Tuesday, January 05, 2010

When an Agent Leaves

Given my post yesterday, I made the assumption that many of you would want to immediately know what happened to all of the clients Jacky called hers in the ten years she worked at BookEnds, so in preparation of that I went ahead and wrote a post while the transition was being made.

When Jacky first told me she would be leaving BookEnds, one of the things we talked extensively about was how we would handle her clients, who would end up where and what everyone’s status was. Let me tell you that never once did it cross either of our minds that we would just simply let people go. BookEnds has been and always will be a business that survives on teamwork. We’ve always seen ourselves as a team and we always will. In my mind when you sign up to be a client of BookEnds, you join “the family” so to speak. Hopefully not in that scary do-or-die mafia sort of way, though.

Before even notifying Kim and Katelynn here at the office, Jacky and I discussed who would be the best fit for each of her clients, how she would tell them and how I would follow up. It’s a tricky situation and difficult for everyone. As I told each of Jacky’s clients, I know how hard it can be to lose an editor, and I can imagine losing an agent would be even scarier.

From my side of things, I made every attempt to be as responsive as possible. My goal was to get in touch with each of Jacky’s clients within hours, if possible, of her telling them the news. I wanted to reassure each of them that we were still committed to their careers and to let them know who would take on their projects. If I was the new agent, I wanted to chat about where they were with things, how they were feeling, and to give some insight into how I work.

There’s no doubt that a new agent, and a new client, is an adjustment for everyone. For the next few months I’m sure we’ll be feeling each other out and learning how the other works. However, my goal is to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone. I’m excited for the potential each client brings to BookEnds and I always love building careers. I see lots of continued success for everyone.

Jessica

27 comments:

Kristan said...

Funny, it never crossed my mind that you/BookEnds wouldn't take responsibility for Jacky's clients. It sounds like you had a very well-thought out plan and response -- which is completely in keeping with what (little) I know about you from this blog. I'm sure your clients appreciated it! Hopefully none of them will go off in search of another agent now. (That's actually what crossed my mind.)

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say, I'm very impressed by how you describe handling the transition. I've been dumped now by two agents, one of whom abruptly closed his agency and made no provision whatsoever for any of his clients, and the other of whom decided not to represent fiction any longer and said, "Well, I hear good things about so-and-so....you might try him." And then kept prompting me on the phone to say I forgave him or it was all right. (I kept my mouth shut, you'll be glad to know.)

Your sensitivity to the writers needs makes you a great agent. And I'm going to post this as anonymous instead of my usual ID so you don't think I'm trying to ingratiate myself with you if I ever query. :-D

Donna Lea Simpson said...

I've been in a situation where my agent was leaving the agency, (a rather well-known boutique agency) and my decision was to go with him or stay with the agency. I discovered my loyalty and trust was in Michael, and I've never regretted going with him, though the first year or so was shaky.

Now he and I have gone in different directions, which has been evident to me for some time, but because of the trust between us, we were able to discuss it openly and honestly, and decide it was time to part ways. He's helping me still with a contract I am currently discussing with a large publisher, and he doesn't want to take any percentage for his help.

I'm trying to find that same kind of rapport and trust with a new agent! Tough going, but I'm taking my time.

I, too, had no doubt that Jessica would handle it properly, by not deserting clients.

Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

The fact you cared enough to post on your blog about the clients and their possible situation gives me the impression of the agency.

Kudos.

Now I need to finish edits and submit to you. :)

6p00d8341c8bbb53ef said...

I'm more interested in what Jacky is doing!

6p00d8341c8bbb53ef said...

I'm more interested in what Jacky is doing!

Marsha Sigman said...

I never doubted that Bookends would take care of it's current clients. I think we can all tell your agency is not the kind that would abandon anyone.

Mira said...

This is a really nice post. I really hope someday I work with an agency as responsible and sensitive as this one.

I can imagine it's going to be a bumpy road for everyone, but you seem to be creating as smooth a path as possible.

Good luck to everyone involved during the transition!

Kim said...

It almost sounds like a divorce, but a friendly one (if there is such a thing). Good to see you worked out all the custody issues.

Tara McClendon said...

Best of luck through the transition.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Jacky's decision to leave was tough. Is it because of the overhaul in the pub industry? Seems you'll have less time than ever for any new clients. Good luck and Happy 2010 to your agency and *all* your clients!

Nicole said...

Ah, now that's the kind of dedication I would love to have...

Gordon Jerome said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gordon Jerome said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gordon Jerome said...

Oh great, I've stumbled into another agent blog where the agent deletes any posts that aren't comfortable or good for their reputation. It's like going on Tide's laundry soap twitter page and posting: "Well I got a stain it sure as hell didn't get out!"

