View Full Version : Contract Red Flags

04-04-2012, 02:59 AM
An agent offered to represent me and sent the contract. Most of it sounded standard, but two paragraphs are making me hesitate:

I have to pay for any expensives...photocopying, book purchases, etc

I must pay for any legal fees (suit, processing, claim, costs, expenses liability, or action of any nature)

Are these normal points I shouldn't be worried about?


Drachen Jager
04-04-2012, 03:09 AM
Expenses are often part of the contract. So long as they only come out of royalties and they are reasonable it's fine, perfectly normal.

Legal fees arising from what? Does it specify?

04-04-2012, 03:10 AM
Legal fees arising from the creation, marketing, and publication of my work(s).

Drachen Jager
04-04-2012, 03:52 AM
I know most publishers have that kind of language, so it doesn't surprise me.

You can't really expect the agent to pick up the tab if someone is suing you for copyright infringement. Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

04-04-2012, 04:02 AM
The way the paragraph is worded, they will hire their own lawyers. Even if the judge proves me innocent, I will still have to pay.

Drachen Jager
04-04-2012, 04:54 AM
Yeah, I find that odd that it's in the contract. I'd expect you to have to pay for the lawyers whether or not it's stipulated. Again, why should the agent pay because you wrote something libellous or that broke copyright? Some publishers say they'll pay the legal fees only if you're vindicated, but that's about as much protection as you can expect. Why would your agent even be in the mix? They're not responsible for the content, that's up to you and the publisher.

04-04-2012, 05:04 AM
My first contract stated the agent would not provide me with any legal counsel or representation arising from any law suits stemming from my work.

My first agent also gave me the option of providing five clean copies and postage so they could send out submission, or send them $125 for same.

I did the math. My book was near 600 pages. A ream of paper cost $9.95 back then so I would need 6 reams for about $60. A black ink cartridge back then was $19.95 and could do 500 pages, so again, I would need about 6 ink cartridges for $120 dollars. I never made it to figuring out the postage and sent her the $125.

I also checked around and she was and still is an agent and was told by other authors that her expenses were very reasonable.

As far as expenses go though, please make sure you are clear on what they consider expenses, like long distance calls, postage, and not taking an editor/girlfriend/boyfriend to lunch.

Old Hack
04-04-2012, 11:04 AM
Those expenses are very rarely charged to the author's account. This clause is almost always included in a contract, but isn't often acted upon.

And I can see the reasoning behind the legal clause too, but when my agents have got the lawyers in on my behalf in the past I've not had to pay for any of that (but then they did get me a settlement, so I think the lawyers' fees were added to that settlement).

Your first stop should be to speak to the offering agent about these fees and ask how often they make these charges, and how much they usually charge.

04-04-2012, 01:31 PM
Yeah, as I understand it the expenses thing is for anything that goes over whatever budget they assign to the book for marketing etc. It protects them from being forced to spend more than they intended to.

I agree you should query the specifics but don't worry too much about it unless the query reveals something suspicious.

Kasey Mackenzie
04-05-2012, 12:30 AM
I would not personally be concerned about those particular clauses provided the agent has an established track record of sales to legitimate publishers. My own agency very rare charges me expenses and even then it comes out of what my publisher pays me.

04-05-2012, 03:46 AM
They both sound a little odd to this newbie, but maybe not so if they have limitations placed on them. Such as a cap placed on the expenses, a discussion before they can continue past a certain amount, and list included in the contract as to what specific expenses they are talking about.

Also something similar with the legal fees, to make sure you get some say so before the costs start incurring.

It may be worthwhile to run this through a lawyer before you sign. And don't rely on someone's spoken definition and limitations. Make sure it's in print. This is just my two cents, not legal advice, so please take it such.

Hope that helps.