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shelleyo
05-27-2014, 12:08 AM
MOD NOTE: I've peeled these comments out of the http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/misc/subscribed.gif Agents Attitude Towards Self-Published Novels (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=290619) thread in the Self Publishing room, which is why this thread now appears to start in the middle of the conversation. I couldn't add an introductory post to explain why so I've had to edit Shellyo's comment to add this note: I've not changed anything she said, though, so I hope she'll find that acceptable.

Old Hack


***



If you self publish, and your books sell very well, then it makes sound commercial sense to find a literary agent to help you along.

Literary agents are all set up to sell foreign and subsidiary rights, which is almost impossible for a self-published author to do for themselves.

Literary agents can find print deals for already-successful books, which enable their authors to establish a bookshop presence: this is far more significant than many people realise because so many books bought online are first selected in a physical bookshop, so it's not just print sales that this influences.


This is all important. I have seen people argue against agents, period, without taking things like foreign or movie rights into consideration. Yes, you can hire an IP lawyer to look over contracts and negotiate them yourself, but what are you going to do when you don't get that royalty statement from the foreign publisher like you're supposed to, or some other problem arises? If you had an agent, your agent would handle that type of thing for you. An agent, a good one, can almost certainly get you a better deal than if you negotiate yourself. They know the ins and outs.

Same with movie options, or reprints, or the many other potential sales that can crop up. A good agent knows his or her way around these things. Print deals get those books into the hands of readers you will never reach with ebooks or online in any way. I don't know enough about publishing to feel confident in negotiating a contract, even with an IP lawyer explaining it to me as if I were five.

I don't have the time or inclination to learn what really good, reputable agents have spent years learning. And even if I could absorb all that experience and knowledge quickly, that doesn't mean I'd be any good at their job. Personally, I would have an IP lawyer look over the agency contract before signing, and probably have him or her look over every other contract presented by my agent, as well. But that's me and my need to cover all the bases. I still don't think it's a bad idea in general, though.

Self-publishers don't need agents. But self-publishers who find commercial success, and/or who want to branch out beyond ebook success, will probably want a good one in their corner. The key to all this is a good, reputable agent. If you found their ad in the back of "Writer's Digest," you're doing it wrong.

Avatar_fan
05-27-2014, 01:28 AM
I'm going to have to disagree with you guys on the value of agents especially in this day and age with self publishing. Here's author Dean Wesley Smith's take titled Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Self Publishing #4 You Need an Agent to Sell Overseas (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=12760)

In short, with the Contact Me button on your author website, any editor from around the world can contact you and ask for translation rights. If you do get asked for translation rights, an actual lawyer with knowledge of contract law can negotiate for you.


So, the flat honest truth is that unless you are a major bestseller, your book is ignored. When you have all the writers from twenty or thirty agencies on a huge list the size of a small town phone book, trust me, only the top even get looked at. And there are no covers or blurbs. Just title and author name, and sometimes genre.

That’s another ugly truth about how most agents “respect” your work and try to sell it overseas. They will flat tell you they are trying to sell you book overseas, then give the name and author name to another agency, who will add it on a list to go along with thousands of others.


— Translation publishers see your book if you are publishing it in English around the world. There is no such thing as “selling” done by an agent. Your book sells itself and they find it because it’s out there. (And if agent tries to convince you they can “sell your book overseas” ask them for a list of their overseas partner agencies, or ask if they go through a “specialty agency” here in the states. Either way, the agent who is telling you he will sell the book is lying, flat out. They will not. Period. They will simply hand off your book to someone else and do NO work.)

BenPanced
05-27-2014, 02:01 AM
First, if you could fix your link. It loops back to the advance reply function for this thread and not the article you quote.

Second, contract law is not the same as intellectual property law. A contract lawyer can look at the slimiest book contract and find nothing wrong with it, whereas an intellectual property lawyer can look at the same contract and let you know which rights you're getting rooked on and how to negotiate better terms.

Third and fourth, those quotes sound like standard rote from somebody trying to whip up fear and paranoia in people who are looking to self-pub to avoid The Man and how The Man is only out to screw authors over. Until the link is fixed, I have to go with that context as presented.

Filigree
05-27-2014, 02:07 AM
Dean is a fine writer, a great teacher, and a wonderful evangelist for self-publishing. But I take any advice he gives on the latter with due skepticism. I've seen SP authors try to go the IP lawyer route to negotiate foreign and subsidiary rights...and be as badly taken as authors with incompetent agents who dropped the ball on those rights. Your IP lawyer has to be an expert at this game. So does your agent.

Not all agents are evil or incompetent. But most editors will be negotiating for terms that benefit their employers first, and the author second. There has to be mutual gain, for a strong relationship, but the publisher will try to guide the negotiations. Foreign markets often have quirks that non-native authors might not know. (For ex. I would not publish anything in China, Turkey, or the Indian subcontinent without a strong local agent who knew how to work within the current political climate.) Any self-pub author handling their own subsidiary rights negotiations has to understand the business *as well as an agent or an IP lawyer*. And not all of it is transparent or self-evident.

In manufacturing, outsourcing has gotten a bad rap for the abuses by large corporations shipping jobs overseas to cheaper workforces. But sometimes, outsourcing makes good business sense, and frees a company (or author) up to do what they do best.

Avatar_fan
05-27-2014, 02:12 AM
Woops, sorry guys. I fixed the link.

There's other interesting information on Dean's website. You might ultimately disagree with it, but it's always good to be introduced to differing viewpoints. As for me, I fully subscribe to Dean's point of view.

Polenth
05-27-2014, 02:16 AM
I'm going to have to disagree with you guys on the value of agents especially in this day and age with self publishing. Here's author Dean Wesley Smith's take titled Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Self Publishing #4 You Need an Agent to Sell Overseas (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=12760)

In short, with the Contact Me button on your author website, any editor from around the world can contact you and ask for translation rights. If you do get asked for translation rights, an actual lawyer with knowledge of contract law can negotiate for you.

I've never really understood the, "You don't need an agent! Hire a publishing lawyer!" Because they're both publishing contract specialists. If you acknowledge that a lawyer is helpful, you're acknowledging an agent is also helpful, because they will both negotiate contracts. The differences come down to things like how they're paid, what other services they provide, the convenience and stuff like that. Which means the best route will vary from author to author, depending on personal priorities.

(Assuming here in both cases you get a reputable lawyer/agent who knows their stuff... comparing a competent lawyer to a bad agent is obviously a silly comparison.)

Avatar_fan
05-27-2014, 02:33 AM
An agent though is not a trained lawyer, and if you do get a contract, you'll need a lawyer anyways even if you do have an agent. Why does an author need that extra hanger on?

On Dean Wesley Smith's site, he has the history of how literary agents came to be in his article Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: You Need an Agent to Sell a Book (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?page_id=860).


Book agents came over from theater and movies from 1900-1950. They were used by fiction writers to help with the contracts, to get the books into movie and early television (in New York) and overseas, and to go get the coffee. They were simply a lower-level employee used by writers to do some of the busy work.

It never occurred to most fiction writers to have an agent sell a book for them except in very unusual circumstances. Writers worked directly with the editors, and the idea that anyone needed to be in the middle of that was just thought of as silly.

But then, as the industry got bigger through the baby-boom years, fewer writers lived near New York and thus mailing manuscripts to editors started to become the norm. Editors and writers still worked together, and the agent did the deal, negotiating the contract, helping with contacts overseas and in Hollywood. But up until the early 1990s, book deals between editors and writers were often done across a dinner table with a handshake, with the agent left to handle the calls with the contract department later.


Something had to be done to stop this massive wave coming at the money-worried publishers and overworked editors. So someone, somewhere, came up with the idea “Let the agents handle it.”

So onto the guidelines of every publisher went the simple line. “No unagented manuscripts accepted.” Even though most editors were still buying from writers without agents, or manuscripts from writers where the agent had not sent it in.

But every new writer believed that guideline, for some reason, without thought or reason or understanding of how publishing worked. Even editors at the time were surprised how well that one simple line worked to turn away the uninformed.

Old Hack
05-27-2014, 11:02 AM
I'm going to have to disagree with you guys on the value of agents especially in this day and age with self publishing. Here's author Dean Wesley Smith's take titled Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Self Publishing #4 You Need an Agent to Sell Overseas (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=12760)

In short, with the Contact Me button on your author website, any editor from around the world can contact you and ask for translation rights. If you do get asked for translation rights, an actual lawyer with knowledge of contract law can negotiate for you.

It's true that editors can contact you through your website. But that contact button won't go out and look for translation deals (and note that there are far more rights to be exploited than just translation rights); and while lawyers can tell you if a contract is legally acceptable they can't tell you if it's a good contract as far as publishing rights go, or if it's a good contract which will help further your career. Nor will they monitor the publisher and ensure they conform to the contract terms, or chase payments, for example. Agents do all these things and more for their author-clients.


Not all agents are evil or incompetent. But most editors will be negotiating for terms that benefit their employers first, and the author second. There has to be mutual gain, for a strong relationship, but the publisher will try to guide the negotiations. Foreign markets often have quirks that non-native authors might not know. (For ex. I would not publish anything in China, Turkey, or the Indian subcontinent without a strong local agent who knew how to work within the current political climate.) Any self-pub author handling their own subsidiary rights negotiations has to understand the business *as well as an agent or an IP lawyer*. And not all of it is transparent or self-evident.

Agreed.

I live in the UK, and in the late 1980s spent a lot of time negotiating contracts with other European countries. In theory all I had to do was work out how many copies were likely to be sold in each territory (I was licensing rights to computer games for the export market at the time, so slightly different to books, but there are still parallels), what the prices were in each territory, the discounts which were expected, and then come up with a good deal based on those figures; but those figures are only a starting-point.

There was a whole load of difference between the various markets, so much so that each new contract was a huge learning experience. I had to take all sorts of advice (luckily I had a huge legal department to refer back to), and all the deals I worked on were scrutinised by several people in our department, all of whom were very experienced and capable.

I really wouldn't have wanted to do that job without the backup I had there, and I don't think that backup could be replicated by a single lawyer. Agents work with subagents in each territory; they have specialist legal advice available; and they do this all the time. It's what they know. I don't think a lawyer is a real substitute for an agent.


An agent though is not a trained lawyer, and if you do get a contract, you'll need a lawyer anyways even if you do have an agent. Why does an author need that extra hanger on?

Agents aren't trained lawyers but they work with legal teams to ensure their contracts are enforceable.

If you have a good agent you don't need a lawyer too.

If you regard a literary agent as an "extra hanger on" then I suspect you aren't aware of all that a good literary agent will do for a writer.


Agents who don't believe in your book enough to sell it, but who will happily let you pay them perpetually if you want to self-publish it, aren't included in the group I consider to be good, reputable agents. I have serious problems with their business model, I think it's predatory and a clear conflict of interest, and I don't hold them up too much higher than outfits like Publish America and Author House.

There are scammy agents who encourage their authors to self publish, and then charge them for their services.

However, there are some very good agents who encourage their authors to self publish, and who provide excellent support during the process. Their authors end up publishing high-quality books--and you know better than most how much skill and expertise this takes. I used to take your view here: but now I think they can perform a useful service to their authors.

ElaineA
05-27-2014, 09:01 PM
I guess I'm feeling argumentative today but I'm having a great deal of trouble with the premise of "just get a lawyer." As if that doesn't come with a cost.

My husband's a lawyer, a dang good one. He can negotiate a hell of a contract. He can read one and tell where the odd bits are. But he doesn't know the specialty language. He'd learn it, and I'd get the service for free, but someone else wouldn't. So...hourly rate x hours = cash out the door. A good IP lawyer here in Seattle can't be had for under $300 per hour. NY and LA lawyers, where you're more likely to find an attorney who specializes in publishing? Try upward of $500 per hour.

Now I want to expand to other countries. I have to:
1) Find a reputable lawyer in said country and make contact

2) Pay reputable lawyer--(and if, for example, it's Euros, that's about 1.36 to the dollar today. GBP, 1.68)

3) Repeat for EVERY SINGLE COUNTRY in which I want to sell my book.


None of this comes free, and my time has value, too.

I just don't see how paying an agent to do all of this is such an injustice. :Shrug:

I'm all for SP--my ultimate dreamy dream is to be a hybrid author. But let's not make it seem like some sort of simple, low cost undertaking to take your SP book international. It certainly is not, not if you do it right.

Putputt
05-27-2014, 09:16 PM
I'm going to have to disagree with you guys on the value of agents especially in this day and age with self publishing. Here's author Dean Wesley Smith's take titled Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Self Publishing #4 You Need an Agent to Sell Overseas (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=12760)

In short, with the Contact Me button on your author website, any editor from around the world can contact you and ask for translation rights. If you do get asked for translation rights, an actual lawyer with knowledge of contract law can negotiate for you.

Tbh I'm not a fan of Hugh Howey for many reasons, but he's a known Ra-ra-self-publishing author, and in this interview (http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-hugh-howey-turned-his-self-published-story-wool-into-a-success-a-book-deal), he talks about why he decided to accept agent Kristin Nelson's offer for representation.


When [Kristin Nelson] got in touch with me, [Wool had become this breakout success and] I was turning away offers of representation. I just didn’t think I needed an agent because I was enjoying what I was doing in the U.S. and I was making enough to not need a day job. But she explained that I could … give the Hollywood market a much bigger attempt, and that I could attack the foreign markets. … Kristin has taken something that was doing really well domestically and expanded it in ways I never would have been able to.

Avatar_fan
05-27-2014, 10:43 PM
It's a conflict of interest because there's an inherent promise a literary agent will sell or try to sell the work. Self publishing by definition is not selling the work. An author could work years and years trying to get a literary agent only to self publish? With advances going down as well from trade publishers, a literary agent might want to cut the publisher out and advise the author to self publish instead if she sees commercial promise in the work. There's too many icky scenarios with literary agents acting as a publisher or "assisted self publishing," which is the same thing.

Also, to EleineA's concern, the Berne Convention means all contracts have to be done in your language and in your country's laws (with AW, most are Americans so American laws would apply).

Author Dean Wesley Smith explains it:


2… Generally, newer professionals do not know copyright, which means they do not understand that all contracts must be done in the language of the author. (Berne Convention) They think they are going to get something in Chinese or something. Learn copyright, people.

- See more at: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=12760#sthash.zwxJVnyt.dpuf

Old Hack
05-27-2014, 11:46 PM
Shelleyo, several of the agents I've seen offer self publishing services to their author-clients don't act in the way you describe.

They use their extensive contacts in trade publishing to put their authors in touch with good editors, good designers, good production people. They know of good formatters, printers, everything. Everything's done with the author, not the agent, as publisher. They don't charge upfront for these things: they usually take their 15% from the author's resulting income, but they do sometimes do all this for free because they recognise it helps establish their authors more firmly in the marketplace, and it benefits the books which do end up with trade publishers.

There are agents who have, in effect, formed a publishing house for their author-clients, and I'll agree that's a lot more problematical. But so long as everything is kept separate--the accounting, especially--and the authors make a properly-informed choice about signing up to this sort of deal, then it can be done ethically.

It isn't always, of course. But it can be, and in those circumstances I don't see a problem with it.


It's a conflict of interest because there's an inherent promise a literary agent will sell or try to sell the work. Self publishing by definition is not selling the work. An author could work years and years trying to get a literary agent only to self publish?

