Should I stay or should I go? by Vanessa Grossett

‘Dear Vanessa

I am a new author and, after nine months of waiting, my agent finally found me a publisher. To be honest, I didn’t feel they were the right ones for me, however I had waited so long for a publisher to take a chance on me, I went ahead and signed the contract; I did not want to delay things any further.

Unfortunately my suspicions came to light when I started working with them: the editing was very poor, and the book cover looked very amateurish. I expressed my concerns to my agent, but she didn’t seem bothered, patronising me, stating they are the experts.

Anyway, the book is out on the market. As a newbie, I was expecting them to help me a little. I know I must do the marketing myself, but I didn’t think they would abandon me and that is how I feel – abandoned. Every time I go to my agent, she brushes it off like it’s nothing. Vanessa, I don’t know what to do. I want to leave, but it took so long to find a publisher. Please, any advice you can give I will be grateful.’

I receive many horror stories from new authors about the problems they encounter with a publisher and/or literary agents. With this particular author, she had warning signs at the beginning, but chose to ignore them because she wanted her book to be out in the market. I can understand that; no artist wants their work just sitting there wasting away and, when an opportunity comes up to take it to the next level, they automatically take it. However, it is not always the right opportunity. Clients and I have been through this type of situation with some publishers, and it is unpleasant – especially for my clients.

If you’re a new author in a similar situation as this, and you are extremely unhappy, these are the two main things you can do:

  1. Leave the book with the publisher, continue to promote not only the book but also yourself, and work on your next book. That way, if you continue to promote, at least you are building up your readership and credibility as an author. Do keep in mind the royalties will still need to be split between publisher, agent and yourself. When you work on the next book, you would need to let the agent and publisher know that you no longer want to continue with them, so going forwards, their services won’t be needed. This will need to be an official termination letter, and then you can start afresh with the next book.


  1. Start afresh early, and terminate contract with both agent and publisher. You will regain control of publishing rights, and in this case maybe it will be best to self publish, as most publishers don’t like to take on books that have already been on the market. I personally have had some clients choose this method when they were unhappy with a publisher. Please keep in mind, it might not make any difference with the sales, but you will be much happier.

In my opinion, option 1 is the better option; at least you will have a book on the market, and it will also give you more credibility when you are ‘shopping’ around for a new publisher and/or agent.

Sadly, not all working relationships are going to be a smooth ride, but if you can work it out, please do. Remember, even though you’re a new author, don’t let anyone take you for a ride. Think of your aims, what you hope to achieve in this industry, and know your value. Sometimes you have to let go in order to reach your God-given destination.

I hope this helps some of you out there, who have gone or are going through a similar situation.

With love


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