Agent versus Agency

If your agent leaves an agency, several issues may crop up that, as an author, you may find surprising. If you follow Christian publishing circles, recently an agent made a change between agencies, and several authors had to make a decision about what to do.

Stay with the agent or the agency.

Several details may play into your decision. What have you done for me lately? Perhaps you’re not on the best of terms with your current agent, and you want a fresh start. Staying with the agency may be a good choice. Or, you have a great working relationship with your agent and can’t imagine not moving forward with him or her. What’s the reputation of the new and old agency? Does it matter to you?

But the decision may not be as easy as just those questions.

Here are a few things I learned that surprised me.

1. You may not be able to leave. This sounds strange, so let me explain further. Your agent may not be able to take you away from the agency. This depends on the contract your agent signed with the agency when they developed their partnership. So, if you love your agent and never foresee parting ways, this may be an important piece of information for you to know. Personally, I never thought about asking this. Though, my agent is president of his agency, so he likely won’t leave himself.

2. Your contract will stay. Even if you leave the agency with your agent, the contract he/she negotiated will probably stay with the agency. This presents an interesting situation. It’s likely you’ll be working with both parties for the duration of the contract. The agency may handle some aspects, and your agent may handle others. Be sure you’re clear on these details.

3. You may have to reorganize. Perhaps your only social media presence was through your agency. Your picture was only on their web site. You blogged only through their outlets. This speaks to not having all of your eggs in one basket. Remember, your name is your brand. This should be developed separate from what your agency does. So, be blogging in multiple places. Have your own web site. The more internet presence you have, the less likely a change like this will affect your ability to get your message out.

What about you? Do you think you’d be more loyal to the agent or the agency?

13 Replies to “Agent versus Agency”

  1. Thank you for this thought-provoking post. If an agent moves it would depend on all the points you mentioned. I would consider the agency I was with vs. the new agency. But most important to me would be the relationship with the agent. I feel that would take precedence – why pick an agent that you don’t like to work with? If/when I acquire an agent, I want one to work with that I like and trust.

    Question for you: If you have an agent (a hard thing to acquire in the first place) and your agent moves. Does the agency provide you with a new agent or do you have to do the sending out letters to attract a new agent thing?

    Have a blessed day.

    1. Heather,

      You ask a very good question. If your agent moves and you don’t go, does the agency provide an agent for you?

      Here’s my answer from an author’s perspective. The agent may say the same thing about you. What have they done for me lately? If you haven’t been actively writing and getting books contracted, they may not see the value of keeping you on. However, if you were selling well and had a million ideas and really had a good reputation with publishing houses and worked super hard at marketing– they would see the value in keeping you part of the agency. It is a business. You are a commodity. Make yourself as valuable as you can.

      1. Thank you – as I get my memoir ready for an agent I will keep this i mind. You are right, a one time wonder or someone who isn’t professional isn’t a good client. I will work hard to make sure the agent likes my work ethic.

      2. And along with that, there has to be a connection between an author and an agent. So if they agency wants to keep the author, they must show some enthusiasm for his or her work and be able to prove they can shepherd their career. In our case, I think it was fair that some authors stayed with their agent, and I think it was productive for others to test the waters to stay with the agency by at least having a couple of phone calls.

      3. Greg, thank you. I guess what it comes down to is a good working relationship on all parties. When I get to the point of asking an agent to represent me, I will keep all these issues in mind. It is a bit scary for a new author when the market is changing so dramatically. I still have dreams of a book on the shelves of a bookstore.

  2. I think the decision over whether to move with the agent or stay with the agency would require consideration of many things. However, the final decision on which to choose would probably happen when I’m on my knees praying. The hard decisions aren’t between good and bad, but decipering between good and better.

  3. This is an interesting question, but I am quite sure I would opt to stay with my agent. An agent is the point of connection to, and the face of, an agency; so if the agent leaves, the agency could seem like a completely different entity — and no longer a good fit.

    Plus, I think it would be easier to get used to working with a new agency than a new agent.

  4. Thanks for the fabulous information! I’m starting to learn more about the agent/author relationship and this is just perfect for where I’m at.

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