There is so much potential for a conflict of interests to arise when agents help their author-clients self publish, but it doesn't always happen.

And don't you think that an author would discuss the benefits and drawbacks of self publishing with her agent and with other appropriate people before going ahead? The writers I know are on the whole curious and opinionated (I first typed "a gobby lot" but felt that wasn't respectful enough, and so I deleted it) and do tend to research and read up. If they did that, and were sure that it was the right thing for them to do, do you still have a problem with that?


With advances going down as well from trade publishers, a literary agent might want to cut the publisher out and advise the author to self publish instead if she sees commercial promise in the work. There's too many icky scenarios with literary agents acting as a publisher or "assisted self publishing," which is the same thing.

I suspect that advances have fallen as low as they're going to, and are now on the way up again: the financial crisis was a few years ago, and things are improving.

Most literary agents I know would much prefer to get their clients a contract with an advance than to help them self publish and hope they'll sell enough copies to earn back their costs. Statistically, they're far more likely to earn a decent amount if their clients are with a trade publisher than if they self publish.


Also, to EleineA's concern, the Berne Convention means all contracts have to be done in your language and in your country's laws (with AW, most are Americans so American laws would apply).

I don't think Elaine's concerns were about the language a contract would be written in. It seemed to me that she was more concerned about finding publishers who wanted to license her foreign and translation rights from her, finding appropriate solicitors to help move that deal forward, and so on. But I'm sure she'll explain things to us if she wants to.


Author Dean Wesley Smith explains it:

Like David Gaughran, Wesley Smith is very biased, and has a definite agenda. You would be wise to find some other sources of information on the subject so that you can develop a more balanced view.

Avatar_fan
05-28-2014, 12:24 AM
There is so much potential for a conflict of interests to arise when agents help their author-clients self publish, but it doesn't always happen.

And don't you think that an author would discuss the benefits and drawbacks of self publishing with her agent and with other appropriate people before going ahead? The writers I know are on the whole curious and opinionated (I first typed "a gobby lot" but felt that wasn't respectful enough, and so I deleted it) and do tend to research and read up. If they did that, and were sure that it was the right thing for them to do, do you still have a problem with that?

Because of the conflict of interest, that agent can't be trusted and her advise is compromised. Just because it sometimes works out doesn't mean other writers won't get fleeced. As authors, we have to protect our fellow authors as much as possible. If we didn't do this, we'd still have reading fees as part of the agent game.

I want to quote Dean's article again about how agents "sell" foreign rights but his advise is apparently void because he has an "agenda." Even if he does have an agenda, at least it's as an author advocate as opposed to literary agents who are more concerned with convincing writers of their relevance in the self publishing world where they're not needed.

ElaineA
05-28-2014, 01:07 AM
First of all, Avatar_fan, your interpretation of what Smith said, and of my very general understanding of Berne Convention, doesn't seem quite correct, or at least seems a shortcut. The agreement protects your copyright under the country origin. With respect to copyright, the country of origin's laws apply. I am not at all clear on how copyright protection extends to the contents of contracts over a piece of copyrighted material, except as to the language in which it's written, and where there is no particular law (ie: trial vs. arbitration clauses) what law applies. I admit, I haven't read the Berne Convention agreement in detail, nor any of the amendments thereto.

The bottom line, and this is just me, is that I'm not putting my signature on a contract handed to me by someone without reading, understanding, and, if applicable, negotiating terms. I'm one who would be inclined to seek legal help at some point in the process. That costs money.

Just because an author on the internet says it's eazy peazy, doesn't mean it's so. In fact these points by your Mr. Smith seem to support my wariness (emphasis mine):

Step five… The editor will often ask for who your representative is. You write them back and say simply. “My attorney And from the minute I talk to my attorney, the clock is running. And if you are your own attorney, any mistakes will be your cost to bear. and I handle all translation sales.”

Step six… The editor will make an offer directly to you. You say you are interested depending on the terms. What are the terms? How will I know that those are fair terms in Paraguay? Sure the contract's in English, but I don't know the business practices of any one country necessarily. Now I've got to go do some research. Time and money.

Step seven… The editor e-mails you a contract, you check it for rights grabs, Another chunk of either my or my attorney's time for reading, understanding and possibly renegotiating. Time and money. sign it and e-mail it back.

- See more at: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=12760#sthash.zwxJVnyt.H0SQPBlm.dpuf

There's a bit more than see contract/sign contract. If an author feels comfortable doing this work herself, or paying a lawyer to do it for her, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

My original point is that this costs money. If you hire an attorney, it's coming out on the front end of the transaction instead of the back end. It's still money out of profits.

All the costs of SPing should be counted when making these sorts of decisions, and the author's time has a cost as well. It's time away from writing. If that doesn't count as a cost, I think that devalues the writer's time. My personal feeling, for my aspirations, is that if a small percentage of my sales is the cost for me not having to do the legwork, and knowing that foreign contacts, contracts and rights are being handled by someone I trust, I don't mind paying for that.

I also do not fault anyone for thinking otherwise.

Avatar_fan
05-28-2014, 01:40 AM
I think your twisting what "my" Mr. Smith said (I didn't appreciate the snide remark). He's comfortable with doing his own deals and that's fine. Other authors probably won't, but it's better to seek a publishing lawyer's help on these matters. A literary agent and a publishing lawyer do not offer the same services and are certainly not equal. For one thing, one is actually a lawyer while the other is not so why need a literary agent especially in self publishing when as you said, you want to know exactly what you're signing?

Avatar_fan
05-28-2014, 01:46 AM
On the Berne Convention, I'm not a lawyer and I don't quite understand what "country of origin" is. Like with Kindle publishing, if you publish in all countries in English, I don't exactly know what the country origin is. My understanding about copyright may be wrong, which is why a publishing lawyer is advisable for writers regardless if you have an agent or not.

Putputt
05-28-2014, 01:50 AM
I think your twisting what "my" Mr. Smith said (I didn't appreciate the snide remark). He's comfortable with doing his own deals and that's fine. Other authors probably won't, but it's better to seek a publishing lawyer's help on these matters. A literary agent and a publishing lawyer do not offer the same services and are certainly not equal. For one thing, one is actually a lawyer while the other is not so why need a literary agent especially in self publishing when as you said, you want to know exactly what you're signing?

Hmm, I feel like I'm missing something. I read ElaineA's post twice over and I can't spot a "snide remark"?

Anyway, ElaineA's given an example of why a lawyer might not be the best choice over a literary agent. Would you mind sharing actual examples of why a literary agent isn't the best choice? (Btw, repeating "one is actually a lawyer while the other is not" isn't an actual reason. As ElaineA has pointed out, the lawyer is going to cost the writer a lot of money which the author might not even make back, so the lawyer is a higher risk to go with from my POV...which is admittedly a pretty ignorant one.)

Avatar_fan
05-28-2014, 01:56 AM
Hmm, I feel like I'm missing something. I read ElaineA's post twice over and I can't spot a "snide remark"?

Anyway, ElaineA's given an example of why a lawyer might not be the best choice over a literary agent. Would you mind sharing actual examples of why a literary agent isn't the best choice? (Btw, repeating "one is actually a lawyer while the other is not" isn't an actual reason. As ElaineA has pointed out, the lawyer is going to cost the writer a lot of money which the author might not even make back, so the lawyer is a higher risk to go with from my POV...which is admittedly a pretty ignorant one.)

Why isn't it a reason? You can't pick and choose what you're arguing against especially on a factual matter like 'one is a lawyer while the other is not.'

Hoplite
05-28-2014, 02:07 AM
Why isn't it a reason? You can't pick and choose what you're arguing against especially on a factual matter like 'one is a lawyer while the other is not.'

Perhaps the literary agent knows more about the industry? Maybe over time the agent has a good grasp of what constitutes a fair contract?

I didn't buy my house with the aid of real estate lawyer; I had a real estate agent. Someone who knows the ins-and-outs of the industry and knows the steps of home-buying. A real estate lawyer might be able to understand at a higher level the 1,000 pages I had to sign, but can the lawyer advocate for my interests, negotiate a price, do they know who at the mortgage company to contact when payments are delayed?

Just because someone is the lawyer does not mean they are the better choice, or that you even need that high of legal knowledge. I fully understand how a publishing lawyer could be useful, but your argument that lawyer>agent is a poor one.

Putputt
05-28-2014, 02:10 AM
Why isn't it a reason? You can't pick and choose what you're arguing against especially on a factual matter like 'one is a lawyer while the other is not.'

Erm, because, like I said, ElaineA has actually shown why a lawyer might not be the better choice, whereas your argument is: "Well yes the lawyer is, because the lawyer is a lawyer."

But maybe that wasn't clear. In that case, hopefully Hoplite's post is clearer than mine.


Perhaps the literary agent knows more about the industry? Maybe over time the agent has a good grasp of what constitutes a fair contract?

I didn't buy my house with the aid of real estate lawyer; I had a real estate agent. Someone who knows the ins-and-outs of the industry and knows the steps of home-buying. A real estate lawyer might be able to understand at a higher level the 1,000 pages I had to sign, but can the lawyer advocate for my interests, negotiate a price, do they know who at the mortgage company to contact when payments are delayed?

Just because someone is the lawyer does not mean they are the better choice, or that you even need that high of legal knowledge. I fully understand how a publishing lawyer could be useful, but your argument that lawyer>agent is a poor one.

Avatar_fan
05-28-2014, 02:19 AM
A literary agent and a publishing lawyer however both know the ins and outs of publishing with the added benefit of one being an actual lawyer. And puttputt, please stop being snarky. It's really immature. I've been nothing but respectful to you.

Putputt
05-28-2014, 02:32 AM
A literary agent and a publishing lawyer however both know the ins and outs of publishing with the added benefit of one being an actual lawyer. And puttputt, please stop being snarky. It's really immature. I've been nothing but respectful to you.

Hmm, I don't think I've been snarky to you, but I apologize if you feel slighted.

However, you haven't addressed the difference in costs. There is still the fact that a publishing lawyer would cost the writer a lot of money upfront, regardless of how much the writer earns, or does not earn, from the publishing deal. Whereas the literary agent would only take a payment if the writer makes money. So it seems to me that a lawyer is a much higher risk. Would you care to address that?

Samsonet
05-28-2014, 02:39 AM
:popcorn:

Avatar_fan
05-28-2014, 03:00 AM
Well, as for cost, a literary agent may be "free" though the time to actually nab one is certainly not free but that's a digression.

Also, while the publishing attorney takes a single set fee, a literary agent takes 15% not only on the initial deal but over the life of the copyright. Here's author Kristine Kathryn Rusch's explanation (full disclosure, she's author Dean Wesley Smith's wife):

The Business Rusch: Agents (Surviving the Transition) (http://kriswrites.com/2011/06/01/the-business-rusch-agents-surviving-the-transition-part-3/#sthash.dQWQvsdl.dpbs)


At the turn of the century, Hollywood business practices infected the boutique and corporate literary agencies. I have examples in my files from one former boutique agency (now a corporate agency) showing the evolution of the agent clause they put in a publishing contract. It went from “send the check here” to this [emphasis mine]:

“The Author hereby irrevocably appoints [Agency]…to act in all matters pertaining to or arising out of this agreement and all other agreements, licensing, or otherwise dispersing of any rights in the Work in any form or media, and including any works for which there are options under this agreement…In consideration for services rendered, the Author irrevocably assigns and transfers to the Agent a sum equal to 15% of all monies due the Author under this Agreement and related agreements….”

It ends with this rather astonishing sentence: The provisions of this paragraph shall survive the termination of this Agreement.

Um, excuse me? Lawyers out there, tell me how this is possible.

That paragraph is a minefield of horribleness. It irrevocably assigns at least 15% of earnings from the sale of any rights in the book to the agent, as well as the same amount in works that are covered under the option clause. So if the agent negotiates a broad option like this one: “The publishing house has the option on the author’s next work,” then the agent will earn his 15% in whatever that next work is…even if the publishing contract is terminated.

- See more at: http://kriswrites.com/2011/06/01/the-business-rusch-agents-surviving-the-transition-part-3/#sthash.dQWQvsdl.dpuf

Hoplite compared the real estate industry with the literary agency industry which I feel is incorrect. A real estate agent only takes 15% of the selling price. However, a literary agent doesn't take 15%, she owns 15% so if you want to use the same comparison, she basically owns 15% of your house.

There are other rights grabs when you sign with a literary agency. For example, if you go the traditional route, if your book fails to sell and another literary agent sells it, Ms. Rusch explained that the previous literary agent still has a 15% stake on your work:


It’s clear from these clauses that the important entity in these agreements isn’t the author. It’s the agency. In the case of two of these clauses, the agency is making an actual rights grab on an author’s work—and the authors who signed this stuff allowed that rights grab, probably without understanding what they were signing.

Here’s how it works in practice. Author A gets pissed at Number One Agency and wants to hire The Grass Is Greener Agency. The Grass Is Greener Agency sells Author A’s next book, and the day after the sale is announced, The Grass Is Greener Agency gets a phone call from Number One Agency that says, “You didn’t have the right to sell that book (see egregious clause #2). But you did, so give us our percentage.”

Author A has a choice: either go to court or pay a 30% commission on the new book (15% to the new agent, and 15% to the old one). Court will take years and Author A could lose the case. The 30% is the best option here. And that 30% will continue on all projects related to that book, and maybe on all future projects.

An even worse case? That last agreement, in which The Grass Is Greener Agency gets the phone call informing them that they had no right to make this deal and the deal is invalid because Number One Agency negotiated a different deal on the author’s behalf with a different publishing house. Author A, after all, had signed away the rights to negotiate for himself in that horrible five-page agent agreement.

You think things like this don’t happen? In the past month, I’ve heard two separate stories of big deals gone awry because of this very thing. -

See more at: http://kriswrites.com/2011/06/01/the-business-rusch-agents-surviving-the-transition-part-3/#sthash.dQWQvsdl.dpuf

Comparing these costs where you give up 15% ownership as opposed to paying a single fee, I'm much more comfortable in using a publishing lawyer. If I'm ever in the position of having a literary agent ask me for representation, I would respectfully decline her. You might feel differently, but I think it's best to know what you're getting into rather than basing your decision on how nice they are (I'm sure they're nice people but they have a shady business model that's changing with self publishing).

Mutive
05-28-2014, 03:02 AM
Perhaps the literary agent knows more about the industry? Maybe over time the agent has a good grasp of what constitutes a fair contract?

FWIW, from my SO (who's done a bit of contract law), contract law itself (in the US, anyway) tends to be pretty simple on the face of it. It's the greater understanding of the industry (i.e. what can go wrong with a house - or publishing - contract that would require clauses) is the real skill.

(With that said, ElaineA seems to know far more than I do...)

ElaineA
05-28-2014, 04:13 AM
FWIW, from my SO (who's done a bit of contract law), contract law itself (in the US, anyway) tends to be pretty simple on the face of it. It's the greater understanding of the industry (i.e. what can go wrong with a house - or publishing - contract that would require clauses) is the real skill.

(With that said, ElaineA seems to know far more than I do...)

Nah, I'm just lazier and more paranoid. :D

Hoplite
05-28-2014, 04:22 AM
Also, while the publishing attorney takes a single set fee, a literary agent takes 15% not only on the initial deal but over the life of the copyright.

