Skip to main content

Why Do Agents Have 30- or 60-Day Cancel Clauses?

I've always wondered the answer to this question, and it was answered over the weekend by an agent at the Writer's Digest Conference: The Business of Getting Published. What I'm talking about are cancellation clauses in agent contracts - meaning, if you want to end the relationship, they ask for one last stretch of time before the separation is official (usually 30 or 60 days).

So, my question was: Why? Let's say a writer calls up and says "I hate you. Let's end this thing, jerk. Commence Operation: Agent Splitsville." Why wouldn't an agent immediately respond, "YOU'RE the jerk, jerk-face! And, by the way, your comb-over is HORRIBLE," and sever their relationship right there?

Well, here's why: The agent may have work out to publishers! So simple. They don't want to submit your manuscript to editors and then have you cancel right in the middle of a deal. If the work is out to considering editors, agents want to chance to close the deal and get some moolah out of all the work they've invested thus far.

Image placeholder title

Want more on this subject?

Examples of Hooks for Books

60 Examples of Hooks for Books

This post collects 60 examples of hooks for books. Also called elevator pitches, these book hooks show real-life examples in a variety of writing genres for fiction and nonfiction books.

How To Turn Artifacts and Research Into a Family Memoir

How To Turn Artifacts and Research Into a Family Memoir

A century’s old family heirloom acted as a clue to the past for author Cornelia Maude Spelman. Here, she shares how to turn artifacts and research into a family memoir.

Miriam Parker: On Writing the Book You Want To Read

Miriam Parker: On Writing the Book You Want To Read

Author and publisher Miriam Parker discusses her surprise at writing her new novel, Room and Board.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 622

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a story poem.

7 Tips for Fictionalizing Real Historical Characters

7 Tips for Fictionalizing Real Historical Characters

When to retell history, when to imagine new scenarios, and who’s safe to use as a subject—author Gill Paul shares 7 tips for fictionalizing real historical characters.

A Thief in the Market

A Thief in the Market

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, someone is stealing from small business owners.

Auguries and Alchemy Pamona Sparrow

Auguries and Alchemy: Starting a New Publishing Company

Publisher Pamona Sparrow shares what inspired her to start her new publishing company, Auguries and Alchemy, and how to submit to your own magical stories.

Roselle Lim: On Resting in the Writing Process

Roselle Lim: On Resting in the Writing Process

Author Roselle Lim discusses the joys of getting older in her new novel, Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club.

How To Write and Research a Local History Book

How To Write and Research a Local History Book

Let award-winning writer Jennifer Boresz Engelking help you uncover local mysteries and put the puzzle pieces together when writing and researching a local history book.