We’ve talked about this some as it happened in comments, but this first post from Claire Holworth from earlier in the week tells a few more details. And some fantastic comments following about agents in this blog from Ted Mooney.
And remember, folks, this was a top, really top agent. Not a slush reader by any means. This is the problem with no regulation and letting someone else touch your money before you do.
There are NO rules anywhere in publishing that your check must be sent to your agent first.
Read Claire’s article here. (Go NOW before you read any more or none of the rest of this will make sense.)
Ted Mooney gave permission to respost a comment he made about the situation on a couple groups. It follows and is some great information about going alone with your books and his opinion on it.
Reposted with Author’s permission from LinkedIn/Books and Writers Group:
Ted Mooney • For my almost entirely negative experience regarding my sole literary agent, see Claire Howarth’s recent article in “The Daily Beast,” to be found here. I have been representing my most recent novel, “The Same River Twice” (Knopf 2010), entirely myself, with Gary Fisketjon as my editor, and not only have I had a much easier time seeing that things get done, but I also now know more about how Knopf works than almost anybody who actually is employed there, as the various departments do not communicate well with each other (true at any large publisher). As fewer and fewer agents are interested in anything but money, they make fewer and fewer of the phone calls necessary to be sure, for example, that the foreign rights are sold to the right houses, and so on. If you can possibly do without an agent (I simply got sick of the agents I was considering to replace my old one and submitted my MS to Gary myself), I would advised you to go solo. Only those writers just starting out and those who make millions every time they publish really need an agent, I’m coming to think. But I reserve the right to change my mind. Read Clare’s article, in any case; it’s almost unbelievable. In fact, though, she had to tone it *down* after consultation with legal counsel on both sides. It was all *much* worse.
Here’s Ted Mooney’s reply when asked for permission to repost to writer’s groups:
Post with my blessings. Claire’s article elicited responses from as far away as India and brought still more information on the HW affair to light. The one thing I forgot to include in my earlier posting is that if you represent yourself you will end up doing a good deal more work than you would if you had an agent. That’s because agent these days rarely follow up on “small” things once the initial (big money) sale is completed. Of course there are always magnificent exceptions–agents who work tirelessly and out of belief in your work and in literature in general–but, tellingly, they rarely take on new clients because they are actually busy doing all the work involved in bringing a book into the world. More and more agents these days come out of a business administration background rather than a literary one and deploy their energies wherever they determine the most money can be made for the agency. Of course a lot of writers like to have agents because the agent will provide (often false) comfort in stressful situations, leaving the writer unaware that the phone calls that might have solved whatever problem is causing the stress were never made because they were deemed by the agent to be insufficiently remunerative. That’s why so many agents have too many clients; they want to have only the big payoff moments while avoiding the scut work. If you represent yourself, you will see how much of this scut work there is, and you will do it. Why? Because in the end no one cares as much about what happens to your book as you do. Period.