Dear Agent Manners:
I am breaking up with my old agent and looking for new representation. Just not a good fit. I have a book coming out in 2009 from a major publisher and my contract has an option for a second book. With a new agent, how would the option thing work? Am I still required to have the first agent shop my second book? And what do I need to let prospective agents know about my situation while they’re considering me for their client list?
Dear Moving On:
This is a situation to handle with delicacy and diplomacy. But, first, if there is an agent-author agreement, that needs to be reviewed to see if it addresses your question. In most cases, since the book contract is between the parties of the author and the publisher, the option language only applies to those parties who have counter-signed the agreement. Therefore, the prior agent does not have a continued interest, though they will continue to be the agent-of-record for the book they previously sold. The new book can be handled by a new representative, and, by all means, you should inform them that there is pending option language (and give them information as to the identity of your editor and publisher) as they will have to honor that before making any additional submissions. Hope that helps and best of luck!