Thursday, February 12, 2015

Things Change--Why I Said Goodbye to My Agent

How to measure a problem

A few days ago, I said goodbye to my agent.

You might be wondering, "Why?!"

I'll get to that, but first I would like to say that it wasn't a decision I made lightly, or impulsively. I have been considering the move for the last six months and, after consulting with some of my close writer peeps, finally came to a conclusive decision.

I wrote her a professional letter explaining my reasoning and wished her only the best.

Because I DO, truly and sincerely, only wish her the very best.

There are lots of articles and blogs out there that give sound advice on some of the more obvious reasons why you should call it quits with your agent. I won't rehash but they basically boil down to the fact that you are in a terrible professional relationship with someone who is either a crook, an idiot, or is just plain lazy--GET OUT NOW.

That story is not my story.

I signed with my agent in 2010, it was with my second book and two years after starting my search. She was a newish agent just building her list but she had been in the business for awhile and she was attached to a very reputable agency. She is smart, well read, passionate about books and authors, and connected to editors at big and medium houses that considered and responded to her submissions.

What else could a new writer ask for? I mean, really?

Because not only was she all those things, she also responded in a timely manner to my inquiries, provided editorial feedback, educated me about the publishing business/process, and tried to cheer me through some of the more challenging moments of rejection.

She was by all counts a wonderful agent for me.

So really...what is my problem, what the hell was I thinking letting her go?

Years ago, when I was just starting my graduate program, I had a kind and wise professor who aptly described the definition of "A Problem." He said, a problem, any problem, is the difference between an expectation and current circumstances. The greater the difference between the expectation and the current circumstance, the bigger the problem. 

There are two ways to solve or reduce a problem. Either:
  • Increase your circumstances to get closer to your expectation 
  • Lower your expectation
Now I know the knee jerk response that feels the most right, especially given the current NEVER EVER EVER GIVE UP movement, is to of course--rise up! "Who lowers expectations?! Quitters, that's who lowers expectations!" you might be thinking.  "And I'm NO QUITTER!"

And here, I will nod my head. You are not a quitter. Neither am I. But I also think that, sometimes, the right move is to lower an expectation depending on how much heartache the size of your problem is creating.

Now everyone is different. And how we perceive and respond to problems is different. And my particular problem, framed by my perception of it, has been causing me some significant heartache for quite some time now.

For me, my agent was intimately tied into my great publishing expectations and, to be quite frank, the distance between my expectation and my current circumstances is a problem big enough to make me very sad.

Very, very sad.

Having said that (and also not being a quitter!) I felt it was necessary to make some adjustments. I simply do not have the time to be sad! :-) Not only did I lower my expectation of being traditionally published by a medium to ginormous publishing house, I completely eradicated it. And thus, I did not need a lingering relationship with my agent to remind me of that old, and painful, wish.

So what now?

Now, it's like some huge weight has been lifted off my back. My books will not be published by a house large enough to allow them to fight for space in B&N.

And, I'm okay with that. (Almost :-)

I will continue to write. Study writing. Teach writing. Blog about writing.
I will publish my books for my small audience and enjoy the fact that I get to do that.
I will accept this parcel of desire entwined with some measure of talent as my own to do with what I will, when I have the time, and to the degree that it continues to deliver me happiness instead of tears.

I will embrace being in charge of my own ship, alone, and remember to be thankful that my hands are on the wheel. 


  1. I can totally understand this. It's amazing how the publishing climate has changed, and how it's no longer one size fits all.

    Glad to see you're choosing happiness. It's the best option :-)

    1. Thanks Fleur! Also, I'm very fortunate to be connected to some pretty amazing writers (present commenter included!)

    2. :-) I'm just excited to see great writers find the path that's right for them. Exciting, I think.

  2. Good for you, Rebecca, to know when to say when. (((HUGS)))... and you never know, there have been some self-pubbed authors who DO end up on the shelves at B&N. ;)

    1. Thanks Kelley. It was definitely "when" for me.

  3. I am so proud of you. It has to be hard to adjust expectations down, but there is a lot to be said about not settling and taking control instead. I believe that good things will come as a result. xo

    1. Certainly peace of mind will be first on the list of good things. Thanks for the support Corinne!

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and decision. I'm so excited for you and this new direction in your career!

    1. Thank you Chris! I think it will interesting to see how I feel about all of this six months from now. You know, when the honeymoon high of drastic change is over :-)

  5. That's great!!! Will we be able to read the sequel to your book ascendant anytime soon??