Hoplite compared the real estate industry with the literary agency industry which I feel is incorrect. A real estate agent only takes 15% of the selling price. However, a literary agent doesn't take 15%, she owns 15% so if you want to use the same comparison, she basically owns 15% of your house.

And that's a very valid point you make about costs. A lawyer will have a one time up front fee, whereas the agent will have a percentage of revenue for some duration of time. I was using real estate as an illustration of the services provided by agents vs. lawyers though, and did not intend for it to be a perfect match.

But even with your comment, the agent doesn't "own" 15% of your MS. You've agreed that in exchange for their services they'll receive a percentage of profits made from the sale of the MS. I highly doubt it's permanent, more likely set to a time duration or limited to so-many printings.

I haven't even finished an MS, let alone worry about queries to agents, so my knowledge here is limited.


There are other rights grabs when you sign with a literary agency. For example, if you go the traditional route, if your book fails to sell and another literary agent sells it, Ms. Rusch explained that the previous literary agent still has a 15% stake on your work:

To use real estate again for comparison:

My real estate agent had a similar clause. If she showed me a house, I pick up another agent, and buy that same house, my original agent was entitled to the commission on the sale.

HOWEVER, there was a time limit (6 months?) on the clause. My real estate agent couldn't lay claim to the commission forever. Really it was a protection for her, so that I couldn't dump her and go with a cheaper agent after I found a house I like.

I'd imagine that for publishing there is a set time that the original agency can lay claim to the 15% stake.


Comparing these costs where you give up 15% ownership as opposed to paying a single fee, I'm much more comfortable in using a publishing lawyer.

Once again, you're not ever giving up any ownership.

It really comes down to how much work you want to do yourself. If you're fine doing the promotional and run-around work that the agent would normally do, then no, you don't need an agent.

A lawyer may be cheaper (assuming you sell enough copies that the initial cost of the lawyer is less than the 15% take of an agent), but I doubt they provide as many services as an agent.

It comes down to what each individual is comfortable with. I'd rather let the agent do their thing and sit back and collect royalties, I get the impression you'd rather maximize revenue and be more hands-on. Both are valid options.

Avatar_fan
05-28-2014, 05:15 AM
Never had a literary agent but I highly doubt there would be a time limit to when they get their 15%. Unless you're a powerful bestselling author, a beginning author who goes the traditional route would be powerless against them especially when a beginning traditional author is usually desperate to get any agent to represent them. If you go over to Ms. Rusch's website, she has seen the evolution of these agency agreements from fairly ok to really slimy.

I've also read some real horror stories about literary agents that really put me off to them. Here's one and it's from a "top" literary agency: William Morris Endeavor (and no, it's from The Daily Beast (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/06/26/harriet-wasserman-literary-agent-scandal-and-ted-mooney.html?cid=hp:topnav:book) and not from author Dean Wesley Smith).


One of the top literary agents in New York who represented Saul Bellow and others disappeared amid allegations of missing royalties. Now her former client Ted Mooney has a new book out and is going it alone, reports Claire Howorth.

The literary-agent scandal making news right now is William Morris-Endeavor agent Bill Clegg’s past as a crackhead. But as novelist Ted Mooney published his new book, The Same River Twice, with Knopf last month, old rumors bubbled up about another agent, Harriet Wasserman, who once represented Mooney.

Old Hack
05-28-2014, 11:28 AM
I think your twisting what "my" Mr. Smith said (I didn't appreciate the snide remark).


And puttputt, please stop being snarky. It's really immature. I've been nothing but respectful to you.

If you have a problem with anyone's comments then please use the "report post" button so that the mods can deal with it. Don't try to police threads yourself: it only leads threads off-topic, and encourages bickering. Thanks.

For the record, I didn't see any snark in Elaine's post or in puttputt's, but I do see snark in yours. Try to step back and assume good intentions, Avatar. Thanks.


A literary agent and a publishing lawyer however both know the ins and outs of publishing with the added benefit of one being an actual lawyer.

A literary agent has access to in-house lawyers or lawyers on retainer, and will consult them when required.

I've dealt with several publishing lawyers over the years and while they could all advise me on the legalities of a contract, not one of them had a proper understanding of what made a contract good for the writer concerned. That's the huge advantage that a literary agent has.


Well, as for cost, a literary agent may be "free" though the time to actually nab one is certainly not free but that's a digression.

Also, while the publishing attorney takes a single set fee, a literary agent takes 15% not only on the initial deal but over the life of the copyright. Here's author Kristine Kathryn Rusch's explanation (full disclosure, she's author Dean Wesley Smith's wife):

No: a literary agent takes commission for a deal for as long as the deal is in place. That's not usually the life of copyright.


There are other rights grabs when you sign with a literary agency. For example, if you go the traditional route, if your book fails to sell and another literary agent sells it, Ms. Rusch explained that the previous literary agent still has a 15% stake on your work:

Again, that's wrong.

I've moved agents in the past. Deals which my first agent made for me remained with my first agent: he continued to receive cheques from my publisher for as long as the book remained in print.

The book which he failed to sell moved to my new agent. My new agent sold it for me. Only my new agent receives commission on those sales.


Comparing these costs where you give up 15% ownership as opposed to paying a single fee, I'm much more comfortable in using a publishing lawyer.

You don't "give up ownership" when you sign with a literary agent. You still own your rights. You license rights to publishers, along with very specific clauses about which rights they are licensing from you and when those rights will revert to you. The agent finds deals for you, negotiates them, and then ensures that the publisher sticks to the contract, and for that they are paid a commission of 15% for the life of the contract.


Never had a literary agent but I highly doubt there would be a time limit to when they get their 15%. Unless you're a powerful bestselling author, a beginning author who goes the traditional route would be powerless against them especially when a beginning traditional author is usually desperate to get any agent to represent them. If you go over to Ms. Rusch's website, she has seen the evolution of these agency agreements from fairly ok to really slimy.

I've also read some real horror stories about literary agents that really put me off to them. Here's one and it's from a "top" literary agency: William Morris Endeavor (and no, it's from The Daily Beast (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/06/26/harriet-wasserman-literary-agent-scandal-and-ted-mooney.html?cid=hp:topnav:book) and not from author Dean Wesley Smith).

It's "trade publishing", not "traditional", Avatar. Please respect our house style while you're here. Thanks.

A friend of mine signed a couple of years ago with one of the UK's top agents. She was a complete unknown at that time and in the intervening years has had three books published to great acclaim and has sold many foreign and subsidiary rights deals. Her books have sold in amazing quantity and she's earned a stonking amount of money in the process.

She's not been "powerless against" her agent because their relationship isn't as you imply it would be. It's a positive, nurturing, encouraging one.

As for the William Morris story you linked to: one can always find horror stories to illustrate points with. But such stories are not typical of most authors' relationships with their agents.

***

Moving on: I'd like this thread to get back on-topic. Let's have a good discussion, backed up by verifiable facts. Let's have less rhetoric and outrage. If we can't manage that I'll lock the thread.

Little Ming
05-28-2014, 09:42 PM
...
However, you haven't addressed the difference in costs. There is still the fact that a publishing lawyer would cost the writer a lot of money upfront, regardless of how much the writer earns, or does not earn, from the publishing deal. Whereas the literary agent would only take a payment if the writer makes money. So it seems to me that a lawyer is a much higher risk. Would you care to address that?

This wasn't directed at me, but I'll answer anyway. ;)

It comes down to an author making an informed decision. I don't have a problem with an author who wants to use a literary attorney instead of an agent, if the author understands the difference.

Also, keep in mind that the agent's job is not over after the contract is signed. If problems arise during the course of publications (delays, conflicts with the editors, breach of contract, payment issues) the agent handles all of those issues out of their 15%. An attorney however will likely charge by the hour. It's a calculated risk the author needs to consider.


Well, as for cost, a literary agent may be "free" though the time to actually nab one is certainly not free but that's a digression.

Well, certainly, an author looking for a literary attorney will need to spend time researching too. But digression... ;)


Also, while the publishing attorney takes a single set fee, a literary agent takes 15% not only on the initial deal but over the life of the copyright. Here's author Kristine Kathryn Rusch's explanation (full disclosure, she's author Dean Wesley Smith's wife):

The Business Rusch: Agents (Surviving the Transition) (http://kriswrites.com/2011/06/01/the-business-rusch-agents-surviving-the-transition-part-3/#sthash.dQWQvsdl.dpbs)

Hoplite compared the real estate industry with the literary agency industry which I feel is incorrect. A real estate agent only takes 15% of the selling price. However, a literary agent doesn't take 15%, she owns 15% so if you want to use the same comparison, she basically owns 15% of your house.

There are other rights grabs when you sign with a literary agency. For example, if you go the traditional route, if your book fails to sell and another literary agent sells it, Ms. Rusch explained that the previous literary agent still has a 15% stake on your work:

Comparing these costs where you give up 15% ownership as opposed to paying a single fee, I'm much more comfortable in using a publishing lawyer. If I'm ever in the position of having a literary agent ask me for representation, I would respectfully decline her. You might feel differently, but I think it's best to know what you're getting into rather than basing your decision on how nice they are (I'm sure they're nice people but they have a shady business model that's changing with self publishing).

What your talking about is interminable agency clause or perpetual rights (http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2011/04/interminable-agency-clause.html). It's unfortunate that it started popping up in some agency agreements a few years back, but it was/is not as common as you seem to think. Many writers' sites like Writer Beware and AW called out the agents for it, and many of the contracts no longer have the clause or writers can ask to have it stricken.


Never had a literary agent but I highly doubt there would be a time limit to when they get their 15%.

Of course there is. End of copyright would be the most obvious one. :) But as I mentioned above, the clause you are referring to is not as common as you think. When it started appearing, many people made noise about it, and it mostly went away.


Unless you're a powerful bestselling author, a beginning author who goes the traditional route would be powerless against them especially when a beginning traditional author is usually desperate to get any agent to represent them.

No author is "powerless" to decide whether they want to sign with an agent or not. We have a saying on AW: Better to have no agent then a bad agent. Authors should not be "desperate" to have an agent.

Well-informed choices are what's important.


If you go over to Ms. Rusch's website, she has seen the evolution of these agency agreements from fairly ok to really slimy.

I've also read some real horror stories about literary agents that really put me off to them. Here's one and it's from a "top" literary agency: William Morris Endeavor (and no, it's from The Daily Beast (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/06/26/harriet-wasserman-literary-agent-scandal-and-ted-mooney.html?cid=hp:topnav:book) and not from author Dean Wesley Smith).

You don't have to go to any other website to see evidence of agents behaving badly. AW's Bewares forum (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=22) is more than sufficient. There's evidence of dozens of agents, publishers, editors, etc doing bad things. There's also Writer Beware (http://accrispin.blogspot.com/) and Predators and Editors (http://pred-ed.com/).

Similarly, my state bar sends out a newsletter every month with a list of names of attorneys (including intellectual property attorneys and literary attorneys) who have been suspended or disbarred for doing bad things. Do a Google search for "legal malpractice" and you'll find loads of bad attorneys.

Truth is, in any profession your going to find a handful of people doing bad things. Pointing out a few examples is not an argument that an entire profession is bad.


If I'm ever in the position of having a literary agent ask me for representation, I would respectfully decline her.

As is your choice. But I do hope you do some more research into the good things agents do for their clients (and there are a lot) before you make your decision. I'm afraid some of the sources you've linked to here have been rather biased, and I'm worried you might not be making an informed decision.

I'm not pro-agent; I'm pro-well-informed-choices. :)


You might feel differently, but I think it's best to know what you're getting into

Same to you. ;)


rather than basing your decision on how nice they are (I'm sure they're nice people but they have a shady business model that's changing with self publishing).

Well. I don't think anyone here is advocating to get an agent based on "niceness." In fact, there are a number of authors on AW who do not have agents and, like you advocate, use a literary attorney instead. Some authors are not represented by either and handle their own contracts. All of these paths are valid, as long as the authors are well-informed and understand the risk and benefits.

If the sources you're reading are suggesting authors only sign with agents because of their perceived "niceness," then I, again, encourage you to seek out better, less biased sources. :)

Avatar_fan
05-29-2014, 10:10 PM
Want to get this in before we have to move back on topic.

Concerning the legal staff, if a literary agency does have an in house lawyer or legal staff (and that’s a big if and certainly not a given), that lawyer represents the literary agency and not you. There’s a lot of potential problems when the lawyer is looking out for the literary agency’s interests. Don’t know why you’d have to do a run around when you can directly hire a publishing lawyer that has only your interest at heart.

Here’s what publishing attorney Lloyd Jassin has to say on this issue as well as the 15% issue.

Publishing Attorney or Literary Agent (http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/publishing-attorney-or-literary-agent_b11525)


Contract negotiations over non-money issues such as control over title, narrowing the non-complete clause, right of approval over derivative works, slows those agents down, and, possibly, denies them an interest in certain revenue streams. So, keep in mind, an agent’s long term interests and an author’s long-term interests may not be perfectly aligned. You may be able to live with the conflict of interest, but make sure the conflict works for you, or you embrace it with eyes open.


“Under what circumstances would you hire an attorney and not an agent?

If you’ve been offered a book deal, and you don’t have an agent, why do you need one? Agent’s procure book deals and edit manuscripts. Their primary duty is to locate literary properties and shape them. An agent will take 15% of your gross revenues in perpetuity merely to negotiate your contract. Unless the agent can bring a tremendous added value, hire a qualified publishing attorney, who will work on a straight hourly fee basis.”

Publishers today can also keep your book “in print” basically forever, and if you do try, you’ll need a publishing attorney and years of legal wrangling (http://makeminemystery.blogspot.com/2014/01/breaking-up-is-hard-to-do.html).


Like so many other writers I am in the process of trying to get my rights back. Why is it such a hassle?

Most new contracts are written where it seems the publisher controls all the rights forever, with little or no hope of reversion to the writer. Apparently many publishers feel that they own the book instead of just having the license to publish it, and that’s just wrong, especially if they do little or nothing to sell the book. Instead they just sit on it.

A friend of mine has had several books with a major publisher for years now and try though she will, she cannot get the rights back. There is a catch in her contract that she can expect her rights to be reverted only after her book has been on sale for a certain length of time. As her sales had been okay but not spectacular she wanted to try for the gold ring in self-publishing. Every time the magic reversion date comes close, though, the publisher brings out a new, cheapie edition inRumania or Patagonia or somewhere. It’s a new edition, however potentially unprofitable, and that resets the reversion clock. I guess they don’t want the author to make any money that they don’t control or the ability to put the book on the market where it might be bought instead of one of theirs. Either way it’s a dishonorable practice, whether or not it’s contractually legal.

For an industry that’s spawned the interminable agency clause (and there’s no evidence, this practice has been stamped out) and reading fees as well as making fun of writers back in 2009 with the #queryfail controversy (http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2009/apr/06/twitter-wars-writers-agents) (when they thought they were indispensable), why should writers give them the benefit of the doubt?

With the rise of self publishing, literary agents have become an optional and expensive accessory at best and a harmful parasite at worst. I thought for the longest time the literary agent to publishing path was the best for the beginning writer, but I've definitely changed my mind.

Old Hack
05-29-2014, 10:34 PM
Want to get this in before we have to move back on topic.

Excuse me?

