ability
to steer them in the right direction for their careers. I have limited time
and a lot of great authors on my list who all deserve my time and attention.
Some authors' work is selling, and I've really been able to help them break
through, and there are others who, no matter how much I try, don't seem to
quite be gelling with publishers, or at least haven't yet been able to make
it in the mainstream market.
You came up as one of the people I really like working with, but whose work
just doesn't seem to be hitting in the mainstream marketplace -- or maybe
not yet. I think you're hugely talented and have a lot of drive and great
ideas, but I'm afraid I haven't been able to help you hit the right notes
with your work and I'm starting to feel that my efforts are not going to be
what you need to become successful. It's been a source of some frustration
for me, and I'm sure for you as well, that we can't break in with your stuff
- I think it's original and very entertaining, and as far as I'm concerned
SHOULD be selling. So, I'm sorry to say that probably the best thing for
both of us is for us to part ways and for you to find an agent who will have
the vision that I seem to lack to take you to the next level.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want to talk about this -- I'm
happy to advise you on how to proceed if you like, and in any case I really
have enjoyed working with you and wish you nothing but the best in the
I must say I've had good luck with agents. Not with sales or, at least, agented sales but when I hear stories about dodgy agents.... well . . .I have loved mine.
except now they've all said goodbye to me. They've cut me loose.
. . . And now I'm going to go feel very, very, VERY sorry for myself and like a complete and utter failure a hasbeen a nevergonna be and and omigod, I feel wretched and old. Did I mention that this is my birthday and I'm FIFTY. Oy. That's why I'm making such a song and dance about the birthday thing. It's a biggy. Fifffffffteeeeeeeeeeeee. Jesus.
Please don't point out that the alternative is worse or I'll come sit on you.
**blogger made it look like a poem. It didn't come to me in that form, but I think I'll leave it the way it is. I like it.