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Does this agent's contract need to be negotiated?


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#1 newbie7

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 06:30 PM

Hi all,

 

I've received an offer of representation from an agent I'd like to work with, but her contract has some specifications that I'm not sure I fully understand.  Here they are:

 

1.  Contract says:  "We agree to counsel and advise you with respect to the further development and completion of the Work, to use our best efforts to place the Work for publication with a publisher acceptable to you, and to exploit and turn to account such other publication and subsidiary rights in and to the Work as may be appropriate under the circumstances including self-publishing.  We shall have the right to use and/or employ sub-agents and corresponding agents for such purposes, and we shall be solely responsible for any commission or other compensation due them."

 

My question:  what does this imply? If she isn't able to sell the book to a publisher after 6 months, I would like to have the option to self-publish on my own if I wish, and I would think in that case, the agent should not receive a percentage.  Your advice?

 

2.  Contract says:  "In addition to the aforementioned commissions, we shall have the right to be reimbursed out of monies received on your behalf for the following expenses when incurred on your behalf: photocopying, unusual (we cover local submission expenses) shipping by Federal Express or messenger, bank wiring fees if any, faxes and overseas postage in connection with submissions for foreign sales, long distance telephone calls, and copies of the published book when purchased by us for subsidiary rights submissions, and other similar and related charges.  Before any charges beyond $200 are incurred, the agency will obtain your written approval."

 

My question:  does this reimbursement apply if there is no sale?

 

3.  Contract says:  "Either of us shall have the right to terminate this agreement by written notice to the other party in the event the Work has not been placed for publication with a publisher acceptable to you within twelve (12) months from your submission to us of your completed proposal or manuscript (as the case may be)."

 

My question:  12 months seems long.  Is this industry standard?

 

Thanks, all!

Newbie7



#2 Guest_AWExley_*

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 07:18 PM

Hi all,

 

I've received an offer of representation from an agent I'd like to work with, but her contract has some specifications that I'm not sure I fully understand.  Here they are:

 

1.  Contract says:  "We agree to counsel and advise you with respect to the further development and completion of the Work, to use our best efforts to place the Work for publication with a publisher acceptable to you, and to exploit and turn to account such other publication and subsidiary rights in and to the Work as may be appropriate under the circumstances including self-publishing.  We shall have the right to use and/or employ sub-agents and corresponding agents for such purposes, and we shall be solely responsible for any commission or other compensation due them."

 

My question:  what does this imply? If she isn't able to sell the book to a publisher after 6 months, I would like to have the option to self-publish on my own if I wish, and I would think in that case, the agent should not receive a percentage.  Your advice? It's hard to tell without reading the contract in full, but it is not uncommon for agents to now receive 15% of self published titles. In some cases it is done collaboratively (agent helps find cover artist, editor etc) and in other cases it is 15% regardless of whether the agent does any work on those titles or not.  It would depend on what the rest of your contract states with regard to their commission.

 

2.  Contract says:  "In addition to the aforementioned commissions, we shall have the right to be reimbursed out of monies received on your behalf for the following expenses when incurred on your behalf: photocopying, unusual (we cover local submission expenses) shipping by Federal Express or messenger, bank wiring fees if any, faxes and overseas postage in connection with submissions for foreign sales, long distance telephone calls, and copies of the published book when purchased by us for subsidiary rights submissions, and other similar and related charges.  Before any charges beyond $200 are incurred, the agency will obtain your written approval."

 

My question:  does this reimbursement apply if there is no sale? Reading that, yip. They cover local expenses you cover the rest regardless of if the MS sells or not.

 

3.  Contract says:  "Either of us shall have the right to terminate this agreement by written notice to the other party in the event the Work has not been placed for publication with a publisher acceptable to you within twelve (12) months from your submission to us of your completed proposal or manuscript (as the case may be)."

 

My question:  12 months seems long.  Is this industry standard? I can't answer as to whether it is standard, but 12 months is not long given the rate at which publishing moves. I have heard of people on sub for 1-2 years before they move on to the next project.

 

Thanks, all!

Newbie7



#3 AQCrew

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Posted 29 August 2014 - 06:33 AM

 

2.  Contract says:  "In addition to the aforementioned commissions, we shall have the right to be reimbursed out of monies received on your behalf for the following expenses when incurred on your behalf: photocopying, unusual (we cover local submission expenses) shipping by Federal Express or messenger, bank wiring fees if any, faxes and overseas postage in connection with submissions for foreign sales, long distance telephone calls, and copies of the published book when purchased by us for subsidiary rights submissions, and other similar and related charges.  Before any charges beyond $200 are incurred, the agency will obtain your written approval."

 

 

We've seen this one -- a ton.  It's not a big deal.  They've capped it at $200 because they need your written consent before spending more.

 

The bigger issue is the murky #1.  We saw something on social media about an agent wanting 15% from one of her clients who had gone on to self-publish without terminating her agency contract.  Agents bring very little benefit to the self-publishing world (except maybe selling foreign rights).  The current self-publishing landscape is an extremely complex and intricate DIY process (which no longer means doing-it-all-yourself: it means knowing exactly who to pay for editing, cover design, and marketing, and how much to pay for those things along the way in order to make sure you cover your costs AND sell your book well) and the indie self-pubbing writers who have been inside the trenches for the past two years KNOW what this means...

 

And regarding #3, personally, we'd never sign a contract we couldn't terminate for any reason within 30 days notice by either party -- but we know why the agent is inserting this clause and giving themselves the 12-month window -- because it can take 2 months to prep a manuscript for submission (if the agent wants revisions) and then 3-6 months to hear back from all the editors.  

 

You can try to negotiate some of these terms, but this agency might not want to work with you without these clauses.  So you're going to be left struggling to decide how much you want to go out on submission to these editors through this agency.

 

Before signing anything, you should ask your potential agent when they plan to submit to editors.  The Fall submission window is right around the corner.  If they're planning to wait for any reason, you should know this... otherwise, your agent should be planning to submit well before Thanksgiving.  That means, you're going to burn through the first 6 months easily on submission, and then the next six months -- if things don't work out -- you're going to be spending writing a new manuscript to try again.  THEN, if things don't work out -- maybe, just maybe --  you'll spend another 6 months trying to educate yourself about the self-publishing maze (yes, it will take you that long just to try to figure out the basics).

 

So really, what's at stake here... ? So long as you terminate your agency contract if things don't work out on the traditionally side -- if and when -- you choose to flip over and become indie?



#4 Litgal

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Posted 30 August 2014 - 06:06 PM

 

The bigger issue is the murky #1.  We saw something on social media about an agent wanting 15% from one of her clients who had gone on to self-publish without terminating her agency contract.  Agents bring very little benefit to the self-publishing world (except maybe selling foreign rights).  The current self-publishing landscape is an extremely complex and intricate DIY process (which no longer means doing-it-all-yourself: it means knowing exactly who to pay for editing, cover design, and marketing, and how much to pay for those things along the way in order to make sure you cover your costs AND sell your book well) and the indie self-pubbing writers who have been inside the trenches for the past two years KNOW what this means...

 

 

I was just on the phone with a friend who is a multi-published romance author this morning (traditionally published) and she was saying that agents are trying to put clauses in their contracts so that they get paid their percentage on self-published work during the term of the contract. This is, of course, outrageous. But hey, they are trying it on.  Seeing who will sign such a contract.  I suspect those clauses will be struck out right and left by authors.


Lit. (aka Sophie Perinot)




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