The Moment I Let Agent 4 Go: At one point, my publisher had asked if I’d write a short story for their website as a freebie for readers, a promotional incitement. They were willing to pay me three thousand dollars for it. So I did. If you don’t know much about the story market, back in Fitzgerald’s day a writer could do very well with short stories, but those days have gone with the wind. Three thousand dollars for eight thousand words and somehow it would help promote my work? I was all for that. My publisher was so thrilled with the story I wrote, they said it was almost too good for the site - !!! – but they did very much want to use it. Then my agent asked to see the contract. Agent 4 decided that the clause in it concerning electronic rights was unacceptable and, without consulting me, told the publisher they could stick it, that they couldn’t have my short. When I asked Agent 4 what to do about my story, I was immediately assured, “Oh, don’t worry. We’ll place it and for far better terms than that.” But would those terms include three thousand dollars, I wondered, for a story that had taken me approximately eight hours to write? Still, I trusted Agent 4, so. Several months went by. One day, we were on the phone going through a laundry list of stuff we needed to get through, when I remembered to ask about the story. Agent 4: What story? I explained. Agent 4: But didn’t you sell that to RDI? Me: No, because you told them they couldn’t have it. Agent 4: Oh. Then Agent 4 proceeded to explain how, over time, Agent 4 had come to realize that no other clients objected to the clause Agent 4 had found problematic and that Agent 4 had in fact brokered several deals for other clients to sell shorts for the website. Of course, in my case, the cultural moment – the moment at which one of my stories was worth three thousand dollars because it could be used to cross-promote a book that was just coming out – had long since passed. Agent 4 turning down a contract without consulting me first, then forgetting all about the promise to place the story elsewhere (“for even more money!”), and then going on to get similar plum deals for other clients – it was all too much for me. It was time for Agent 4 to pass also, into my past.