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PeteDutcher
10-31-2013, 06:28 PM
I have publishers calling me periodically to get me to commit to publishing my current project through them. These are traditional publishers.

I do not have an agent. There is one I prefer, but at this point I'm wondering if a simply attorney would be better (which I have access to).

An agent is supposed to find a publisher. That's how they earn their money, right? That and contract negotiations? But if the publishers are already calling me, and I have an attorney who can review any contracts, why bother with an agent?

My project is not even complete yet. Apparently my previous work is garnering me much attention. I am getting calls every other month for companies. I'm a slow writer (very detail oriented) and I keep telling them I do not want to commit until the novel is done. I've even told them that is a 140,000 word novel. At first I wasn't even giving them the name. Now they've gotten it out of me.

And that seemed to get them so excited they wanted more details. I gave as little information as I could because I don't want to lose my "mojo" so to speak.

Truthfully it's a little irritating getting these calls. Never thought I would say that, but there it is.

Maryn
10-31-2013, 06:41 PM
Can you define for me what "traditional publishers" means to you? Are these commercial publishers who pay you an advance against anticipated sales, and after you earn out the advance, you receive royalties?

I ask because it's quite unusual, to my understanding, for commercial publishers to be phoning authors eager to publish their work. It's typical for publishers who are paid by the author.

Maryn, both curious and a wee bit nosy

JulianneQJohnson
10-31-2013, 07:06 PM
I think having an agent is a good thing, even with an offer on the table. Agents are the most knowledgeable about getting you the best deal possible, which is not really a lawyer's bailiwick. There's stats available, on websites which I have forgotten, that show that having an agent tends to pay for itself, because they get a better deal for the author, which pays their 15%.

If you have a deal on the table by a respected trade publisher, then you should reflect that in your query, and you are likely to get an agent's attention.

I'd like to know the answer to Maryn's question as well. If we are talking deal with an advance from a fair sized publisher, that's quite different from deal with little or no advance from smaller publisher.

You have to make your own decision, of course, but I would not want to go into deal negotiations without an agent watching my back.

PeteDutcher
10-31-2013, 07:32 PM
Can you define for me what "traditional publishers" means to you? Are these commercial publishers who pay you an advance against anticipated sales, and after you earn out the advance, you receive royalties?

I ask because it's quite unusual, to my understanding, for commercial publishers to be phoning authors eager to publish their work. It's typical for publishers who are paid by the author.

Maryn, both curious and a wee bit nosy

That is exactly what I mean. I know it's unusual. But it is happening. Thomas/Nelson for example.

There were a couple vanity press companies in the beginning. But they no longer call because I told them I was not interested.

I'm assuming it is my previous work that got their interest, because I am easily contacted and I have put several "glimpses" into the novel on the net...like a few paragraphs here and there on my blog or facebook. Maybe they saw that. I don't really know for certain what led these publishers to call. There are three of them that are "traditional".

Traditional meaning I pay nothing at all to be published in print and ebook form (my other stuff I self published in ebook form).

PeteDutcher
10-31-2013, 07:36 PM
JulianneQJohnson, I have received no offers. I have stopped the conversations myself before they got that far, if they were going that direction.

It seems more like they are checking the progress so that they can get early looks at the finished product.

My previous work I did submit to agents. Although I did not receive offers of representation on that work, I did have a couple agents tell me it was okay to send full manuscripts instead of partials or queries from now on.

Most complemented my writing style.

Personally, I think my previous works are horrible compared to my most recent project...but then I suppose everyone feels that way about their early work.

EDIT:
I'm always polite. I just make it clear that I prefer not to discuss any deals until after the work is finished.

Maryn
10-31-2013, 07:42 PM
[Maryn tips her hat to any person who is always polite. Excellent!]

