Q: What happens if my agent doesn’t like my second book?

This is a common question, fear and concern for many writers.

You finally get an agent after all your searching. Your first book either 1) sells or 2) doesn’t sell.

In situation 1) you’re in a good position because you might see the direction your writing is moving in to be a commercial success. Continuing on the path of what is successful is a smart career move.

In situation 2) things get complicated because you might want to try a different genre or have cold feet about the direction you want to move in.

Most agents want to work with writers for their careers, however, we don’t always fall in love with our clients’ body of work. It’s heart breaking for everyone involved because of the close relationship and the effort that has gone into working on the first project together.

You can:

  • Get a second agent for the body of work in a different genre if your first agent does not represent it.
  • You can shelve the project that your agent doesn’t like and start again.
  • Or you can leave your agent and search for a new one because it isn’t the right fit.

It’s a precarious situation, but don’t feel alone, this happens more frequently than one might think. Things happen for a reason so don’t fight the direction that your career is moving in or the new direction it is carrying you in. If you are unhappy with your agent relationship because it isn’t a match don’t stick with it for too long.

Alternatively, many agents ask for a brief, outline or synopsis so they can see where the second book is going and step in if need be.

Agent/client relationships are complex and get more complicated as the years go on together. It might not be a fairy tale relationship (though it’s nice when it is!), but you have to evaluate if it’s right for you.

Published by Carly Watters

Carly Watters is a SVP, senior literary agent and director of literary branding with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial and upmarket fiction, select literary fiction, platform-driven non fiction and select memoir. She occasionally represents children's book projects. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

3 thoughts on “Q: What happens if my agent doesn’t like my second book?

  1. Great advice! I was super nervous about sending in my second project because it was SO different from my first. I actually considered not sending it at all, but I did, and it has done great! So glad I didn’t chicken out! :)


    1. It’s worth a shot! Remember, if your agent loves your first book the chances are they’ll love your second because they signed you for your writing. But writing can move in different directions so communication with your agent is key!


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