Thursday, November 15, 2018

When Having an Agent Is Not a Good Thing...



When Having an Agent Is Not a Good Thing

By Shaila Abdullah

In 2007, I was a new author basking in the glow of the success of my first self-published book – a collection of short stories, that had won several awards and some serious press. My head was full of ideas for my next book.

After completing the manuscript of my literary novel, I started shopping it around. Imagine my delight when several agents showed interest in it. I soon landed an agent at a very reputable New York agency with a proven track record. The young agent I signed up with was enthusiastic at the prospect of selling both my collection and the new novel I was working on. His head was full of ideas, but then came a series of “but firsts.”

The first few rounds of editing were easy until a bombshell dropped. A senior agent at the agency quit and the bulk of that agent’s high profile clients came to the junior agent who suddenly lost all interest in me. He was no longer as responsive as he used to be, and it would take him days to respond to simple requests. After a few months of dodging my requests to seek updates, he hired an intern to work with me on doing the rest of the revisions. In a few days, I received a marked up copy from the intern that involved cutting 30 percent of my manuscript – to the point that pivotal moments in the story no longer made any sense.

I put my foot down and refused to do those edits. The intern quickly backed off and the junior agent took charge again. After a few rounds of reasonable revision requests, I was promised that my book would be shopped around, except it never was. I was told it would be presented at book shows and that too never happened. After 18 months of waiting for my agent to fulfill his side of the obligations, I decided it was time to leave. I thanked him graciously and bowed out of the relationship. 

Two months after that, I sold my novel to a reputable small traditional publisher by the name of Loving Healing Press. This publisher works one-on-one with me, treats me with respect, values my opinion, believes in my marketing strategies, and puts money behind my efforts. It all paid off.Saffron Dreams which was published in 2009, garnered some serious reviews and received several national and international awards. It was cited as one of “50 Greatest Works of Immigration Literature” by Open Education Database. More than eighteen universities in the United States are presently teaching the book and an abridged version of the book is slated to come out next year.

In 2014, researchers from Washington and Lee University used an excerpt of Saffron Dreams to show that reading literary fiction like my novel can actually make someone less racist. The study was published in Basic and Applied Social Psychology. Interestingly enough, the passage that was selected for the study was one that my agent’s intern had marked for deletion.

I leave the moral of the story to your imagination.

Noted as “Word Artist” by critics, Shaila Abdullah is an award-winning author and designer based in Austin, Texas. She is the author of five books and has designed websites, book covers, book layouts, and marketing collaterals for over 60 authors, writers, poets, and speakers. You can learn more about her work at and

Thank you all for visiting with us. It’s always a pleasure to meet readers and authors. Until next month, every one please stay safe. Smile. Be happy. Show compassion. Be nice to others. Put a little love into your heart. Please speak up for those without a voice, whether it be a dog, cat, elephant or monkey. One person, one voice can make a difference. Read a book and pass it on. Leave a review. Reviews are important for authors. Believe me. I know. Thank you!
S. J. Francis, Writing is my passion, but animals are my world. 
Advocate for the underdog, and cat, and supporting writers, et al.
In Shattered Lies: "It's All About Family." Available now from Black Opal Books and for sale at all on-line retailers and independent booksellers.

   Shattered Lies is a winner in the Fall 2016 NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards.         
                      Shattered Lies is a runner-up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Best Book Award Competition.

                     Shattered Lies is a 2016 Reader's Favorite Honorable Mention in the Fiction - Women’s category.  

                     Shattered Lies was a Finalist in the 10th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards.

                     Shattered Lies was chosen as General Fiction Official Selection in the 2015 New Apple Book Awards.

                     The first, original book cover design for Shattered Lies was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Authors dB Best Cover Contest?.

                     The Second Current book cover deign for Shattered Lie was a Finalist in the 2016 AuthorsdB Best Cover Contest.

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And now for some legal stuff: Copyright 2018 by S.J. Francis. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, S. J. Francis and the guest author and are meant to entertain, inform and enlighten, and intend to offend no one.