You want me to write something like, "Well I'm sure Jacky had a good reason and you're all still very good friends and all the writers she's represented are well taken care of." Like I've got this crystal ball of good will.

The bottom line is you've split up and there's a reason. You don't want to provide a reason, because it doesn't leave you in a good strategic position. Fine. But it's still a sign that your agency's in trouble. Right?

That's why I said there's a world of difference between leaving Bookends to sell seasonal fireworks and leaving Bookends to go on an archeological dig. So why'd Jacky leave? It's just a natural question.

Jeff King said...

I think the reason, is none of our business. It should be private matter, between the company and its clients...

Why in the world should she or anyone for that matter divulge such info in a forum like this?

I think she went above and beyond, just talking about the situation and reassuring readers all is alright.

Really how could you expect an answer to your question?

Anonymous said...

If BookEnds were deleting comments the notification would read "This post has been removed by the administrator."

Since it reads that it was removed "by the author" that means it was deleted by whoever was leaving the comment. Not BookEnds.

kris said...

Gordon - First, I may be wrong, but I believe that when a post is deleted by the blog owner, it specifically says so. Deleted by the author means it was removed by the person who wrote the comment in the first place.

Second, what Jacky does with her life is HER news to share, not Jessica's. People change directions for a huge number of reasons. As one of Jessica's authors, I would not want her using her blog to post details of my life, and I believe Jacky deserves that same respect and consideration.

BookEnds is not a publicly held company that owes explanations to shareholders. Only those who have been impacted - Jacky, Kim, Katelynn, Jessica, their clients and their professional associates - have any right to the details. To expect explanations of private life/business decisions on a public forum is presumptuous. To demand those explanations as your due is rude.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

Okay, I think the blog owner can remove the one above! Yikes!

I wish Jacky all the best, and that your agency continues to be successful.

Kristen said...

I wasn't going to reply until I saw Gordon's potentially failblog worthy attempt at implying that Jessica was intentionally screening comments...

Jessica said that Jacky made a "decision to leave publishing" and "embark on a new career", which implies that whatever motivated her was more than BookEnds. If it were just the agency, we'd hear about Jacky changing to another part of publishing.

I'm totally with the people who are saying that it's none of our business why Jacky left BookEnds. I sure hope she doesn't feel any grief from this troll's post!

Gordon Jerome said...

@ Jeff

Really how could you expect an answer to your question?

She brought it up.

@ an Anon

If BookEnds were deleting comments the notification would read "This post has been removed by the administrator."

No. If she deletes it permanently it disappears completely. In fact that's how I edit my blog post on my blog. If I post something and want to change it, I can cut and paste, make the change, and then delete the original comment permanently.

@ Kris

Second, what Jacky does with her life is HER news to share, not Jessica's.

BookEnds is not a publicly held company that owes explanations to shareholders. Only those who have been impacted - Jacky, Kim, Katelynn, Jessica, their clients and their professional associates - have any right to the details. To expect explanations of private life/business decisions on a public forum is presumptuous. To demand those explanations as your due is rude.


Well, true, you make some good points there. And if I had "demanded" an answer, that would have been rude. But of course I didn't. I just asked a question after she posted the bait.

But all in all, fair enough. It still begs the question though: why? And I wasn't the only one in here who asked it.

Gordon Jerome said...

@ Kristin

I'm totally with the people who are saying that it's none of our business why Jacky left BookEnds. I sure hope she doesn't feel any grief from this troll's post!

It's none of your business if you're not with the agency and not considering using the agency. Which means, it's none of my business. But it may well be y'alls business. And originally, in the original post that didn't survive, my only reason for asking was to find out something about the publishing industry in general. Are agents quitting in droves?

But I love it here. I'm not a troll. I'm already measuring for curtains in the spare bedroom. I'm here to stay. Why? Because I really love the blogs where the agents don't respond to their posters. The posters lavish them with praise and they never return a comment or answer a question. Oh, they read, but they don't respond. I just have to be around that kind of pompous arrogance in this era of imploding publishing. It makes me feel all warm inside.

Maureen Hume said...

I sincerely echo Mira's comment about being responsible and sensitive.
Reading your post about Jacky's move and to then read about how you'll deal with her clients makes me feel good about the goodness of human nature.
Maureen. www.thepizzagang.com

Anonymous said...

Gordon Jerome
Mostly people comment on blogs because they wish to be a part of the conversation/debate. You sound a lot angry and a bit sad. Maybe you should try commenting on a other blog. Perhaps one where the blog is more simpatico with your comments.

Daryl a.k.a. Avery said...

Jessica, Kim and the "family," I think you did a great job during the transition. It had to be a difficult and emotional time. I wish Jacky all the best in her future, and to you, all the best as you pursue your passions as well!

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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