Agents, Danielle Smith, what are you all thinking?

  • So I was debating about bringing up a tough topic here but... what’s the point of these forums, after all? I know a lot of the discussion is happening on Twitter, but sometimes I like the option of reading and writing comments that aren’t limited to however-many characters.

    For those not in the know, here is an article talking about the issue:

    Or check out the hashtag #daniellesmith on twitter.

    For me, it’s been pretty jarring because I’ve felt like working toward finding an agent is the next step for me in illustration. So on the one hand, hearing stories like this is scary. Signing with an agent requires a HUGE amount of trust and I think a lot of people take for granted that they deserve that trust—and since we feel like small fish in a big sea, we feel like we have to take what we can get.

    On the other hand, this might lead to a good time to be querying in some ways. It makes me more awake and aware of what I want and things to ask about before thinking about a contract. And agents of course will be looking for ways to be open and helpful to potential clients—at least I hope so.

    This also seems to be opening up the issue of kid lit being a “small world” where they say it’s easy to get “blacklisted”. “Don’t talk bad about an agent/editor, it’s a small world and nobody will want to work with you after that!” That’s all well and good for avoiding obnoxious clients, but on the other end, what about authors/illustrators who have a legit bad experience? How do they talk about it without closing doors? I don’t know the solution, but people are talking about it, and that’s at least a first step.

    Anyway. I don’t have anything in particular to add, I was just curious about the thoughts and feedback of my friends here. 😊

  • Moderator

    @sarahluann Thanks for posting this! I had not known about it. I don't have an agent, but I know that I will need one soon. I liked the advice that you gave to @Teju-Abiola, in her post "An Agent Contacted Me, HELP!", about requesting if you could contact a few of the agents current clients. If they are cool with that, then that's a good sign.
    This scam definitely is an eye opener though. There is always that one bad fish that fouls the waters. Ugh.

  • @sarahluann That would be a HORRIBLE experience!!! Thats so messed up she messed with these people!

  • Pro SVS OG

    Can anybody advance an idea about why she did what she did? As I understand it, she had absolutely nothing to gain from “inventing” unexistant offers. She most definitely didn´t earn any money (an agent only earns anything if a contract is finalized and paid for). She couldn’t claim any credits to her agency because she could not publish her fake offers (she would have been uncovered immediately). The only possible advantage is that she got to keep her client list longer - but what´s the point of a client list if you are not attempting to sell any of their assets?
    This makes so little sense that it smells of mental problems to me I would be careful with bashing her. I also don’t think that something so weird can possibly be an issue to look out for. The worst thing an agent can do to you is still not sell or promote your work...

  • @smceccarelli Agreed. Mental illness.

  • SVS OG

    @smceccarelli That's the impression that I got too, that it didn't seem like Danielle had anything to gain from her behavior. Maybe there is more to the story. But I did see a lot of other agents at the time being super supportive and asking her clients to please contact them. That was really nice to see.

  • To me the important question isn't why she did it or what she had to gain. I'm not interested in mud-slinging. That is in the past.

    The important question is, as a creative who might work with an agent, what can we learn? How can we avoid getting stuck in this kind of a situation? Something on this scale might be rare, but it still bears thinking about. What, as an industry, can we do to not only support her former clients (as mentioned, people have been doing great at that) BUT ALSO to make a way for people to speak up if something like this were to happen again, or otherwise prevent it from happening again, or going on so far/so long?

    I guess these are all big questions that nobody can really answer. I believe its at least good to make sure people are aware so they can make thoughtful decisions, and also discuss things as (hopeful) members of this industry and try to do things better if we can.

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