Scott Phillips is an excellent writer (The Ice Harvest, Cottonwood) with a strange and entertaining blog called Pocketful of Ginch
. Scott recently posted
about his agent’s refusal to submit his most recently completed work to publishers, as she found it “offensive.” (Scott’s term.)
Yesterday I read an interview with James lee Burke
, where he tells of his agent receiving 111 rejections of The Lost Get Back Boogie, the book that earned him a Pulitzer Prize nomination when it finally saw print. (Previous agents had rolled up their own impressive totals.
Here’s my question: How much of a two-way street should the author-agent relationship be? If an agent agrees to represent your “work,” should the author not be able to infer this means “all of your work.” Authors sign exclusivity agreements with agents; we can’t shop individual books around to different agents. If agents can cherry pick which book they feel like representing, should they then be entitled to come back later in the process, read the contract, and collect their 15%? Or should this be grounds for severing the relationship?