I was clear enough when I wrote,


Moving on: I'd like this thread to get back on-topic. Let's have a good discussion, backed up by verifiable facts. Let's have less rhetoric and outrage. If we can't manage that I'll lock the thread.

You ignored my request: this thread is now locked.

Old Hack
05-30-2014, 12:36 PM
All the posts above this one have been moved or copied across from the Agents Attitude Towards Self-Published Novels (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=290619) thread in our Self Publishing room.

I'm going to reopen this thread now, but be aware: I expect you all to be respectful and courteous. And it would be helpful if people would assume good intentions: this isn't a contest that anyone can win.

Terie
05-30-2014, 12:48 PM
Agents make foreign rights and other subsidiary rights deals, which are often even more lucrative to authors than the original deals.

Lawyers don't.

Old Hack
05-30-2014, 01:05 PM
Concerning the legal staff, if a literary agency does have an in house lawyer or legal staff (and that’s a big if and certainly not a given),

All good literary agencies that I know of (I've worked with a lot over the years and am friends with several agents) have lawyers on staff or on retainer.


that lawyer represents the literary agency and not you. There’s a lot of potential problems when the lawyer is looking out for the literary agency’s interests. Don’t know why you’d have to do a run around when you can directly hire a publishing lawyer that has only your interest at heart. If you've got a good literary agent I'm not convinced you need to consult a lawyer too, as the agent will have already ensured it's legally watertight and enforceable.

It's in an agent's interests to ensure that her clients' contracts are as good as they can be. Remember that her earnings are directly linked to her clients' earnings: if her clients do well then so does she. Why would she allow them to sign contracts which weren't as good as they could be?


Here’s what publishing attorney Lloyd Jassin has to say on this issue as well as the 15% issue.

Publishing Attorney or Literary Agent (http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/publishing-attorney-or-literary-agent_b11525)


Contract negotiations over non-money issues such as control over title, narrowing the non-complete clause, right of approval over derivative works, slows those agents down, and, possibly, denies them an interest in certain revenue streams. So, keep in mind, an agent’s long term interests and an author’s long-term interests may not be perfectly aligned. You may be able to live with the conflict of interest, but make sure the conflict works for you, or you embrace it with eyes open.An agent won't be denied an interest in the revenue streams mentioned because the agent represents the author in all rights sales (some authors have separate book and film agents, but let's not complicate matters). Granting a publisher rights it's not going to exploit isn't going to increase an agent's revenue: it's more likely to reduce it, as there's no guarantee the publisher will ever do anything with those rights; and if they do, then it's usual for the publisher to keep 50% of all income so derived. If the agent ensures her client retains those foreign and subsidiary rights, then that agent can license those rights elsewhere for additional payment, which will ALL go to the author (minus, of course, the agent's commission).


“Under what circumstances would you hire an attorney and not an agent?

If you’ve been offered a book deal, and you don’t have an agent, why do you need one? Agent’s procure book deals and edit manuscripts. Their primary duty is to locate literary properties and shape them. An agent will take 15% of your gross revenues in perpetuity merely to negotiate your contract. Unless the agent can bring a tremendous added value, hire a qualified publishing attorney, who will work on a straight hourly fee basis.”

A publishing attorney will require payment upfront, while an agent will only get paid when you do, and will also only take a small percentage of your payment.

A publishing attorney will provide you with a one-off service: contract checking. A literary agent will give you "a tremendous added value" by checking your contract, negotiating it, ensuring it's adhered to, finding you foreign and subsidiary rights deals, and making sure your new books get in front of the most appropriate editors.

Remember that it's been shown in several studies that writers with agents earn more money per book and overall than writers without agents: I think the average is something like $5,000 per initial deal with the added bonus of all those foreign and subsidiary deals but I haven't checked, so don't quote me on that.


Publishers today can also keep your book “in print” basically forever, and if you do try, you’ll need a publishing attorney and years of legal wrangling (http://makeminemystery.blogspot.com/2014/01/breaking-up-is-hard-to-do.html). A good literary agent wouldn't allow you to sign a contract with such a clause, and would take care of all those years of legal wrangling (if such a thing were to happen) at no cost to you.


For an industry that’s spawned the interminable agency clause (and there’s no evidence, this practice has been stamped out) and reading fees as well as making fun of writers back in 2009 with the #queryfail controversy (http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2009/apr/06/twitter-wars-writers-agents) (when they thought they were indispensable), why should writers give them the benefit of the doubt? As Little Ming already pointed out, though, the interminable agency clause is a red herring: good agents don't do this.

If you're offered a contract from an agency, get it checked out before you sign it. The UK's Society of Authors will do this for its members, I think for free: I'm sure there are similar US organisations which provide similar advice.


With the rise of self publishing, literary agents have become an optional and expensive accessory at best and a harmful parasite at worst. I thought for the longest time the literary agent to publishing path was the best for the beginning writer, but I've definitely changed my mind.I agree that a bad agent is not going to help any writer. But a good literary agent can transform a midlist writer into a best-selling one, and ensure that their sales and earnings are maximised.

You might have changed your mind about agents, but judging from the sources you've quoted in this thread and the one it was peeled out from, you've been reading a lot of biased and bigoted blogs, none of which can be relied upon to give reasoned or thoughtful advice about trade publishing: they all have a definite agenda in favour of self publishing. And trade publishing and self publishing shouldn't have to be two opposing camps: it's common now for writers to occupy both areas with great success, and there are all sorts of benefits to writers and readers when this happens.

Avatar_fan, I urge you to read more widely, and to question what you do read. Don't assume that because someone says something with great force and conviction that they're right: consider what their motives and biases are. Because everyone has biases, and if you ignore that you're going to develop a very skewed viewpoint, which isn't going to serve you well in the long run.

Jennifer_Laughran
05-30-2014, 06:33 PM
I mean I get why people are trying to argue with the OP but honestly - what's the point?

Good luck in life and your career, my friend.

Laer Carroll
05-30-2014, 07:32 PM
I just spent three very long days researching those agents who are most likely to represent me. That number is 61 and I read maybe twice that to narrow it down to them.

My reading supports Old Hack’s comments. I found that maybe a fifth of all agents were either attorneys or had an attorney in their agency who they could consult.

I was surprised by that number. But after a while I got used to agents who said they worked X number of years as an attorney but finally decided to return their true love: books. Here is an example of such a dual-threat agent: Marisa Corvisiero (http://www.corvisieroagency.com/Marisa_A_Corvisiero.html).

Jamesaritchie
05-30-2014, 07:55 PM
An agent though is not a trained lawyer, and if you do get a contract, you'll need a lawyer anyways even if you do have an agent. Why does an author need that extra hanger on?



Well, no, you don't need a lawyer just because you get a contract. Any good agent can handle a contract every bit as well as an attorney. Better, in fact, than most attorneys, because a publishing contract is very specific, has boilerplate clauses that the agent knows well, and the agent most certainly is trained to handle a publishing contract.

Now, I love Dean Wesley Smith, but like most who prote an attorney over an agent, he started with an agent, and published a God Almighty lot of novels before starting to use an attorney.

And the full story of an agent is that contracts are the tiniest part of an agent's job. This is what Dean Wesley Smith glosses over, and what few new writers understand. New writers think an agent takes a manuscript from you, sends it to an editor, who sends back a contract. Agent and editor then haggle a bit about the detail, and voila, all done.

Nothing is this simple. Agents need a tremendous knowledge of the publishing business, of everything from who wants what, to trends, to who is about to open a new line of books, or close and old line, or merge two smaller holdings, etc. They need to know where to find and how to negotiate all sorts of subsidiary rights, and two dozen other things.

An attorney does none of this, and knows none of this.

And if you read Dean Wesley Smith's blog carefully, he even acknowledges that you are going to have to learn how to do all these things yourself, and that you probably can't get your manuscript onto the desk of a big 6 publisher without an agent.

The advantage of a literary attorney over an agent is what he doesn't do, not what he does. He doesn't, for example, take fifteen percent for life. He gets a one time fee, and no more.

This means he also doesn't get any part of a deal you make later with that book, or the next book. He plays no part in anything after the contract is signed. He gets no more money, and does no more work until and unless you hire him for the next deal.

But if you use a literary attorney and go without an agent, you have to be your own agent. You have find a way of getting your manuscript onto the desk of the right editor at the right time, you have to know all the ins and outs of the publishing industry, you have to know where to find and how to handle subsidiary rights, well, you have to know everything about publishing that a good agent knows, and that is a LOT.

Publishing is not, "Here's my book, my attorney will go over the contract with you. Are we done now?"

I like literary attorneys, and I've been using one for a while now, but there's no way in hell I could have done this as a new writer, and no way in hell I'd ever suggest a new writer even think about it When you're new to the business, an agent is your most valuable ally, and worth a hundred literary attorneys.

Later, when you've made some serious sales, when you've taken the time to learn the business inside out, an attorney might be eh right choice, but when you're just starting out, my experience is that you simply are not going to succeed without an agent. You certainly won't succeed to the degree you would with an agent.

The are many horror stories about agents out there, and sometimes some agents do ask for far too much. But a good agent is invaluable.

Just think about this one thing. A literary attorney is completely worthless until after you're offered a contract. The contract is his sole job. Just how do you propose getting offered a contract from a good publisher without an agent? Do you have any notion how difficult this is for a new writer? It isn't impossible, but it's just down the road and one left turn from it.

Little Ming
05-30-2014, 09:27 PM
I mean I get why people are trying to argue with the OP but honestly - what's the point?

Well, I'm not so much "arguing," as I realize there are probably lots of silent lurkers reading these threads too, so I think it's important to call out biased sources and logical fallacies. :)




Here’s what publishing attorney Lloyd Jassin has to say on this issue as well as the 15% issue.

Publishing Attorney or Literary Agent (http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/publishing-attorney-or-literary-agent_b11525)


Contract negotiations over non-money issues such as control over title, narrowing the non-complete clause, right of approval over derivative works, slows those agents down, and, possibly, denies them an interest in certain revenue streams. So, keep in mind, an agent’s long term interests and an author’s long-term interests may not be perfectly aligned. You may be able to live with the conflict of interest, but make sure the conflict works for you, or you embrace it with eyes open.

Similarly, an attorney's "long-term interests" only run as long as you keep paying him. That's one of the major differences in hiring an attorney instead of an agent. An agent has a "long term interest" in making as much money for a book as possible, because he gets paid on what the author makes. However, an attorney will likely get paid per contract or hourly, depending on the agreement.

(If I were really cynical I could point out that an attorney's financial interest is to create as much conflict as possible (between author and publisher) so he can be paid more. But I won't.)

An attorney's loyalty to his clients is also not absolute. There are a number of legal ways an attorney can stop representing his client, break confidentiality, or even, in some cases, end up on the opposite side of the courtroom as a former client. Don't think that just because you hire an attorney that his long-term interests will always align with the author.

But until proven otherwise I assume my attorney is working in my best interest. I give the same benefit of a doubt to my agent. ;)


Publishers today can also keep your book “in print” basically forever, and if you do try, you’ll need a publishing attorney and years of legal wrangling (http://makeminemystery.blogspot.com/2014/01/breaking-up-is-hard-to-do.html). And authors should NOT sign contracts that have vague "in print" clauses. A good agent will not allow this to happen.

Sure, there are bad agents out there, but authors should not sign with them.

Similarly, there are also bad attorneys out there, and no one should sign with them. ;)


For an industry that’s spawned the interminable agency clause (and there’s no evidence, this practice has been stamped out) and reading fees as well as making fun of writers back in 2009 with the #queryfail controversy (http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2009/apr/06/twitter-wars-writers-agents) (when they thought they were indispensable), why should writers give them the benefit of the doubt? AFAIK, after much of the noise made over the interminable agency clause, it has mostly gone away. I mean, proving a negative on my part is quite difficult. ;) Do you have any positive evidence that this clause is still wide-spread?

Why should authors give agents the benefit of a doubt? Because I like to treat people as individuals. Also, I could point out all the crappy stuff individual attorneys have done, and then ask, similarly, why give any attorney the benefit of a doubt? ;)


With the rise of self publishing, literary agents have become an optional and expensive accessory at best and a harmful parasite at worst. I thought for the longest time the literary agent to publishing path was the best for the beginning writer, but I've definitely changed my mind.

First, there is no universal "best path" for writers. Everyone needs to do what is best for themselves and for their book.

Next, while I admit there are bad agents out there, do you really believe there are no bad attorneys? Because go to any state bad website and you will find a list of the newly suspended, disbarred, and currently under investigation. And surely, if we go to the news media there will be loads and loads of stories of attorneys engaged in legally questionable activities.

But we can all agree that the majority of attorneys are not these people, right? That's why you're advocating so strongly for authors to use a literary attorney, I assume, because you believe these bad actors are the exception, not the norm.

So why is this different for agents? Why look at only the bad agents and the bad contract clauses and try to generalize to the entire profession?

As I already pointed out, if you want evidence of agents acting badly, you don't need to go to biased sources, you can go to the Bewares forum right here on AW (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=22). But we also acknowledge these bad actors are the exception, not the norm.

***

Further, I agree with everything James said. It is important to note that even if you get a great literary attorney, he's still only an attorney. He's not going to go to publishers and shop the manuscript. He is also not going out to seek to sell foreign rights, media rights etc. Attorneys wait for the contracts to come to them, which means the authors are going to be the ones looking for the deals. I'm guessing most new authors are not in the position to do this.

Fizgig
05-30-2014, 11:01 PM
Though I firmly believe having a good agent is generally better, I do think there are reasons to go the self-publishing route. That said, there's some evidence that you will, in fact, make more money with an agent. It's slightly old, but there was a survey in SSF that laid out the basic advances for agented versus unagented writers.

Here's the snip:
58% of our first time novelists had an agent, the other 42% sold the book without an agent, and a high number indicate they got agents right after or during the sale of the book.


The range in agented advances is from $1500 to $40,000

The median agented advance is $6000 (the average is $7500)


The range in unagented advances is from $0 to $15000

The median unagented advance is $3500 (the average is $4051)

From here:
http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/2005/10/05/author-advance-survey-version-20/

Obviously that doesn't talk about the income from the life of the book and, of course, if you have a runaway best seller, you will end up paying the agent more. But, at the front end it seems fairly likely that an agent will get you a better deal because that's what they do.

Filigree
05-30-2014, 11:34 PM
I'll jump in with a bit of strategy. As other posters have said, it's not agent/no agent, commercial publisher/self publisher. The new reality will probably be a mix, for the authors who learn how to manage it.

I could self-publish three big volumes in an epic fantasy series right now. Judging by what has happened to similar commercially published works in the past decade, I would probably fail miserably. I don't have the name or the promotional machinery in place to make me the next Brandon Sanderson...and I have some fairly sophisticated and largely passive promotional stuff happening behind the scenes.

So I set that series aside and wrote a more commercially-viable book in an erotic romance subgenre that is experiencing a lot of market growth. It sold. For reasons mostly involving my own stupidity, I needed an agent's help with the contract. I found an agent, with the help of some kind people here on AW. My agent is not someone I could have queried on my own. The agent proved worth her commission on that deal, and still does.

Now we're beginning to talk about the big epic fantasy. She can get my work through more doors, faster, and with a better outcome, than I can do myself.

Could I learn to do all this? Sure. I'm smart. But I'm also really busy with another career outside of writing, so I don't have the time I'd need to become my own agent.

