Switching Agents

I know a lot of you who read my blog are already agented. (Some of you by me, go figure.) So here’s something I want to say.

Please, please please. If you are unhappy with your agent, and if you are thinking about making a switch:

DON’T talk to a bunch of people about it, and…

DON’T talk with other agents about representation…

UNTIL you’ve talked with your agent.

Most people find it so much easier to simply end a relationship rather than try to talk out the issues and improve things. But chances are that if you talk with your agent about what’s bothering you, the switch might not be necessary. It’s kinda like being married. You have an agreement, you know? It’s nice when you at least try to work things out.

Even if your agreement was verbal, still. You’re only as good as your word.

If your agent is the last to know that you’re firing them, particularly if you’ve spoken with other agents already, well, it just hurts. This is a relationship business, as you know. It’s also an extremely small world and everybody knows everybody. Yes, agents talk to each other. So make sure you’re being courteous and following protocol. Don’t burn bridges. Don’t make people think less of you.

There’s nothing wrong with firing your agent if that relationship isn’t working for you. I just want you to make sure switching agents will really solve your perceived problem; and I encourage you to do it the right way.

And if you’re agented by someone else and you want to talk with me about representation, I will tell you straight up: I don’t talk about representation with people currently represented by another agent. If you formally terminate that relationship, feel free to contact me.

As much as we might need the business, agents are also wary of writers who agent-hop. Be careful of getting a reputation as fickle.

Be smart. Be polite. Nice guys don’t finish last.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Burton Haynes on March 25, 2012 at 2:02 PM

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  2. Debbie on March 11, 2008 at 9:34 PM

    >Common courtesy isn’t as common as it needs to be. In a competitive profession I think sometimes people get so involved in their game plan they forget the game rules. Thanks for your blog, Rachelle. It’s timely and helpful.

  3. David A. Todd on March 11, 2008 at 3:07 PM

    >Advice I’ll remember, if I’m ever so fortunate to land an agent!

  4. Robbie Iobst on March 11, 2008 at 12:20 PM

    >Rachelle, I am new to your blog and I love it! Thanks for teaching me about the writing business and the writing craft.

  5. Nancy on March 11, 2008 at 9:57 AM

    >Hi Rachelle,
    Thanks, once again, for timely tips and behinnd-the-scenes advice. In a blog world where so many writer’s give THEIR point of view, it’s so informative to understand the agent’s point of view, too!

  6. Richard Mabry on March 11, 2008 at 7:23 AM

    So very timely. I’ve seen so much blog traffic about switching agents that I want to scream, “Maybe it’s not the agent. Maybe it’s your writing, or the publishing climate, or….” I’ve also mentioned this subject in my own blog, with a link to your blog and to a posting by Bookends Literary agency about “divorcing your agent.” Maybe eventually the message will get through.
    As always, many thanks for this look inside the world of publishing.