View Full Version : How much is an agent allowed to charge for administrative fee?

hollywood john
02-13-2006, 06:21 PM
I received a contract from an agent. The agent charges $750 for administrative fee: postage, copying, messenger service, etc. Is this legal? Can an agent charge this upfront fee? I read writers market book and queried an agent whom I thought is legitimate.

02-13-2006, 06:40 PM
Oh, it's probably legal if you agree to it. What it isn't, is ethical or standard or in agreement with the code of ethics for the Association of Authors' Representatives (http://www.aar-online.org/mc/page.do).

Have you checked this purported agent through the Bewares board here, through Preditors & Editors (http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/) or through Writer Beware (http://www.sfwa.org/beware/)?

It seriously sounds as if this is someone you need to run away from, and if the above boards don't have any information about him/her, you should probably supply them with some.

I've been with my agent since 1982. In that time, I have on a very few occasions asked for a special service (Please make these copies for me so I don't have to pay postage on them, too; please overnight that to me because I'm leaving town day after tomorrow). In all that time, the total has been somewhere around a hundred dollars. In each instance the charge was minimal, and was itemized and deducted from my next royalty statement, and in each instance the charge was made only for something I requested that was out of the norm for the agency's standard cost of doing business.


Albedo of Zero
02-14-2006, 12:40 AM
Post the agent's name in the Bewares forum. Victoria S, UJ and Cathy C give great advice on the whos, whys and whynots.

Remember above all...the money flows to the writer.

02-14-2006, 01:45 AM
Sure, it's LEGAL. It's LEGAL to ask you for a million dollars and then never do anything for you. It's LEGAL to ask you for your house--but you shouldn't give it to them.

I'd never pay anything upfront, and most agents only charge expenses against advances and royalites they receive when they have sold the book. And those expenses are accounted for on a line-item basis. "Adminstrative fees" are not legitimate.

Has the agent in question made sales to legitimate houses? I'd be surprised.

In any case, $750 is huge, and $750 upfront smacks of Scam City.

I recommend two steps. First, report this agent to Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors ASAP (though I have to say you are quite likely to find the agent's name listed at those sites already). Second, run like hell.

PS. Being listed in "Writer's Market," or any other list of agents, doesn't prove anything. Even some AAR members have engaged in some pretty damn questionable practices.