Tip of the Day: Check out this funny list of common break-up lines and their agent rejection equivalent.
A friend recently asked me how to go about breaking up with her agent. I broke up with an agent once a couple of years ago. It's not fun. Even though technically your literary agent "works for you" and dropping an agent shouldn't be any harder than say, getting rid of your Realtor who hasn't sold your house in six months, it is. Breaking up with your agent sometimes feels like breaking up with a friend or a boyfriend. You're nervous, you don't know how to break the news, you have to give back his CDs and Varsity jacket. :-) It can be awful. But if you really feel like your author-agent relationship isn't working (lack of communication, lack of sales/or publisher contacts, or maybe the passion is gone for your work), then it's time to break up.
So how do you go about breaking up? Well, I can tell you, don't tweet, facebook, or text the news. The best thing to do is first check your agent-author agreement and see what it says as far as terminating the relationship. There may be a clause in there that says you have to give 30-day notice. And if it says that, be sure that you don't start querying new agents before that time period expires. (And note: NEVER query a new agent while still in a relationship with your old agent. Like with boyfriends, that's not cool!). Then the next best thing to do is call your agent and have a talk. Again, like boyfriends, there's a chance your agent is already feeling the same way. After that, put it in writing. Some people like to send a registered letter to have a paper trail. Some like to send a simple e-mail and get confirmation that it was received.
And regarding the termination wording? Keep it short and simple. Don't go off on a tirade on what isn't working in the relationship. Thank your agent for the work they've done for you. Even if you're not happy at the moment, your agent has worked hard for you and if there hasn't been any sales well then all that work has been for free so far. Thank him or her. Then, tell the agent that your relationship isn't working out and briefly mention why if you'd like. But I'm serious when I say be brief. Something like, "due to the communication issues we've had I feel it's time that we part ways." After that be crystal clear in your letter's intent. Something like, "This letter serves as termination of our agreement." would work. And then end the letter simply after that. Wish your agent well and sign off.
Hope this has been helpful! If you have questions put them in the comments and I'll answer as best as I can.
Kristina, Miss Author in Action