Quickbread
10-31-2013, 07:55 PM
Having publishers contact you is a terrific position to be in. But if it were me, I wouldn't want to commit to any editor/publisher without a finished project, especially without an agent. What if they lose interest, or the manuscript doesn't match the expectations they had when they floated the offer? What if you could've gotten a bigger and better house (and a better deal) if you'd had an agent by your side submitting to a curated list of editors on your behalf? Those are just a couple of reasons I'd politely say "thanks but not yet." If it were me, of course.

Kerosene
10-31-2013, 08:23 PM
Look up those publishers in the Bewares section here and make sure they check out. If they are a vanity publisher, I would stay clear.
Yeah, with Maryn. It's kinda odd for a decent publisher to be nipping at your heels if you haven't seriously published (though, I'm unsure about this)

If you do have a serious publisher after you, if I was you I'd get an agent. Agents aren't just to get your book out there, they are also there to be the wiser middle man in the process. A specialized lawyer will see you in the middle, but you have to pay out of pocket and pay for each and every session. An agent and writer have a partnership, and they don't get paid until you do. They can also work with you on your other projects. I think, not 100% sure, you can query an agent and specify that you have a publisher already lined up.


And, it's trade publishing. "Traditional" is a smear word.

Jamesaritchie
10-31-2013, 08:49 PM
Are these publishers the big boys, the ones who won't even read a query unless it comes from an agent? These are the publishers agents can get you in.

And an agent does a heck of a lot more than finding you a publisher and negotiating the contract. This is where an agent's work really begins, not where it ends.

Corinne Duyvis
10-31-2013, 08:59 PM
Agents don't just sell your work or make sure your contract doesn't screw you over--they'll guide your career in the right direction, negotiate higher advances, etc. I had a deal on the table, then went to an agent, and she negotiated a much better advance and rights arrangement--like someone elsewhere said, they pay for themselves.

Also, they also know the ins and outs of publishers and editors, and can thus make sure you end up with the best fit. They'll know if a publisher is having money issues and hasn't been paying authors as regularly, or which publishers are most reliable when it comes to marketing, which editors might be a good personality fit for you, etc.

In addition, they'll act as the bad guy on your behalf if you run into any issues with your publisher. That keeps the relationship between you and your editor squeaky clean.

So... yes, definitely get an agent. Particularly since your situation is pretty unusual. With an agent on your side you can feel more confident that everything is on the up-and-up.

Little Ming
10-31-2013, 09:27 PM
I have publishers calling me periodically to get me to commit to publishing my current project through them. These are traditional publishers.

I do not have an agent. There is one I prefer, but at this point I'm wondering if a simply attorney would be better (which I have access to). Make sure it's a literary attorney. Other members here have hired general contracts attorney, and usually they can tell you if a contract is legal, but not if it conforms to industry standards, whether the clauses are more weighted to one party (usually the publisher) or any other fine print clauses that literary attorneys and agents will be able to catch immediately .

Here's a thread (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=279734)where another author had an attorney look at their contract, but the attorney missed that the contract was heavily in favor of the publisher.

An agent is supposed to find a publisher. That's how they earn their money, right? That and contract negotiations? But if the publishers are already calling me, and I have an attorney who can review any contracts, why bother with an agent? Well agents do a lot more than just find the publisher and the contract. ;) Do you know how to negotiate foreign rights? Media rights? Translations? What happens if something goes wrong with your publisher? Delays in production? What if you don't get along with your editor? Late royalty payments? Accounting errors? Breach of contracts? What if you want to terminate the contract? Will you be hiring an attorney every time something goes wrong? Not saying all these things will go wrong, but we have heard stories on these forums, and that includes the trade publishers too. ;)

Here's another author (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=276130) who signed a contract with his publisher ended giving up 50% of his foriegn royalties to the domestic publisher.

My project is not even complete yet. Apparently my previous work is garnering me much attention. I am getting calls every other month for companies. I'm a slow writer (very detail oriented) and I keep telling them I do not want to commit until the novel is done. I've even told them that is a 140,000 word novel. At first I wasn't even giving them the name. Now they've gotten it out of me.

And that seemed to get them so excited they wanted more details. I gave as little information as I could because I don't want to lose my "mojo" so to speak.