A contract lawyer simply doesn't have the ever-changing industry scuttlebutt that a good, experienced agent does.

I repeat: this is only my current strategy, and so far it's not been a disaster.

Laer Carroll
05-31-2014, 12:51 AM
Good point that every writer's needs are different.

I HAVE gone the self-publishing route; all the books in my sig were published that way. I've had some modest success, mostly with the ebook versions. The "pbook" versions are not successful, mostly I believe because bookstores almost never stock print-on-demand books.

Now I'm investigating the trade publishing route. I just spent three very long days researching literary agents. They are a very varied bunch, so I expect at least three more 10-hour days before I winnow the 61 possibles down to the more probable choices.

And one of the considerations will be if the agent is also an attorney or has agency access to one. I am not convinced as some others in this thread are that the average agent is fully qualified to judge all aspect of the contracts offered to their authors, especially as publishing houses continue to "evolve" their contracts.

Old Hack
05-31-2014, 02:19 AM
I HAVE gone the self-publishing route; all the books in my sig were published that way. I've had some modest success, mostly with the ebook versions. The "pbook" versions are not successful, mostly I believe because bookstores almost never stock print-on-demand books.

There are a few reasons why self-published books don't sell well in print editions.

The first is that digitally printed copies don't withstand shelf-wear very well: they're just not robust enough. Then, there's the cost issue: they're so expensive per copy that it's difficult to price them at a level where readers will buy them while simultaneously giving bookshops the 50% or so discount they require. On top of that, few self-publishers make their books fully returnable, so bookshops won't order them.

And few self publishers have their books with a distributor, or have any sort of sales force behind them, because they don't have the marketing budget or marketing plans behind them to acquire that distribution and a sales team. So the bookshops don't even get to hear about the books. And if they don't know about them, they won't order them in.

All these are real problems for self publishers, and they're a big part of the reason that self publishing only because really viable when electronic editions became popular.


Now I'm investigating the trade publishing route. I just spent three very long days researching literary agents. They are a very varied bunch, so I expect at least three more 10-hour days before I winnow the 61 possibles down to the more probable choices.

Most writers submit to more than 61 agents before finding representation. Keep a copy of the list you've got, just in case.


And one of the considerations will be if the agent is also an attorney or has agency access to one. I am not convinced as some others in this thread are that the average agent is fully qualified to judge all aspect of the contracts offered to their authors, especially as publishing houses continue to "evolve" their contracts.

All good literary agents know how to read a contract, and understand the implications of the clauses contained in a publishing contract. It's a basic part of their job. They can't do their job if they can't read, understand, and interpret a contract.

But they also all have access to lawyers. They either have them on retainer or they have one in-house. Again, it's a basic requirement.

Avatar_fan
05-31-2014, 04:17 PM
Oh wow, I didn't even know this thread moved here.

Literary agents may have had a use in the past and certainly was the prevailing wisdom when self publishing was not viable, but I think it's increasingly antiquated advice that an author needs a literary agent.

For the beginning author or midlist author, author Hugh Howey has shown in his May 2014 Author Earnings report (http://authorearnings.com/may-2014-author-earnings-report/) that the average self publisher makes as much as the average trade published authors, even a bit more so, without wasting probably years trying to secure a literary agent and without their buyer beware agency agreements.


Self-published authors are clearly earning as much as traditionally published authors on the largest e-book sales platform in the world. A few months ago, this seemed impossible. It is already beginning to feel like old hat.

For the top and most well connected people like President Obama, former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, the Bushes, and even author James Patterson, they've ditched their literary agents and gone with publishing attorneys. From The Hollywood Reporter (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/amanda-knox-book-bob-barnett-431138):


The most sought-after literary agent in America actually isn't an agent. He's Washington lawyer Robert Barnett. Since scoring Ronald Reagan budget director David Stockman a $2.4 million advance in 1985, Barnett, a noted Democratic player (he's worked on nine presidential campaigns, mostly doing debate prep), has built a thriving -- and bipartisan -- business negotiating book deals for presidents (Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton), first ladies (Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush), cabinet secretaries (Timothy Geithner) and political strategists (Karl Rove), plus the occasional royal (Queen Noor, Prince Charles). His practice isn't limited to Washington; other clients include James Patterson, Shania Twain and even Barbra Streisand.

I think by looking at what the most well connected people are doing, we can see where the wind is blowing.

Old Hack
05-31-2014, 05:29 PM
Oh wow, I didn't even know this thread moved here.

If you click on the "User CP" link near the top of the page you should be able to edit the notifications you receive, and see a list of the threads you've subscribed to.


Literary agents may have had a use in the past and certainly was the prevailing wisdom when self publishing was not viable, but I think it's increasingly antiquated advice that an author needs a literary agent.

You're wrong, and if you'd paid attention to what was said in this thread instead of insisting everyone who said otherwise was wrong, you might have learned why you're wrong.


For the beginning author or midlist author, author Hugh Howey has shown in his May 2014 Author Earnings report (http://authorearnings.com/may-2014-author-earnings-report/) that the average self publisher makes as much as the average trade published authors, even a bit more so, without wasting probably years trying to secure a literary agent and without their buyer beware agency agreements.

Howey's earnings report showed no such thing. And there are serious flaws in how the report was produced, and the way the conclusions were drawn from it. It's not a reliable piece of documentation.


For the top and most well connected people like President Obama, former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, the Bushes, and even author James Patterson, they've ditched their literary agents and gone with publishing attorneys. From The Hollywood Reporter (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/amanda-knox-book-bob-barnett-431138):



I think by looking at what the most well connected people are doing, we can see where the wind is blowing.

So a few US presidents use attorneys instead of literary agents. Are we all US presidents, or are we writers?

If we're writers, then it would be more appropriate for us to look at the paths taken by best-selling writers and see how they've managed their careers.

JoJo Moyes, Peter James, J K Rowling, and another several dozen I could name are all best-selling writers, and hugely successful. And they all have literary agents.

Avatar_fan
05-31-2014, 09:50 PM
I'm incredibly shocked at the vitriol here. Just because things are changing in publishing and you may not like it doesn't give you the right to engage in sneering or name calling, jamesaritchie.

If you don't like my links, then please explain why. Why exactly is Mr. Howey wrong? I've checked his methodology (culling Amazon data and estimating ranking to sales) and it's completely valid. Also, please explain why Presidents and other top officials having abandoned their literary agents is somehow wrong.

Also, please don't insult self published writers. No one is forcing anyone to read self published novels, and I like that it'll be readers who get to decide rather than a few people from New York.

Aggy B.
05-31-2014, 09:51 PM
Literary agents may have had a use in the past and certainly was the prevailing wisdom when self publishing was not viable, but I think it's increasingly antiquated advice that an author needs a literary agent.

I don't have the connections my agent does, so that's valuable. He knows which editors are looking for new material and whether what I've sent him will be a good fit or not. And it doesn't have to go through the slushpile.

I also know that while he may not be a lawyer, he knows what the clauses in the contract should look like. And he knows how to negotiate the terms if they aren't advantageous to me (and him). And, unlike a lawyer who is hired to do a specific thing at a specific time, when I emailed him to ask about a new imprint that had just been announced by one of the spec-fic heavyweights during BEA, he said "I'll stop by their booth and check it out." Because he was there, making connections and looking for ways to sell his clients work. (Even if I did have a lawyer in NY, I doubt I could have called them and said "Go check this out for me.")


For the top and most well connected people like President Obama, former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, the Bushes, and even author James Patterson, they've ditched their literary agents and gone with publishing attorneys.

I think by looking at what the most well connected people are doing, we can see where the wind is blowing.They can do this because they have name recognition. ANY editor will recognize the name George Bush or Hillary Clinton. Or James Patterson. And most editors are going to want to look at something written/co-written by someone with name recognition. Because they're interested in the NAME.

You really cannot argue that the success of "well connected" people can be equally obtained by "no connections" people. Because an integral part of that success is the connections which, in the case of most of those you mentioned, come from spheres of life outside writing. The value in a book by President Obama is less "It's a book about X" and more "It's a book by Obama."

Whereas what I write currently sells based on the actual content and not who I am.

Old Hack
05-31-2014, 10:23 PM
James, if you can't be polite and respectful in your posts, don't post. This is the second warning I've given you today (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=8897510&postcount=64): next time I see you being rude here, I'll give you a time-out.


I'm incredibly shocked at the vitriol here. Just because things are changing in publishing and you may not like it doesn't give you the right to engage in sneering or name calling, jamesaritchie.

Avatar_fan, I'm pretty sure I've told you this before: if you find a post offensive or troublesome in any way, report it. Don't try to police the thread yourself: leave that to the mods.


If you don't like my links, then please explain why. Why exactly is Mr. Howey wrong? I've checked his methodology (culling Amazon data and estimating ranking to sales) and it's completely valid.

His methods are deeply flawed. We have a discussion about it here (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=285289&highlight=howey+earnings).


Also, please explain why Presidents and other top officials having abandoned their literary agents is somehow wrong.

Using them as examples for us all to follow is wrong because we are not all presidents or top officials (whatever one of those may be), and so we cannot expect the same results using their methods.


Also, please don't insult self published writers. No one is forcing anyone to read self published novels, and I like that it'll be readers who get to decide rather than a few people from New York.

Avatar, you're telling people off again. I don't like that.

Also, I find it rather pot-and-kettle of you to object to anyone sneering at self-published writers when you've spent several posts sneering at agents and the writers who use them.

Let's cut the attitude in this thread, please, and start listening to one another.

Marian Perera
05-31-2014, 10:23 PM
Also, please explain why Presidents and other top officials having abandoned their literary agents is somehow wrong.

There's nothing wrong with Obama or some Kardashian abandoning their literary agent.

There is, however, something wrong with reasoning which goes, "President Obama did it and was successful. Kim Kardashian did it and was successful. Therefore we can do it and also be successful."

Because, as it's been pointed out, people know who President Obama is. They know who Kim Kardashian is (hell, I don't have a TV and wouldn't watch reality TV anyway and I've heard her name). They do not know who I am. Therefore, it's likely that while Obama could dismiss a literary agent and use an attorney instead, this strategy would not work for me.

Putputt
05-31-2014, 10:30 PM
If you don't like my links, then please explain why. Why exactly is Mr. Howey wrong? I've checked his methodology (culling Amazon data and estimating ranking to sales) and it's completely valid. Also, please explain why Presidents and other top officials having abandoned their literary agents is somehow wrong.


There is a thread here which looks at Author Earnings and explains why its math is actually pretty bad. Just use the search box and you'll find it.

Also, don't forget that Hugh Howey himself has an agent, which should tell you something... ;)

Marian Perera
05-31-2014, 10:31 PM
Also, don't forget that Hugh Howey himself has an agent, which should tell you something... ;)

It tells me he's not a top official yet?

Little Ming
05-31-2014, 10:40 PM
If you don't like my links, then please explain why. Why exactly is Mr. Howey wrong? I've checked his methodology (culling Amazon data and estimating ranking to sales) and it's completely valid.

Here you go:

http://brilligblogger.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-missionary-impulse.html

http://dearauthor.com/ebooks/how-not-to-lie-with-statistics/

http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/2014/02/16/some-thoughts-on-author-earnings/

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/02/11/very-very-very-early-thoughts-on-new-author-earnings-report/

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/analyzing-the-author-earnings-data-using-basic-analytics/

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=8706169&postcount=42

The sources are, in no partial order: an agent, two self-published authors, a hybrid published author, two statisticians, and a mathematician.

The general consensuses is, at best, this is a very, very, very, very narrow look at one retail site that no one actually knows how they make their bestsellers list. At worst, it's misleading, bad math, bad statistical analysis that some people have used to drive their agenda.


Also, please explain why Presidents and other top officials having abandoned their literary agents is somehow wrong.

No one said it was "wrong." But since most of us are not US presidents, top officials or James Patterson, I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.

I suppose I could point out that JK Rowling, Stephen King, Dan Brown, Stephenie Myers, George RR Martin, Amanda Hocking and even Huge Howey have literary agents--but again, since most of us here are not them, there's really no point to me saying so, right?

DoNoKharms
05-31-2014, 10:41 PM
For the top and most well connected people like President Obama, former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, the Bushes, and even author James Patterson, they've ditched their literary agents and gone with publishing attorneys. From The Hollywood Reporter (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/amanda-knox-book-bob-barnett-431138):


You are consistently arguing from outliers, whether talking about agents or authors.

Instead of looking at the small number of agents who are trashed by their clients, why not look at the much larger number of agents whose clients love and rave about them?

Instead of looking at the small number of self-published authors who have gone on to achieve great success, why not look at the much larger number who have barely sold a dozen copies?

Instead of looking at the small number of (mostly non-writer) people who are switching from literary agents to attorneys, why not look at the much larger pool of best-selling authors who are more than happy stick with their agents?

Look, every author's choice is personal, but that doesn't excuse bad math or arguments. The problem with the Hugh Howey approach is that it presumes a book will do equally well whether trade of self-published, and with that framework, self arguably makes more sense. But what it ignores is that many of us believe our books will do much, much better with the backing of a trade publisher than they will languishing amongst the millions of self-published titles. You're willfully ignoring all the other benefits the trade publish route brings, including the professional cover design, editing, marketing, publicity, not to mention being in actual book stores. This is the same reason the people you're citing don't apply; if you're famous enough that your book is guaranteed to sell no matter what you to, yeah, you can skip a lot of the hoops the rest of us have to go through. But that's not applicable to the rest of us who aren't massive, international celebrities, or established bestselling authors.

Little Ming
05-31-2014, 10:49 PM
It tells me he's not a top official yet?

Or maybe this whole thread is a cleverly convoluted way of hinting that Mr. Howey is running for president in 2016... :foilhat:

And since it is the weekend, here's logical fallacies via TVTropes (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LogicalFallacies?from=Main.YouFailLogicForever).

Putputt
05-31-2014, 11:09 PM
It tells me he's not a top official yet?

I was thinking more along the lines of lit agents aren't as obsolete as Avatar Fan has been saying, but that's true as well. :D

Avatar_fan
05-31-2014, 11:13 PM
I can see why focusing on Amazon may seem inadequate but they have a 65% market share (http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bea/article/62520-bea-2014-can-anyone-compete-with-amazon.html) of the book market both print and digital.


Research conducted in March by the Codex Group found that in the month Amazon's share of new book unit purchases was 41%, dominating 65% of all online new book units, print and digital. The company achieved that percentage by not only being the largest channel for e-books, where it had a 67% market share in March, but also by having a commanding slice of the sale of print books online, where its share in March was estimated at 64%.

Self published writers can also access online ebook sales from B and N and Apple's Ibooks Store as well but using just Amazon can give us a reasonable estimate of author earnings. If you look at Mr. Howey's methodology in the May report, you can see the math works out especially when its a relatively simple one (grab data with a spider and estimate ranking to sales).

Also, it's not just top officials with a book deal that don't have literary agents. A Digital Book World and Writer's Digest (http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/authors-views-on-the-value-of-agents/) survey found only 21% of trade writers, 16% of hybrid writers, and 1.6% of self published writers have literary agents. Out of the unagented, only a third are looking for literary agents:


Given the rosy estimates of what agents can do for authors, one might expect the proportion of published authors seeking literary agents to be quite high. However, just over a third of unagented published authors, 37.7%, are actively seeking agents: 35.2% indie-only, 45.5% traditional-only, and 37.13% hybrid.

