Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bad Agent Alert

I’m a published author who recently signed with a new agent. I love her. She responds quickly to all my emails, keeps in touch and moves quickly. Lately though a few things have come up that make me wonder if I’m being scammed. When looking at her web site it seems I’m her only published author, and the books she’s promoting she didn’t even sell. My biggest concern is that recently she was getting ready to submit my proposal and told me that she could not make multiple submissions, that she’d been talking to an editor who told her that if editors learn a book is out with other houses they will simply throw it away. She said that it’s a rumor among authors that agents can make multiple submissions, but it’s not true.

Let me explain first that this is one of those cases where it’s possible you aren’t being scammed, but definite that you are in the hands of a Bad Agent. I’m not sure this agent is intentionally trying to stonewall your career, and since you didn’t mention it I’m going to assume you didn’t pay any money up front; however, this agent clearly does not know or understand how the business works. In my mind a bad agent can be as destructive as a Scam Agent, sometimes more so since a scam agent is clearly breaking the law, and a bad agent is “only” damaging your career.

Let’s look at this case logically. In reviewing recent deals made by agents I regularly see postings about auctions or pre-empts. None of those things could exist if it weren’t for multiple submissions. Let’s also look at what your friends and their agents are doing. My guess is that if you ask any of them, their agents are making multiple submissions. How can it be a false rumor if everyone else is doing it?

My advice, get out. Now. It’s not your job to teach Bad Agent how to do her job. It’s your job to look out for you and your career. Bad Agent isn’t doing you any good, and if she doesn’t know how to submit, how do you expect her to negotiate a contract.