Truthfully it's a little irritating getting these calls. Never thought I would say that, but there it is.

I don't think everyone needs an agent, and there are many members who do very well on their own. But it is important to know what an agent does for you, and whether you want to take on that responsibility yourself, or hire a literary attorney every time.

Good luck and congrats! :partyguy:

PeteDutcher
10-31-2013, 09:53 PM
Great advice, all! Thank you.

Siri Kirpal
10-31-2013, 09:56 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Don't have an agent yet. But I think the ladies you're explaining why you'd want one in this situation are correct.

Congrats on the interest! Use it!

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Old Hack
10-31-2013, 11:39 PM
Agents do far more than find deals for their clients.

They also negotiate the contracts for those deals, ensure those contracts are kept to, and ensure that payments are made accurately and on time.

They find foreign and subsidiary rights deals, they support, advise and encourage their author-clients, and if and when anything goes wrong they deal with the problems, leaving their author-clients free to get on with their writing.

If you're being approached by good publishers now, write down the contact names and let them know you'll get back in touch once your current book is written. And then, when it's written, find yourself an agent and hand the list of contacts over to her.

Fran
11-01-2013, 04:04 AM
I'm as yet unpublished, but I know if I had an offer from a publisher I would approach an agent. If you haven't read Miss Snark's now defunct blog, I recommend you give it a try. She says if you email her with the subject line Offer - Need An Agent she'd get back to you very quickly.

Obviously that does not apply to all agents. And you'd have to query agents who take your genre - you can't take a scattergun approach. As you've already been advised, look for a specialist publishing or entertainment lawyer. General contract lawyers don't always know what to look for. Run away from any publisher who prevaricates or just flat-out doesn't want you talking to an agent. Good luck, and I wish you lots of success.

Old Hack
11-01-2013, 12:38 PM
That is exactly what I mean. I know it's unusual. But it is happening. Thomas/Nelson for example.

It wasn't their WestBow imprint, was it? Because that is a vanity press (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=158608).

Captcha
11-01-2013, 01:29 PM
I have publishers calling me periodically to get me to commit to publishing my current project through them. These are traditional publishers.

I do not have an agent. There is one I prefer, but at this point I'm wondering if a simply attorney would be better (which I have access to).

An agent is supposed to find a publisher. That's how they earn their money, right? That and contract negotiations? But if the publishers are already calling me, and I have an attorney who can review any contracts, why bother with an agent?

My project is not even complete yet. Apparently my previous work is garnering me much attention. I am getting calls every other month for companies. I'm a slow writer (very detail oriented) and I keep telling them I do not want to commit until the novel is done. I've even told them that is a 140,000 word novel. At first I wasn't even giving them the name. Now they've gotten it out of me.

And that seemed to get them so excited they wanted more details. I gave as little information as I could because I don't want to lose my "mojo" so to speak.

Truthfully it's a little irritating getting these calls. Never thought I would say that, but there it is.

How are they getting your phone number?

Also, I don't see any of your previous work at a rank higher than a million on Amazon - this does not seem like a level of sales likely to gather attention from a reputable publisher. If you're being contacted based on those sales, I'd be suspicious.

PS - On your website, on the "Dutcher Publishing Company" icons, you're suggesting that people "Get Pubished". You might want to add an "L" to that word.

Barbara R.
11-01-2013, 03:24 PM
Hi Pete,

Yeah, I hate it when publishers keep banging on my door. So annoying.

And, well, unusual. I know agents who approach writers whose work they've come across in periodicals, or non-writers who've made major news in some form or another. I've never heard of traditional publishers doing it. They certainly don't troll the internet reading snippets of writers' w.i.p. Unless your self-published work is selling like 50 Shades of Gray, those wouldn't trigger any interest either. So I think you'd need to investigate these publishers very carefully and figure out what (if anything) they want to sell you. As Old Hack points out, even some major houses are starting vanity-press subsidiaries, though of course they don't call them that.