You can also see from the survey that 20% of hybrid writers and 12% of trade writers used to have literary agents but don't have one know. Either they dropped them or were dropped.

Old Hack
05-31-2014, 11:26 PM
Also, it's not just top officials with a book deal that don't have literary agents. A Digital Book World and Writer's Digest (http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/authors-views-on-the-value-of-agents/) survey found only 21% of trade writers, 16% of hybrid writers, and 1.6% of self published writers have literary agents. Out of the unagented, only a third are looking for literary agents:



You can also see from the survey that 20% of hybrid writers and 12% of trade writers used to have literary agents but don't have one know. Either they dropped them or were dropped.

This is what the people behind the survey say about it:


The 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Survey (http://store.digitalbookworld.com/advantages-traditional-publishers-offer-authors-t3591) asked more than 2,800 published authors (those in the sample who had started, completed, or published a manuscript) their opinions on various ways that agents help authors. While the survey is a voluntary sample and may not be representative of the population of authors, the responses reported here reflect the opinions of a large number of authors on different publishing paths: 1,563 indie-only authors, 674 traditional-only authors, and 597 hybrid authors.

My bold.

The numbers at the end show that the people who responded were about three-fifths self-publishers, one fifth trade-published authors, and one-fifth hybrid authors. As very few self publishers are going to have agents, that's not a good sample to depend on when considering whether agents are worth having.

If you're going to cite a source, it's worth making sure first that it's reliable and unbiased.

Avatar_fan
05-31-2014, 11:32 PM
Still though, Old Hack, out of just trade writers only, the population that could arguably have most in need of literary agents, only 21% of trade writers have literary agents, 12% used to have one but don't have one now for whatever reason, and 66% don't have one. Among the unagented trade writers, less than half (45%) of trade writers are looking for a literary agent.

Writer's Digest serves the writer market so their sample should be a good one.

Putputt
05-31-2014, 11:33 PM
Or maybe this whole thread is a cleverly convoluted way of hinting that Mr. Howey is running for president in 2016... :foilhat:

And since it is the weekend, here's logical fallacies via TVTropes (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LogicalFallacies?from=Main.YouFailLogicForever).

Argghhhh! *resists call of evil website*

Little Ming
05-31-2014, 11:34 PM
I can see why focusing on Amazon may seem inadequate but they have a 65% market share (http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bea/article/62520-bea-2014-can-anyone-compete-with-amazon.html) of the book market both print and digital.

And if we had all the information from Amazon, the 65% would be true. But, as pointed out in one of the links above Amazon sales ~8 million books, and the report is only looking at the top sellers. It is an extremely small sample size.

It's not 65%. It's not even .65%


Self published writers can also access online ebook sales from B and N and Apple's Ibooks Store as well but using just Amazon can give us a reasonable estimate of author earnings. If you look at Mr. Howey's methodology in the May report, you can see the math works out especially when its a relatively simple one (grab data with a spider and estimate ranking to sales).

No it doesn't. Please read the links in my post. As I said there are two statisticians and a mathematician who make it very clear the math does not work out.


Also, it's not just top officials with a book deal that don't have literary agents. A Digital Book World and Writer's Digest (http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/authors-views-on-the-value-of-agents/) survey found only 21% of trade writers, 16% of hybrid writers, and 1.6% of self published writers have literary agents. Out of the unagented, only a third are looking for literary agents:



You can also see from the survey that 20% of hybrid writers and 12% of trade writers used to have literary agents but don't have one know. Either they dropped them or were dropped.

From the same article:


Overall, the published authors in the survey were quite positive in their estimates of what agents offered authors. Asked whether they strongly disagreed, disagreed, neither agreed nor disagreed, agreed, or strongly agreed with several statement about what agents do, the majority of authors agreed or strongly agreed with each of the statements presented with one exception. Authors were unsure whether agents were helpful to authors who are self-publishing, with 47.6% neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the statement.
(Emphasis mine)

The appraisals of the value of agents was indeed quite high, with over 80% of published authors agreeing that agents are worth their commissions.

Marian Perera
05-31-2014, 11:38 PM
Among the unagented trade writers, less than half (45%) of trade writers are looking for a literary agent.

Personally, I'm a trade published writer who is not currently looking for a literary agent.

However, I plan to do so in the future, once I have a fantasy manuscript good to go.

Therefore, I don't think that a percentage of trade published writers not looking for a literary agent can be extrapolated to mean "Writers do not ever need literary agents, and literary agents do nothing that literary attorneys couldn't do."

Little Ming
05-31-2014, 11:42 PM
This is what the people behind the survey say about it:



My bold.

The numbers at the end show that the people who responded were about three-fifths self-publishers, one fifth trade-published authors, and one-fifth hybrid authors. As very few self publishers are going to have agents, that's not a good sample to depend on when considering whether agents are worth having.

If you're going to cite a source, it's worth making sure first that it's reliable and unbiased.

I'm also confused at this:


The 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Survey (http://store.digitalbookworld.com/advantages-traditional-publishers-offer-authors-t3591) asked more than 2,800 published authors (those in the sample who had started, completed, or published a manuscript) their opinions on various ways that agents help authors.

It seems to imply these authors are both published, and possibly not published but just started or completed a book. Are they counting authors who are just starting their books?


Still though, Old Hack, out of just trade writers only, the population that could arguably have most in need of literary agents, only 21% of trade writers have literary agents, 12% used to have one but don't have one now for whatever reason, and 66% don't have one. Among the unagented trade writers, less than half (45%) of trade writers are looking for a literary agent.

Writer's Digest serves the writer market so their sample should be a good one.

I remember you posted this survey before, and I remember asking if anyone actually had the raw data. As pointed out above, I'm confused about their sample. Authors who have started their books? Have just completed them? Have already published them?

And without knowing how these authors are published (Big5, independent, small publishers, e-pub only, e-pub first, print-only, POD, vanity, etc) it's hard to know how these numbers break down.

Avatar_fan
05-31-2014, 11:44 PM
In statistics, a small sample size can be extrapolated to the population as a whole. Amazon does have 65% market share. If they didn't have such power, the publishers wouldn't be in such an adversarial position against Amazon right now.

Avatar_fan
05-31-2014, 11:47 PM
Also, Little Ming, the raw data (http://store.digitalbookworld.com/advantages-traditional-publishers-offer-authors-t3591) from the DBW/Writer's Digest survey can be found in the link but to access the data set, it'll cost $295. Perhaps universities will have access to it in university libraries.

Aggy B.
05-31-2014, 11:51 PM
In statistics, a small sample size can be extrapolated to the population as a whole. Amazon does have 65% market share. If they didn't have such power, the publishers wouldn't be in such an adversarial position against Amazon right now.

But the sample has to be representative of the whole in order to be applied to the whole. BEST SELLERS are obviously not representative of the whole because they are, by default, in the very top percentage. Their performance/profits are not typical of the whole.

DoNoKharms
05-31-2014, 11:55 PM
In statistics, a small sample size can be extrapolated to the population as a whole. Amazon does have 65% market share. If they didn't have such power, the publishers wouldn't be in such an adversarial position against Amazon right now.

Yes, there are times when a sample CAN be extrapolated to a larger data set. There are also many, many times when it CANNOT be, when doing so presents faulty conclusions. The problem with Howey's data isn't just that it looks at Amazon, it's that it looks JUST at Amazon, JUST at best-sellers, and JUST at sales for a two-day period. Extrapolating out yearly earnings across all booksellers from a data pool that limited is a perfect example of bad statistics.

I work in a digital media field that's also very chart based (mobile gaming). If I applied Howey's methodology to my app (looking at a 2-day window when it was in the best-selling category then applying it outwards for a year), I would be off by 250%, by literally tens of millions of dollars.

Whether or not an author should self-publish or trade publish is a subjective debate with strong arguments both ways. But the fact that Hugh Howey's report is objectively bad math is inarguable, objective. Multiple statisticians and mathematicians with no dog in the fight either way have weighed in on the many flaws in his methodology.

If you are genuinely interested in discussing this, please read some of Little Ming's links (I'd especially recommend http://dearauthor.com/ebooks/how-not-to-lie-with-statistics/ and http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=8706169&postcount=42).

Avatar_fan
05-31-2014, 11:57 PM
The Codex Group didn't look at just bestsellers. They looked at the percentage Amazon got with all book sales whether bestseller or not, and they found Amazon sold 65% of all books print and digital.


The company achieved that percentage by not only being the largest channel for e-books, where it had a 67% market share in March, but also by having a commanding slice of the sale of print books online, where its share in March was estimated at 64%.

This is the same market research firm that publishers use so I don't think we can question their numbers.

Aggy B.
06-01-2014, 12:03 AM
The Codex Group didn't look at just bestsellers. They looked at the percentage Amazon got with all book sales whether bestseller or not, and they found Amazon sold 65% of all books print and digital.

This is the same market research firm that publishers use so I don't think we can question their numbers.

Yes.

And Howey's numbers looked at Best Sellers in a very specific date range. His statistics are questionable.

Also, your original info about the Codex Group seems to say they looked at online sales only - print and digital. Which is not the same as all sales. But I could be misinterpreting how you wrote that.

Little Ming
06-01-2014, 12:14 AM
...
Whether or not an author should self-publish or trade publish is a subjective debate with strong arguments both ways.

To be fair, if you're looking at a specific author and a specific book there's not so many "strong arguments" or "subjective debates". It's a business decision that each author needs to make based on his or her specific situation.

Things only tend to get heated when people try to apply broad generalizations to specific situations; or look at specific situations and try to generalize more broadly where the same factors don't necessarily apply; or insist that their one specific way of doing things is best for all authors and all books.

As for this thread, I'm starting to feel a little nauseam-ed (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ArgumentumAdNauseam)so I'm going to take a break.

DoNoKharms
06-01-2014, 12:17 AM
To be fair, if you're looking at a specific author and a specific book there's not so many "strong arguments" or "subjective debates". It's a business decision that each author needs to make based on his or her specific situation.


Sorry; that's actually what I was trying to say, just poorly articulated. An individual author might see strong arguments either way based on their goals, personal situation, etc. But that's not extrapolatable (ironic!) to "here's good advice for new authors".

Avatar_fan
06-01-2014, 12:27 AM
The Codex Group looked at all sales not just online sales whether you visited a bookstore or went online.

On Howey (http://authorearnings.com/may-2014-author-earnings-report/), using the Amazon Bestseller list to compare self pub and trade writers is perfectly valid. I think people are confusing it with the NYT bestseller lists and it's not just the top 10 or so.

If you check, this contains ebooks in the tens of thousands which Amazon has ranked. To rank on Amazon's algorithms, you'd have to make a sale.


A quick recap on our methodology: Using a custom software spider, we can crawl every Amazon bestseller list and pull info from each book’s product page html. This data goes into a spreadsheet, which gives us the price, ranking, average review, and much more for every ranked e-book on Amazon.

So if you sold something on Amazon Kindle store, you're ranked (http://ryancaseybooks.com/amazon-ranking-myths/) and you're included in Howey's data set. It's not just the top sellers that "Amazon bestsellers" would imply.

Aggy B.
06-01-2014, 12:51 AM
The Codex Group looked at all sales not just online sales whether you visited a bookstore or went online.

On Howey (http://authorearnings.com/may-2014-author-earnings-report/), using the Amazon Bestseller list to compare self pub and trade writers is perfectly valid. I think people are confusing it with the NYT bestseller lists and it's not just the top 10 or so.

If you check, this contains ebooks in the tens of thousands which Amazon has ranked. To rank on Amazon's algorithms, you'd have to make a sale.

So if you sold something on Amazon Kindle store, you're ranked (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-kukral/cracking-amazons-algorith_b_4296084.html) and you're included in Howey's data set. It's not just the top sellers that "Amazon bestsellers" would imply.

It is certain that you don't have to be a top seller to show up in those lists Howey is apparently trawling for data. My book is currently #89 in the Top Paid Western Science Fiction Kindle list. Know how many copies I've sold on Amazon this MONTH?

1

Yes, one copy. And on that day that copy sold, I was in the top 10 on that list. But trying to extrapolate any sort of profits/success across the rest of the month based on that one day is kind of silly. As would be trying to extrapolate any sort of profits/success for the month based on it's current rank or place on the best seller list.

Avatar_fan
06-01-2014, 01:12 AM
It aggregates the data though, Aggy B. With the aggregated data the spider obtained from ranked self pub and trade writers, you can see where Mr. Howey is getting his conclusion from, which is that as a whole, not individually, self pub writers are holding their own against trade writers.

Aggy B.
06-01-2014, 01:25 AM
It aggregates the data though, Aggy B. With the aggregated data the spider obtained from ranked self pub and trade writers, you can see where Mr. Howey is getting his conclusion from, which is that as a whole, not individually, self pub writers are holding their own against trade writers.

I'm just thinking the data set is... thin. Andre Norton's Wind in the Stone was #8 on the list the day I was at #9. And it's still at #8 so it's likely selling with much more frequency than my book. But on the day I was #9 it would have looked like both books were very close in sales. So, as others have pointed out, those snapshots of the data are flawed, but they are being represented in a way that says "This is true for the whole month." They would need to be collected over time and analyzed in context. (If I sold a book today it would put me back in the top 20, if not the top 10 for that particular list.)

And it still doesn't even touch on the books that are not on any of those lists, but are a part of the Amazon catalog. Books that might have sold one copy a year ago. Or books that haven't sold any copies. They aren't being accounted for because they aren't "ranked", but I wonder if the statistics are the same. Are trade published and self-published books equally distributed in the "unsuccessful" part of the curve?

Avatar_fan
06-01-2014, 01:39 AM
Howey mentioned that the unsuccessful self pub writers (meaning no rank) could be compared to those not accepted by agents/editors in the trade world. It's not like there's a wall between self pub and trade, I'm thinking some of those not accepted by agents/editors wind up self published. At least, it's there for a reader to find instead of sitting in someone's drawer or more likely, computer.

Aggy B.
06-01-2014, 02:33 AM
Howey mentioned that the unsuccessful self pub writers (meaning no rank) could be compared to those not accepted by agents/editors in the trade world. It's not like there's a wall between self pub and trade, I'm thinking some of those not accepted by agents/editors wind up self published. At least, it's there for a reader to find instead of sitting in someone's drawer or more likely, computer.

But isn't the overall argument with those numbers about self and indie pubs, that self-pub is somehow better/more viable for the author? Because having a massive chunk of self-pub authors that can't sell their work, kind of defeats that argument.

But we're moving away from the original topic which was, why not just have an IP lawyer and work as ones own agent?

Personally, I just don't have the contacts to really sell my novel successfully. But my agent does. And while he's working the business side, I can write a new book. And then one after that.

An IP lawyer would only be useful to me if I had a contract to vet.

DoNoKharms
06-01-2014, 02:38 AM
Howey mentioned that the unsuccessful self pub writers (meaning no rank) could be compared to those not accepted by agents/editors in the trade world. It's not like there's a wall between self pub and trade, I'm thinking some of those not accepted by agents/editors wind up self published. At least, it's there for a reader to find instead of sitting in someone's drawer or more likely, computer.

You're right, but I'm not sure this supports your case.

