July 27 – August 2: “When should a writer change agents?”

thriller-roundtable-logo5This week we’re joined by Kimberly Cameron, Helen Heller, Janet Reid, Alec Shane, Beth Phelan and John Raab as they answer the questions on everyone’s mind: “When should a writer change agents? Are agents wary of writers with low sales seeking such a change?”




Janet Reid, FinePrint Literary Management

querysharkJanet Reid is on the hunt for high octane, page turning thrillers. In her spare time she drinks Scotch and stalks Jack Reacher. Her publishing background includes fifteen years in book publicity with clients both famous and infamous. She is actively looking for projects that show mastery of craft and originality. Ms. Reid is a member of the literary agents professional association AAR, She’s an associate member of Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She belongs to the American Library Association, Biographer’s International Organization, the American History Association and is a past board member of the NYC chapter of the Women’s National Book Association


Beth Phelan, The Bent Agency

Phelan, Beth - picture as of 05112015Bio: Beth Phelan is originally from Fall River, Massachusetts but now lives in Brooklyn. She is a graduate of New York University, lifelong reader and dog person. After holding positions at Waxman Leavell Literary (then called the Scott Waxman Literary Agency) and Howard Morhaim Literary, Beth joined the Bent Agency in 2013 where she is continuing to build her list. She can be found at bethphelan.com, thebentagency.com, and on Twitter at @beth_phelan.



Alec Shane, Writers House, LLC

Shane, AlecBio: Alec majored in English at Brown University, a degree he put to immediate use by moving to Los Angeles after graduation to become a professional stunt man. Realizing that he prefers books to breakaway glass, he moved to New York City in 2008 to pursue a career in publishing. Alec quickly found a home at Writers House Literary Agency, where he has worked directly under agents Jodi Reamer and Amy Berkower since 2009. In that time, he has worked on and provided strong editorial feedback for a large number of Adult and Young Adult titles of all ranges and genres. Alec is now actively seeking out clients for his own list.



Kimberley Cameron, Kimberley Cameron & Associates

cameronKimberley Cameron loves finding new voices. She was the co-founder of Knightsbridge Publishing Company with offices in New York and Los Angeles. In 1993 she became partners with Dorris Halsey of The Reece Halsey Agency, founded in 1957. She opened Reece Halsey North in 1995 and in 2009 the agency became Kimberley Cameron & Associates. She resides and works from Tiburon, California and France.




Helen Heller, The Helen Heller Agency

hellerHelen has spent her career in publishing and specializes in thrillers and major front-list fiction. She likes a big story well told and handles a number of internationally bestselling and multiple-award-winning authors. Helen is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives.




John Raab, Suspense Publishing

Raab, John - Picture as of 11102014Bio: Born and raised in Ohio, I relocated to Los Angeles, California in 2007. It was that same year my wife, Shannon, and I created Suspense Magazine, which spawned Suspense Publishing onto the literary scene. Currently publishing #1 New York Times Bestselling author, Paul Kemprecos, along with publishing award winning authors Joseph Badal, the writing team of Gary Williams and Vicki Knerly, and Tom B. Sawyer, who was the executive producer of “Murder, She Wrote”. Suspense Publishing is also a partner of the ITW, CWA, HWA and IACW organizations.


  1. A writer should change agents if the agent isn’t doing her job: not negotiating contracts, not providing royalty statements. A writer
    should evaluate whether to change agents if the agent isn’t selling
    the writer’s work.

    And sometimes a fresh perspective is needed, even if the agent is doing
    a good job.

    A writer who has not done well with previous books will have a harder
    time finding a new agent than a debut author. It’s harder to sell a writer
    with a sales track than one with high hopes and no record.

  2. The author/agent relationship is a lot like a marriage, in a lot of ways; ideally, you’re pairing up for life, but sometimes it just makes sense to part ways. Usually both author and agent alike can see it coming, as communications become fewer and farther in between, there are potential disagreements regarding either a round of edits or the next step in your career, and the level of commitment just isn’t there – oftentimes on both sides.

    If you’re finding yourself having an exceptionally hard time getting through to your agent, your enthusiasm for the relationship isn’t what it used to be, and the idea of a fresh start with someone who really shares your passion for your work is appealing, it might be time to think about making a switch. It’s a big decision, and not one to be taken lightly, but sometimes it’s best for your career.

  3. Yes, I agree – the author/agent relationship is all about communication. We are all busy but if one of my clients calls me or emails me, you can be sure I’ll get back to them as soon as possible. Even on vacation:-) That’s what is great about having an agent – WE CARE. That’s the definition of a relationship – and if you feel your agent is not responsive, it might be time to change.

    However, I once heard an author say she wanted to change agents, and I asked her, Why? Because, she said – she’s a bad agent. All I’m getting is rejection letters! That, I informed her, is the definition of a great agent – one who is working to get you published!

    Do give it a last shot before you start thinking about making the change. Sometimes communication is all that is needed.

  4. Kimberley Cameron nails it — from an author’s perspective, the key is communication, fast and accurate. If they are doing their job well, authors WILL get rejections, and perhaps a lot of them. The agents’s job is to present, present, present . . . and eventually, with enough patience and knowledge of the agent Rolodex, land the deal. But staying in touch constantly with the author–on whatever level the author needs–is critical. If an authors goes months at a time without hearing from the agent–or sends an email or makes a call that doesn’t get returned, time to move on.

    Oh, also, buy the author dinner when he or she is in New York. I love that part 🙂

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