As for needing an agent, others have already pointed out the many services they provide apart from selling a book, starting with keeping writers from getting screwed (or trying to, anyway.) Publishers who work with both agented and unagented writers offer different contracts and terms to the latter; I've heard of some outrageous clauses. Agents are usually more on top of this stuff than lawyers, even entertainment lawyers. I've used the latter for movie deals, but not book deals--no need, in most cases.

Good luck with the upcoming book.

Cathy C
11-01-2013, 03:24 PM
Calling you on the phone seems a little weird to me, too.

But Little Ming has it right. Contract lawyers look at a single deal for legality. Agents look at the implications of the contract for your career.. I'd highly recommend signing on with an agent to help you sort out any offers you might get.

But I'd be concerned about any publishers who are calling you. That's not real normal unless you've queried them and have provided a contact phone.

Little Ming
11-01-2013, 09:35 PM
It wasn't their WestBow imprint, was it? Because that is a vanity press (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=158608).

Also keep in mind that even if a publisher is not vanity they can still offer you a horrendous contract. The new Random House digital imprint (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=265899) comes to mind. Also-also note that as horrendous as these contracts were, they were probably still legal, so a general contracts attorney would not have been helpful here.


(And I do suspect RH only sent out those contracts because these were unagented submissions and they thought authors would just be so happy no one would read the fine print... but that could just be me being cynical about the world. :Shrug:)

Barbara R.
11-02-2013, 02:26 PM
Also keep in mind that even if a publisher is not vanity they can still offer you a horrendous contract. The new Random House digital imprint (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=265899) comes to mind. Also-also note that as horrendous as these contracts were, they were probably still legal, so a general contracts attorney would not have been helpful here.


(And I do suspect RH only sent out those contracts because these were unagented submissions and they thought authors would just be so happy no one would read the fine print... but that could just be me being cynical about the world. :Shrug:)

No, that's you being realistic. Publishers do have different contracts for agented vs. unagented writers. They have done ever since I was an agent, decades ago. And why wouldn't they? Agents get better terms for their writers because agents in general have fought long and hard for those terms, not because publishers want to give them away.

triceretops
11-02-2013, 02:37 PM
No, that's you being realistic. Publishers do have different contracts for agented vs. unagented writers. They have done ever since I was an agent, decades ago. And why wouldn't they? Agents get better terms for their writers because agents in general have fought long and hard for those terms, not because publishers want to give them away.

Oh, you betcha they're different.

Corinne Duyvis
11-02-2013, 09:55 PM
I know agents who approach writers whose work they've come across in periodicals, or non-writers who've made major news in some form or another. I've never heard of traditional publishers doing it.

It does happen occasionally--it happened to me; my now-editor read a short story of mine online and wanted to see more of my work--but it's definitely rare.

Please let us know how this turns out, OP. I'm very curious. Good luck!

PeteDutcher
11-21-2013, 10:41 PM
It wasn't their WestBow imprint, was it? Because that is a vanity press (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=158608).

Yes, I know. Westbow called at first. However I made it clear I was not interested in a vanity solution.

Thomas/Nelson, which is operated seperately but owned by the same people, contacted me when an author friend asked my permission to show them a sampling of my work.

The others I have no clue...unless they've seen my postings on the net or my contest entries.

Maybe I'm just weird but I would rather not be bothered until I reach out myself with a finished project.

goddessofgliese
11-21-2013, 11:26 PM
I heard if you already got an offer from an publisher, you can skip the query process and call an agent directly to see if he/she is interested in representing you.

bearilou
11-21-2013, 11:39 PM
Pete, it's good you're proceeding cautiously and asking questions. Good luck to you, whatever avenue you decide to pursue.

Old Hack
11-21-2013, 11:49 PM
I heard if you already got an offer from an publisher, you can skip the query process and call an agent directly to see if he/she is interested in representing you.

You can.

You'd be better off emailing in your query with "OFFER RECEIVED FROM XXX" in the subject line. Agents are busy people, and can't usually drop everything to take a phone call, even if it's one of their better clients calling.