Look, the following facts feel indisputable to me:

- The vast majority of manuscripts sent to agents do not get picked up.
- The vast majority of self-published books do not sell well.
- In either scenario, success is very very very difficult.

The irony is that the self vs. trade 'debate' gets so much traffic online, but is practically applicable to very few writers: because so few manuscripts sent to agents even get picked up (less than 1%, right?), for 99% of aspiring manuscripts, the options realistically are 'self publish' or 'trunk it'. For authors that can't get trade published, this isn't a relevant question, because the option isn't available.

The true 'choice' would be a scenario where an author has sent a manuscript to an agent and the agent has offered rep. I think you would have a relatively difficult time making the case that IN GENERAL, that author should decline the offer and self-publish instead. If the author doesn't take the offer, they'll face a financial burden to get their book professional state (cover, editing, etc.), the financial (and time) burden of marketing and promotion, etc. And even once released, the chances of their book doing comparably as well are much lower (compare the percent of trade books that sell, say, 100 copies, vs the percent of self-pub books.) In this scenario, one of the biggest gatekeepers of trade publishing has been crossed, while all the big challenges of self-pub remain. And yes, an agent will take 15%, but that's 15% of money you don't have yet and that the agent will attempt to help you earn; that's very different from the money currently sitting in your bank account.

Of course, there are plenty of good individual reasons why an author might choose the self-pub route. But I maintain that the general argument has not been effectively made.

Terie
06-01-2014, 12:35 PM
It aggregates the data though, Aggy B. With the aggregated data the spider obtained from ranked self pub and trade writers, you can see where Mr. Howey is getting his conclusion from, which is that as a whole, not individually, self pub writers are holding their own against trade writers.

Howey's spider collected all that data, but he drew his conclusions from a few genre bestseller lists:


The bestseller lists used were Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy, and Romance. All of the subcategories within these three main genres were also included. Why choose these genres? Because they are the most popular with readers. Our data guru ran a spider through overall bestseller lists and found that these three genres accounted for 70% of the top 100 bestsellers on Amazon and well over half of the top 1,000 bestsellers. Future earnings reports will look at all of fiction, but for now, we started with a simpler data set that captured the vast majority of what readers purchase.

See that part I bolded? Howey said quite clearly that his conclusions were not drawn from the full aggregation of data. And drawing long- and wide-range conclusions based on just just a day or two of data for a few genre bestseller lists is only one of the many statistical errors his 'report' makes.

You might want to consider that if you can argue this strenuously from a point of your own misreading, what other faulty conclusions have you drawn from misreading?

Avatar_fan
06-01-2014, 05:34 PM
Terie, you're looking at an older report, his 7k report (http://authorearnings.com/the-report/). The May 2014 earnings report (http://authorearnings.com/may-2014-author-earnings-report/) has a wider data set.

Howey is looking at the collective efforts of self pub authors against the publishers. We can't forget, publishers are huge multinational corporations and for self pub authors to be competing effectively, and in some cases, outcompeting, speaks volumes at the new level playing field that ebooks have created. Your own individual success will vary. Howey wasn't saying otherwise.

Old Hack
06-01-2014, 07:53 PM
Terie, you're looking at an older report, his 7k report (http://authorearnings.com/the-report/). The May 2014 earnings report (http://authorearnings.com/may-2014-author-earnings-report/) has a wider data set.

Nevertheless, his report is still dependent upon a very narrow sample, and he still draws some very unsafe conclusions from the resulting unreliable dataset. Which means that Terie's point here remains valid:


You might want to consider that if you can argue this strenuously from a point of your own misreading, what other faulty conclusions have you drawn from misreading?

I also find this part of your comment very interesting:


Howey is looking at the collective efforts of self pub authors against the publishers. We can't forget, publishers are huge multinational corporations and for self pub authors to be competing effectively, and in some cases, outcompeting, speaks volumes at the new level playing field that ebooks have created. Your own individual success will vary. Howey wasn't saying otherwise

My bold.

Why do you have such a combative attitude towards trade publishers? They're not out to cheat or trick authors. They're not evil corporations trying to take over the world. Yes, some of them are huge multinational corporations but some of them aren't, and even so, they're still run and staffed by people. Real people, just like you and me, and almost all of them are talented, generous, thoughtful and genuinely passionate about the books they publish and read.

They do good work. I don't understand why you think self publishers are "against" them, and I don't think such an attitude is helpful or correct.

Laer Carroll
06-02-2014, 03:34 AM
I recently did research on getting my books into publication. As part of it I looked at the specific imprints in the Big 5 where agents might try to place them.

All of them are relatively small parts of the Big Bad 5. The editors almost all have long been working in the SF/F field. Some are published writers themselves. Some are well-known fans who’ve been active in fandom for decades.

Maybe the SF/F editors are unusual and all other editors are the fabled corporate drones whose sole purpose in life is to cheat and crush the hopes of new writers. But I find that hard to believe.

Another factor to consider is that in addition to the Big 5 there are 16 mid-level SF/F publishers who have been in the business a long time and regularly publish 79-20 new titles a year (according to published industry numbers). None of them have a reputation of being blood suckers.

The Evil Trade Publisher belief seems to me to be one of those writers’ urban myths. Dearly beloved by the conspiracy theorists but wrong.

Little Ming
06-02-2014, 04:07 AM
... None of them have a reputation of being blood suckers.

Damn. Does that mean I should stop sending packets of blood with my query letters?

atthebeach
06-02-2014, 10:16 AM
Welcome, Avatar_fan.

This is an enlightening discussion, but perhaps we can look at it in a new light. It is fine for you to point out someone who had success with only an attorney. But showing success of one does not mean this is ideal for many.

Statistics can be tricky, and are often skewed for persuasion. As was previously stated, to take a few outliers and extrapolate from there can be very dangerous.

So, I can see and respect your opinion here, but I hope you can also agree to mutual respect that myself and others may have different opinions.

If we peel back our own feelings and look at facts, then we can see there are many questions and some leaps in logic that just do not allow definitive conclusions as you are trying to suggest.

In other words, I appreciate you trying to convince others that they can save money by just using a paid hourly attorney, but can you also appreciate and respect that myself and others disagree, and are even concerned at what the author can miss going that route?

My husband is an attorney, so I do recognize their value. But, if I were advising an author, which this thread does, I would recommend they find an agent who will do what an agent does.

You can have the opinion that a lawyer hired for only a particular service (eg. read one contract) is better than an agent.

Many of us can have the opinion that an author is better off finding an agent for representation.

But then there are facts (not opinions) that cannot be disputed. An attorney's job description in this instance is limited, while an agent brings a more robust set of services to the author.

You don't have to think an agent is necessary, but to have a logical discussion, you must recognize that they provide more for the author, period. Whether you place value in what additional contacts or services they provide is up to you, but it is important that these threads give a rounded picture to readers, and that we acknowledge the differences.

That is all, I just wanted to perhaps help you see why so many do not want to back down, because while you may feel confident in the attorney-only route, and you may feel that is the future, there is just no way that the facts or small sample size discussed here can lead to that conclusion.

Opinion yes, fact no. Make sense?

So I appreciate the spirit of your message, but we need to agree to disagree on the opinions and conclusions drawn from the facts. This is a great place for this, where we can all see different sides and make our own decisions from them.

Nice to meet you, and best wishes :)

Avatar_fan
06-02-2014, 11:38 PM
Sure, we can agree to disagree. I do think agents aren't all that needed anymore especially when you're self publishing, and if you don't want to deal with the business side of publishing like negotiations, other authors have used creative solutions on this aspect.

First, here's hybrid romance author Sylvia Day (http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/hybrid-author-sylvia-day-the-world-cannot-survive-without-the-publishing-industry/). Haven't read any of her books since she writes romance, but I do admire her business acumen. She used her literary agent as a sounding board as well as a negotiator all the while not afraid to dump them if they displease her (haven't quoted that part but she's on her fifth literary agent).


There was a whole strategic discussion going on between me and Kim. Berkley [Penguin] had a hard time wrapping their head around that they were not competing with another publisher or my past experience with them; what they were competing with was me as a self-publisher. It took them close to a month to wrap their head around the idea that they would have to come up with the right amount of money to have me stop selling it myself.

So, the negotiations went on for about a month and during that time we had a lot of discussions with them about it. I knew that the traditional model for them when they did pick up a book that was self-published was to jack the price up which killed sales. I told them that they would have to revamp their whole digital strategy for books, that they couldn’t jack up the price.

If you read the whole interview, she used her literary agent as an adviser and a liaison between her and the publisher.

A partner/spouse/family member/trusted friend could indeed handle the negotiations/sounding board aspects provided they study up on the business (I'm perfectly willing to do this myself) and save yourself the 15%. Bestselling author Janet Evanovich (http://www.evanovich.com/aboutjanet/janets-bio/), for instance, enlisted her son (http://www.deadline.com/2010/07/janet-evanovich-shopping-new-deal-at-12-5-million-per-book/) as her literary agent and he handles the negotiations for her (she enlisted her whole family to run aspects of the business).


In ’96 my daughter Alex, a film and photography school graduate, came on board and created the website. Alex does it all … the E-mail, the comics, the store, the online advertising and the newsletter. Both Peter and Alex work full-time for Evanovich, Inc. I’m their only client.

My husband, Pete, has his doctorate in mathematics from Rutgers University and now manages all aspects of the business and tries to keep me on time (a thankless, impossible job!) … plus he does a little golfing and skiing.

There's other options out there.

Avatar_fan
06-03-2014, 01:09 AM
Posting a correction, according to the Publisher's Weekly article (http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bea/article/62520-bea-2014-can-anyone-compete-with-amazon.html), Amazon has 65% market share of the online book market print and digital, which makes up 41% of total book purchases. Bookstore chains have 22% of total book purchases, both print and digital.

Old Hack
06-03-2014, 01:32 AM
If you read the whole interview, she used her literary agent as an adviser and a liaison between her and the publisher.

That's something that all good agents do for their clients. It's an obvious part of their job. For you to find it worth remarking on suggests to me that you know very little about what literary agents do.


A partner/spouse/family member/trusted friend could indeed handle the negotiations/sounding board aspects provided they study up on the business (I'm perfectly willing to do this myself) and save yourself the 15%.

Would you expect your partner/spouse/family member/trusted friend to be able to work as your lawyer, your accountant, your doctor, if the studied up on the business? No? Then why do you think they could take on the role of literary agent with any success?


Bestselling author Janet Evanovich (http://www.evanovich.com/aboutjanet/janets-bio/), for instance, enlisted her son (http://www.deadline.com/2010/07/janet-evanovich-shopping-new-deal-at-12-5-million-per-book/) as her literary agent and he handles the negotiations for her (she enlisted her whole family to run aspects of the business).

Her son looks after her financial affairs. From the page you linked to:


My son, Peter, a Dartmouth College graduate, assumed responsibility for everything financial. He’s the guy who pulls his hair out at tax time and cracks his knuckles when the stock market dips.

I see no suggestion on Ms Evanovich's website that he acts as her literary agent.


There's other options out there.

There are. And most of them will result in you signing a contract which isn't as good for you as it could have been.

Putputt
06-03-2014, 01:35 AM
Sure, we can agree to disagree. I do think agents aren't all that needed anymore especially when you're self publishing,

You might want to bring that up with Hugh Howey, who is represented by an agent. I'm sorry I keep having to bring HH up. I'm not a fan of his, but he is such a huge figure in the self-publishing circle, and I see you are a follower, so maybe you should bring up this subject with him and see what he has to say about the worth of lit agents? As far as I know, he's been very positive about his agent, who, according to him, has opened doors which he couldn't have opened on his own.



First, here's hybrid romance author Sylvia Day (http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/hybrid-author-sylvia-day-the-world-cannot-survive-without-the-publishing-industry/). Haven't read any of her books since she writes romance, but I do admire her business acumen. She used her literary agent as a sounding board as well as a negotiator all the while not afraid to dump them if they displease her (haven't quoted that part but she's on her fifth literary agent).



If you read the whole interview, she used her literary agent as an adviser and a liaison between her and the publisher. Bold mine. I don't like to say "used" when it comes to other people...especially when it comes to a relationship I see more as a partnership. Would you say that about your business partners? Your fellow writers? Your reviewers? Your readers?

Agents are not tools. ;)

Also, I am under the impression that this is a pretty typical author-agent relationship. My agent not only shops my MSs to publishers, she also edits my drafts extensively. She's not just involved in the business process, she's also really hands-on throughout the creative process, which is something I really appreciate (and I think many agents do this too). If the relationship doesn't work out, we are both free to walk away (after giving a 30-day notice) and she only gets paid for the projects that she's sold for the duration of our contract, which is quite reasonable.



A partner/spouse/family member/trusted friend could indeed handle the negotiations/sounding board aspects provided they study up on the business (I'm perfectly willing to do this myself) and save yourself the 15%. Bestselling author Janet Evanovich (http://www.evanovich.com/aboutjanet/janets-bio/), for instance, enlisted her son (http://www.deadline.com/2010/07/janet-evanovich-shopping-new-deal-at-12-5-million-per-book/) as her literary agent and he handles the negotiations for her (she enlisted her whole family to run aspects of the business).



There's other options out there.Again, bold mine.

You say "save yourself the 15%", but how do you think Janet Evanovich's family is getting paid to run the business aspect of her writing? I doubt they do it purely out of the goodness of their hearts.

Time, effort, know-how, and a sizeable contact list are needed to negotiate effectively on someone's behalf. If you know someone who not only has the resources to do this, but also loves you enough to do it for you for nothing, then that's great for you. But my spouse has his own career to think about. All of my friends have their own careers. Even if one of them happens to be in the industry, I wouldn't dream of going, "Hey, wanna break your back trying to sell my book and not get paid for it? We're friends, right?"

Yes, there are other options out there. One of my close AW friends went down the self-pubbing route and is doing extremely well as far as I know. She does not have an agent, but her book is chugging along and garnering good reviews. But she went into this with eyes wide open and a whole slew of research under her feet. She did not approach this with a "Agents are totes outdated! Screw them!" attitude, more of a "Based on all of the information I have gathered, I think this option works best FOR ME" mindset. Which I think is what we're all trying to achieve here. What works best for me isn't necessarily what works best for her. What works best for Hugh Howey isn't necessarily what works best for Obama. (Again, I urge you to bring this question up with Hugh Howey. He's given interviews about his lit agent, so I feel like he might give you some good insight about what to expect from lit agents.) And what works for you isn't necessarily what works best for everyone else.

Marian Perera
06-03-2014, 01:43 AM
Would you expect your partner/spouse/family member/trusted friend to be able to work as your lawyer, your accountant, your doctor, if the studied up on the business?

This also makes me wonder what "studied up on the business" means.

Could my cousin negotiate and act as a sounding board if she studied hard enough? Maybe.

Does my cousin recognize good manuscripts, or know which editors are looking for what, or know how to edit a manuscript, or know how to sell foreign rights? I don't think so, and I couldn't reasonably expect her to do all that successfully for me without 1. getting more experience than just studying up on the business and 2. getting paid accordingly.

Avatar_fan
06-03-2014, 02:34 AM
Janet Evanovich's son, Peter, is her literary agent. I linked to it in that post but it must not have been noticed.

