You’ve queried agents and hooked the attention of one. He wants you to sign an exclusive contract to get the ball rolling. Have you, however, done a thorough check on him via his web site, as well as researched Preditors and Editors, and, or AbsoluteWrite? Do you know the titles of books he sold to commercial publishers in the last twelve months whether fiction or non-fiction? Does he have a list of current clients?
These and other checks should be done to assist you to make an informed decision, as you will be bound to that agent for the duration of the contract. The agreement should outline each other’s expectations. For instance, what the fees are, i.e. 15% domestic sales and, or 20% foreign sales. How will payment be made and what are the conditions should either of you decide to cancel the contract.
Here are 5 things to know before signing a contract with an agent:
- Ensure there is a time line, for example 3 months or 6 months. It’s not wise to be locked in any longer than 6 months, especially if the agent is not getting any joy in procuring a publisher for your book. Conversely, you want to give the agent enough time to negotiate with publishers. In addition, he may require rewrites from you, or suggest you get your book professionally edited.
- Ensure the rights the agent will market are crystal clear. Reason being, some agents only work with book publishers, while others who work with film and television will place their effort towards getting your book optioned; some agents work in all three areas, as well as with sub-agents.
- An agent may ask for the rights to market all future writings. Be diligent with your research and look for evidence that the agent is capable, and has been successful in this area before making a decision to give up all rights.
- Establish how often the agent will liaise with you with feedback. Some agents use a standard template report; others are happy to call you at an agreed time.
- Ascertain how the agreement can be cancelled by you and the agent. If the agent isn’t upholding her side of the contract, you want the opportunity to move on.
Occasionally, a work for hire contract will come into play. This essentially means giving up all rights to the publisher or agent, and you will receive one payment. You will not be eligible to receive royalties from book sales. In addition, you cannot sell your work again.
If you have any doubts, don’t sign the contract. Enlist the services of a solicitor/attorney skilled in this area first.
Write It, Work It, Publish it!
© 2011 Cherry-Ann Carew
Cherry-Ann Carew, aka The Power Writing Coach, Editor, Founder of Writetastic Solutions and best-selling author, helps fiction and non-fiction writers with their creative expression to add value to their books. Learn how her coaching and editing services can help you with your book at www.writetasticsolutions.com.