Famed literary agent Wendy Weil passed away recently, leaving behind a functioning agency with employees and clients who mourned her loss but also had to consider their future.
What becomes of an agency that is active, after the owner is gone?
Employees Emma Patterson and Emily Forland remained at their posts, to wind down agency business. As with any going concern, there were royalties to be collected and paid, along with the myriad other bills that come from normal operations.
More importantly were the clients who had lost a good friend and the person who represented their work to the publishers. No responsible agent would simply abandon the stable of writers, and it was up to the remaining agents to sort things out.
Once their work was done, Ms. Patterson and Ms. Forland sought a new home. They were not willing to take over the agency on their own, for any number of reasons. It is possible that they did not have the financial backing to purchase the firm outright, and they may not have the desire to run their own agency. Instead, they moved to Brandt & Hochman, planning to bring their clients with them.
The agency has now been sold to Paul Bresnick, but what exactly has he taken over from the Weil estate?
He is contacting Ms. Weil's clients, to introduce and sell himself, but there is no guarantee that the people who were comfortable with Ms. Weil will feel the same about Mr. Bresnick.
As the new man in the office, Mr. Bresnick is gambling on the loyalty of Ms. Weil's authors to her agency. He is taking a risk, one that may or may not pay off.
That's what owning a business is all about. You take your money, invest it, and if you're right, you succeed. If you're wrong, you're out the money.
If you do it right, you won't expand your way into alienating your old clients by not giving them enough attention as you look to charm the clients you acquired. If you do it wrong, you could lose everything that you've built up over the years.
Little wonder, then, that the ladies of the Wendy Weil agency chose not to take such risks. If you don't enough of a financial cushion to fall back on, the downside of such a deal could be devastating.