Monday, August 29, 2011

An Agent Leaves

I'm hoping you can help me understand something. I see mentioned occasionally that an agent is moving from one literary agency to another. From what I've been able to tell, this can mean transitioning their clients to someone else in the old agency and acquiring new ones with the new group.

Is that common? A writer spends so much time looking for the right literary agent; someone they click with and get along with who is passionate about their work. So is the writer signing with an agent or with the agency when they finally make that connection? I realize it's different when an agent just takes another career path, but while they're still in the business, how does the managing of clients work under these circumstances?

An agent leaving an agency can mean a ton of different things depending on the contract the agent has with the agency. The clients could go along for the ride or stay with the original agency. Sometimes the contracts the agent negotiated stay with the agency, but the clients themselves, and their new clients, would go along with the agent. I don't know that it's common for agents to leave agencies unless they are starting their own. I guess I've never thought about how often it does or does not happen.

The only way to know what would happen with you in that situation is to ask the agent when an offer of representation is received what would happen if that agent chooses to leave the agency.



Donna Lea Simpson said...

This actually happened to me, and I was given the choice to stay with the agency or follow my agent as he started his new agency. I went with him. The agency owner was someone I had never spoken with, and who had not acquired me, so why would I stay? I never regretted it.

Anonymous said...

I've heard of cases where agents leave for various reasons. One of which is to expand. And if there's no chance of at least a partnership with a small agency for an agent, after years of working with them, it only stands to reason to move to a larger agency or start their own. In almost all cases I've heard the clients have followed them to the new agency.

Anonymous said...

Good advice. Donna, glad it worked out so well for you.

Giora said...

Jessica, as someone who search about agents for my adult fiction and now also for my YA fiction, it's comon for young agents to move around from agency to agency till they settle down. The conflict of who "owns" the client, the agent or the agency, is common in Wall Street when a broker moves to another firm. It can be dicey when the client is a very successful author who can generate lots of revenues for the leaving agent and/or his ex agency.

Kristin Laughtin said...

What if the agent simply leaves the business? I assume any existing contracts stay with the old agency, but is the client usually transferred to a new agent or forced to look for a new one (or does it just depend on the terms of the contract)?

Anonymous said...

"What if the agent simply leaves the business?"

That's why it's important to research the agent and make sure there's a good solid track record you can depend on. Research who they rep, too. And check out the titles they rep. Do they have a long list? Are there any big books on that list.

I know people change. I know circumstances change. But I've seen too many "folks" become literary agents out of the blue and then quit after a few years.

The author has to do the research and choose the agent as much as the agent has to choose the author.