When Mom and Dad Split Up

Getting an early morning call from your agent can lead to adrenaline induced heart arrhythmias. Working in the ER, I’m trained to assume and prepare for the worst case scenario. That’s the nurse in me. But, what do you do when you get a cryptic message from your agent?

Me—assume the worst. What could he be calling about? Is it an issue with my publisher? Is he dropping me? What could it possibly be?

Not only am I an ER nurse but a suspense author—so I may lean toward the dramatic.

Quick dial back.

The news was not anything I expected. An agent was leaving the fold as Greg mentioned in late December as part of the agency news. What did that mean? The reason for the call was to discuss what would happen to this agency blog when several contributors were leaving.

The WordServe Water Cooler started in the middle of last year as an agency blog with the focus of helping authors a little further back on their writing journey navigate the publishing road. Since it is an agency blog, professionally, it needed to be maintained as such. Those authors choosing to go with their agent to the other agency would not be able to participate.

Problem was—we had become a family along the way.

Initially, when the blog was set up, a Facebook group was started as a communication tool to facilitate signing up for posts. What it morphed into was a true community of authors supporting, encouraging, and praying for one another’s triumphs and difficulties.

Personally, I didn’t want to lose touch with those who were leaving. It felt like my family was splitting up. Greg had tasked me and another author to take over administrating the blog. We began a conversation with the current overseers about how to handle the change.

How this multi-author blogging group handled this agency change has been humbling and inspiring and I believe has some lessons that can be learned by all—both on a personal and professional level.

Here are a few I’d like to highlight.

1. Do not gossip. On our group Facebook page, there would have been ample opportunity to gossip about the situation. Who was leaving? Why were they leaving? What do you think of such and such agency? Agent? I can honestly say this did not happen. Everyone was professional and supportive and prayed over those having to make tough decisions and over those who were most affected by the change.

2. Your decision is personal. Whether or not you decide to stay with a particular agent/agency is a private matter—not a group discussion. Only a few trusted people should be privy to the reasons. This is handling it professionally. Airing grievances publicly, particularly on social media, will come back to bite you. The world of publishing is small, and people will remember how you acted.

3. Create a neutral meeting ground. To meet the need of maintaining those relationships that developed via the Facebook group—a new private group was created where those who left could still interact with those that stayed. Of course, I can’t tell you the name. It’s a secret.

4. Be open to new opportunities. Change is part of life. The choice you make is how you handle it. You may be presented with opportunities to grow and stretch. Don’t be shy about stepping up and learning new things. This month, you’ll see several new talented authors contributing to this blog—including superstar agents Greg Johnson and Barbara Scott. You’ll learn more about marketing and social media from publicity expert Ingrid Schneider. Ever wonder what it’s like to intern at a literary agency? Check out Sarah Freese’s posts.

Question for you—what’s been the biggest change related to publishing/writing you’ve had to deal with?

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17 thoughts on “When Mom and Dad Split Up

  1. Having joined Wordserve during this transition, I can vouch for the closeness and kindness within this agency. I’m proud to be a new member of this family.

  2. I just signed the agency contract yesterday, and as one of the newest members of the flock I am delighted by those who are already in the group and of course, wish God’s blessings on those who are leaving.

    • Sharon,

      I was so excited to see you as part of the WordServe family! I’ve been thinking of you often since our meeting at ACFW last September. Many blessings to you as you begin to submit your novel to publishing houses.

  3. Great post, Jordyn! Thanks!

    What a joy to be a new part of this professional community! You all rock ~ agents, clients, and readers alike! Blessings to each one of you!

  4. The split you write about, Jordyn, was difficult, but not as much for me as many of the other clients involved, since I was brand new to WordServe and because I decided right away to try to maintain contacts with agency mates no matter what their decisions.

    My most difficult publishing situation came for me shortly after Doubleday purchased my first novel back in 1989. I was proclaimed one of their new rising stars, was brought out to NYC to meet everyone and that was a joyous time in my life. Before my novel could be published a year later, Doubleday was purchased by another huge publisher. I lost my editor and all the people who had pushed so hard to make my first novel a success. The word in vogue was “orphaned” and that was what it felt like. That was the toughest time for me in publishing, but I learned that no matter what happens, God is in control, and it’s a wonderful part of life to meet new people and continue to forge bonds of friendship and respect among those who work together.

    Loved this post, Jordyn!

    • Thanks Sue! Honestly, I can’t imagine having gone through what you did. I don’t know how I would have handled that. You bring up an excellent point– God is in control and has your best interests in mind. I’ve thought back to times where things weren’t “going my way” and realize now that what I considered a negative happening (like not getting a job I really wanted) was probably a blessing in disguise. It’s hard in the moment to realize it may be God’s intervention keeping you from something that truly would not be good for you or just helping you stay on the path He wants.

  5. Since I’m new to publishing and have yet to contract with an agent, the biggest change for me was the entire paradigm shift that had to occur as I learned what was involved with getting a book to print. I’m somewhat introverted, so putting myself out there was new. I’m reading books on marketing and business, creating a website, and researching other authors who write in a similar genre, things that never interested me before.

    As an outsider watching the split I’ve been impressed. The professionalism and caring by all involved have been obvious.

    • Ann,

      I can soooo relate to your current reading list. I, too, have been delving into a lot of foreign territory. Sounds like you are doing all you can to be a professional author.

      And thanks for your last comment. That means a lot– to all of us.

  6. You summed up the situation perfectly, Jordyn. I’m proud of the way everyone handled the transition–with kindness and respect. Character matters, and the agency and authors proved that character is also classy!

    • I agree Megan! And I want to add that Katie Ganshert and Keli Gwyn have helped (and continue to be very helpful and supportive) tremendously during the blog transition. They are true representations of operating with integrity.

  7. This group has proven to be one of the most professional groups I’ve ever worked with, displaying both integrity and an amazing commitment to unity and providing a quality blog for readers. I’ve also been so impressed by the commitment we’ve made to respect one another, no matter what decision we’ve made individually regarding staying with WSLA or transitioning to a new agency.

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