Deadline.com (http://www.deadline.com/2010/07/janet-evanovich-shopping-new-deal-at-12-5-million-per-book/)


So, just as I reported, author Janet Evanovich’s agent/son Peter is shopping a new book deal after St. Martin’s Press turned down a $50 million, 4-book extension.

Her author bio quoted earlier said he only works for her.

Hoplite
06-03-2014, 02:41 AM
Janet Evanovich's son, Peter, is her literary agent. I linked to it in that post but it must not have been noticed.

Deadline.com (http://www.deadline.com/2010/07/janet-evanovich-shopping-new-deal-at-12-5-million-per-book/)



Her author bio quoted earlier said he only works for her.

...and does her agent/accountant/son get compensated for all this work he does?

I understand the point you're trying to make: family/friends doing literary agent work might be cheaper than going through an established agency. But you're still paying someone to do a service for you, the author, that you've outsourced...which goes against your earlier posts about needing nothing but a contract lawyer.

Avatar_fan
06-03-2014, 02:49 AM
I disagree, Hoplite. I posted the Evanovich example for people who don't want to deal with negotiations and such. You can have your significant other/kin do it. After all, Ms. Evanovich did it. She probably wanted to help her son out by giving him something to do to help out with the family business.

A writer can certainly do all the studying of the business and negotiations himself (especially with self publishing and you get an offer), if they're so inclined, with a literary attorney doing the contracts work. I don't see the added value literary agents bring any longer.

Aggy B.
06-03-2014, 02:55 AM
I love my family dearly, but none of them have the skills necessary to help me sell my novels to a big publisher. Or even a mid-size publisher. They all mean well and would love to help if they could, but they lack the contacts and knowledge of the publishing world that I really need.

That doesn't mean that other folks would have as much trouble with putting their writing career in the hands of a son or husband. And it doesn't mean that some folks aren't better off self publishing, but for me (and for others) there are very valid and practical reasons to have a good agent representing us. Because the agent has skills that I don't have, and skills beyond what a lawyer could offer. And, unlike the lawyer who gets paid whether I succeed or not, the agent gets paid when I do.

Avatar_fan
06-03-2014, 03:06 AM
Aggy B, a literary agent has more than one client. Just because you don't get paid, doesn't mean she doesn't either.

Aggy B.
06-03-2014, 03:20 AM
Yes. My literary agent has more clients than just me, but he doesn't get paid unless he sells someone's work. And it is in his best interest to sell as much as possible.

But my point there is that I don't have to pay him to put my work in front of editors (a skill most IP lawyers are unlikely to have anyway), whereas even if I had a lawyer who was connected I would be paying him/her by the hour up front. That's not a viable model for me at this point.

JJ Litke
06-03-2014, 03:21 AM
I'm a graphic designer, and I don't work for free. Okay, for my husband or my mom I'd do a small amount of free work. What I would seriously never do is ask my daughter to work for free for me. There's so much wrong with that I don't even know where to begin. If she were an agent, and if she were the right kind for my genre, I would absolutely pay her her full percentage, and I'd bet the author in the given example is, too.

Out of all the suggestions for possible career paths in this thread (and many of them are great options to consider) the absolute worst and least viable is the concept of getting friends and family to do the work for you. People lose friends and family pulling stunts like that.

Marian Perera
06-03-2014, 03:31 AM
You can have your significant other/kin do it.

Just curious - how do you know when your SO or relatives have studied long enough about the business that they're ready to negotiate with publishers on your behalf?

Should you go by their self-assessment of their readiness, or give them some sort of test first?

Avatar_fan
06-03-2014, 03:32 AM
Oops, I think people are getting confused with what I wrote. Of course people shouldn't work for free, and Evanovich's family certainly doesn't. I've been reading up on self publishers and some have been doing so well, that their husbands/wives quit their jobs to go full time in the writing biz doing marketing and other things. Then, I read about Evanovich and her family business.

Also, Aggy B, a literary agent has an interest to sell as much as possible but it doesn't mean it has to be your work. If your work doesn't sell to editors if you're going the trade route, she can easily drop you, which is why a literary agent and a writer doesn't necessarily have the same interest.

Avatar_fan
06-03-2014, 03:34 AM
Just curious - how do you know when your SO or relatives have studied long enough about the business that they're ready to negotiate with publishers on your behalf?

Should you go by their self-assessment of their readiness, or give them some sort of test first?

You can try asking Ms. Evanovich for her opinion. I don't think we can question her success or business judgment.

Filigree
06-03-2014, 03:34 AM
Avatar_fan, I've watched this thread with interest. I'd like to ask, in the spirit of a good old fashioned rhetorical debate, which conclusion are you trying to promote?

Do you want to convince self-pub authors that agents are completely unnecessary or even detrimental? Or are you pointing out that authors need to do intensive research on all the business relationships they create? Are you warning that the publishing industry is changing with amazing speed, and that it's tricky to separate genuine opportunities from snake-oil?

We already know that some high profile self-published authors have allied with agents, and some haven't. We've given reasons why most of us may not have relatives capable of acting as professional agents for our careers. Likewise, we've pointed out when an author might be able to use a la carte services from an intellectual property lawyer, and when they might want a longer business relationship with a capable literary agent. There's an entire section on AW geared toward helping us make those informed decisions. Not to mention the dozens of other online forums, blogs, and nonprofit consumer groups dedicated to such goals.

Many of us who have agents know they do a lot more than siphon off a commission. I've had two decent literary agents over the years, and neither of them were predatory in any way. I have three art agents who charge far more than 15%, but they earn every bit of their commission.

So, decide what case you want to make, and please give me more than 'Hugh Howey said... '

Aggy B.
06-03-2014, 03:38 AM
Yup. And a publisher may decide my work didn't sell enough and drop me. But my literary agent is unlikely to put in a lot of work trying to sell my novels and then walk away empty handed. (Of course, that happens, but that's not the way anyone wants to operate - working for free.)

Avatar_fan
06-03-2014, 03:41 AM
Filigree, I like that it's an open ended conversation and there really wasn't a plan. I just post and then a torrent of outrage/comments come at me so I respond, which brings on another torrent of outrage/comments. It just sort of ended up this way.

Marian Perera
06-03-2014, 03:54 AM
You can try asking Ms. Evanovich for her opinion. I don't think we can question her success or business judgment.

Given that you're suggesting writers use their SOs and relatives as agents (once they've "studied up about the business"), I find it interesting that when I ask for clarifications and further information about this particular business plan, the answer is "ask Ms. Evanovich".

Janet Evanovich isn't the one suggesting writers turn their SOs and relatives into unpaid agents. You are.

Filigree
06-03-2014, 03:58 AM
Also, Aggy B, a literary agent has an interest to sell as much as possible but it doesn't mean it has to be your work. If your work doesn't sell to editors if you're going the trade route, she can easily drop you, which is why a literary agent and a writer doesn't necessarily have the same interest.

I had to split this one off separately, because I can answer it from my own experience.

In 1991 a fairly big name agent heard me read one of my short stories after it won a writing contest at a large convention. The agent asked if I had any longer work. Six months later, I did.

Bear in mind, I was probably not publishable yet. He read over what I had, made some informed suggestions (some of which I adopted), and he spent the next eight years trying to sell two of my big ass epic fantasy novels to the major imprints. I have seen the query letters and email correspondence, and since talked to some editors who remembered it. In the end, the story I wanted to tell was too ambitious for my skills, and I couldn't afford the intensive workshopping that might have sped up my development. I also jumped into a career that left me little time for writing for another ten years.

When we mutually decided to part ways, he showed me who he'd queried and when, for my own future efforts. He asked me to keep his agency in mind if I did anything else. And he never charged me a dime. The only reason he's not my agent now? I'm writing in a genre his group doesn't rep. He has many other higher profile clients he reps now, including some NYT bestsellers.

In my case, it was my own lack of skill that sidelined me, not my agent. The second novel I pitched - after I figured out how to write - sold unagented in two months.

Putputt
06-03-2014, 03:58 AM
Avatar_fan, I've watched this thread with interest. I'd like to ask, in the spirit of a good old fashioned rhetorical debate, which conclusion are you trying to promote?

Do you want to convince self-pub authors that agents are completely unnecessary or even detrimental? Or are you pointing out that authors need to do intensive research on all the business relationships they create? Are you warning that the publishing industry is changing with amazing speed, and that it's tricky to separate genuine opportunities from snake-oil?

We already know that some high profile self-published authors have allied with agents, and some haven't. We've given reasons why most of us may not have relatives capable of acting as professional agents for our careers. Likewise, we've pointed out when an author might be able to use a la carte services from an intellectual property lawyer, and when they might want a longer business relationship with a capable literary agent. There's an entire section on AW geared toward helping us make those informed decisions. Not to mention the dozens of other online forums, blogs, and nonprofit consumer groups dedicated to such goals.

Many of us who have agents know they do a lot more than siphon off a commission. I've had two decent literary agents over the years, and neither of them were predatory in any way. I have three art agents who charge far more than 15%, but they earn every bit of their commission.

So, decide what case you want to make, and please give me more than 'Hugh Howey said... '

Yep, this. And if you go down the "Hugh Howey said . . ." route, at least acknowledge the fact that Hugh Howey has an agent (a fact which I noticed Avatar fan avoids to acknowledge . . . ;))

Aggy B.
06-03-2014, 03:58 AM
It's less outrage and more individuals pointing out that what you're espousing simply doesn't work for every author. Just like having an agent doesn't work for every author.

In general, I would think that for folks with little or no capital and no contacts in the publishing world pursuing a publishing contract on their own is a bad idea. Same with having little or no capital and little or no platform/audience and trying to self publish. There's a monetary investment to be made to be successful (paying a professional editor, cover designer, copy editor/layout person) or a steep learning curve to acquire all those skills beyond a basic level.

As you add money/resources the playing field levels off somewhat and options that were not practical or profitable before become more viable. But that's why saying President Obama does something a certain way doesn't help the rest of us - because we aren't him and have neither his contacts nor resources.

Publishing is not a one size fits all venture and each of us has to consider the options available to us and not just say "Well soandso did this and it worked for them so I'll do the same thing".

Avatar_fan
06-03-2014, 03:58 AM
I don't like unfounded accusations, Queen of Swords. I detected mean spiritedness in your post and I've reported your comment to the mods.

JJ Litke
06-03-2014, 03:58 AM
I don't think it's torrents of outrage so much as people defending their choice to go with agents. I mean, you did make some inflammatory statements about agents and have repeatedly implied that anyone who has an agent is making a mistake. The response you're getting should have been expected.

Avatar_fan
06-03-2014, 04:01 AM
Goodbye guys, I thought we were having fun and then Queen of Swords decided to accuse me of something I never said. You really hurt my feelings, Queen of Swords.

Putputt
06-03-2014, 04:06 AM
Filigree, I like that it's an open ended conversation and there really wasn't a plan. I just post and then a torrent of outrage/comments come at me so I respond, which brings on another torrent of outrage/comments. It just sort of ended up this way.


I don't like unfounded accusations, Queen of Swords. I detected mean spiritedness in your post and I've reported your comment to the mods.


Goodbye guys, I thought we were having fun and then Queen of Swords decided to accuse me of something I never said. You really hurt my feelings, Queen of Swords.

I feel like the only outrage here has come from you...:D

Just btw, I have no idea what in QoS' s post was so hurtful.

Sorry to see you go, Avatar Fan. Don't forget to ask Hugh Howey why he decided to sign on with an agent! :)

Marian Perera
06-03-2014, 04:32 AM
Goodbye guys, I thought we were having fun and then Queen of Swords decided to accuse me of something I never said. You really hurt my feelings, Queen of Swords.

And I wasn't even trying. I'm even better than I thought. :)

Just FYI, the comments "You can have your significant other/kin do it" and "save yourself the 15%" are what you said. Therefore, you were suggesting that writers turn their significant others into unpaid agents (even if you backpedaled later). I just had a few questions about how we could make sure our significant others were experienced enough before we started using them as agents.

amergina
06-03-2014, 04:32 AM
I disagree, Hoplite. I posted the Evanovich example for people who don't want to deal with negotiations and such. You can have your significant other/kin do it. After all, Ms. Evanovich did it. She probably wanted to help her son out by giving him something to do to help out with the family business.

A writer can certainly do all the studying of the business and negotiations himself (especially with self publishing and you get an offer), if they're so inclined, with a literary attorney doing the contracts work. I don't see the added value literary agents bring any longer.


Given that you're suggesting writers use their SOs and relatives as agents (once they've "studied up about the business"), I find it interesting that when I ask for clarifications and further information about this particular business plan, the answer is "ask Ms. Evanovich".

Janet Evanovich isn't the one suggesting writers turn their SOs and relatives into unpaid agents. You are.


I don't like unfounded accusations, Queen of Swords. I detected mean spiritedness in your post and I've reported your comment to the mods.


Goodbye guys, I thought we were having fun and then Queen of Swords decided to accuse me of something I never said. You really hurt my feelings, Queen of Swords.

Quoting for posterity, bolding mine. Own your words.

Note: This isn't one of the forums I mod.

shelleyo
06-03-2014, 04:37 AM
And I wasn't even trying. I'm even better than I thought. :)

Simmer down!

To speak to the topic, I would have an IP lawyer look over an agency contract before I signed it so I could be sure there's nothing in it that I don't want. And I would have that lawyer look over any publishing contracts offered through my agent, if I felt as if I didn't understand every bit of it. I would want it explained in detail, and if I didn't feel like I was getting that from my agent, I'd hire a lawyer. I might anyway, just because I'm me.

But there are some projects I would want an agent for. I would just hope that research would lead me away from the ones that aren't so great.

Little Ming
06-03-2014, 04:40 AM
After all the torrents of outrage I've invested into this thread, it really hurts my feelings that no one reported my posts. :(

Little Ming
06-03-2014, 04:41 AM
But... now that that derailment is over, maybe we can get back on topic.

Agent - I think for new authors who don't have contacts in the industry, can't approach major publishers on their own, don't know what to do with subsidiary rights, and in general don't know much about publishing yet are better off with an agent. A good agent is worth at least at much as their 15%. Do good research before signing with an agent, and even after you've signed, remember you should always be able to end it if things don't work out. A bad agent is worse than no agent.

Lawyer - For authors who are already successful in the business, have contacts, or better have publishers seeking them out and offering them multi-million dollar contracts, and are comfortable managing the business side of their careers, a lawyer might be a good idea. Of course, a lawyer will save the author money in the long run only if this is for the contract only. Lawyers are paid hourly and if something happens later on that needs the lawyers attention, it might actually cost more than an agent's 15%. Authors need to balance the risks and benefits.

ElaineA
06-03-2014, 04:48 AM
That was a sad flounce. Really. There weren't even exclamation points. :Shrug:

JJ Litke
06-03-2014, 05:19 AM
To speak to the topic, I would have an IP lawyer look over an agency contract before I signed it so I could be sure there's nothing in it that I don't want. And I would have that lawyer look over any publishing contracts offered through my agent, if I felt as if I didn't understand every bit of it. I would want it explained in detail, and if I didn't feel like I was getting that from my agent, I'd hire a lawyer. I might anyway, just because I'm me.

This is a point I've wondered about. My choice would be to work with an agent. Let's assume for sake of example that this all goes according to standard, and I'm offered contracts, first with the agent, and then with a publisher for my book. Do I want to have a lawyer look over those contracts? (Again, let's assume the lawyer has the correct publishing expertise.) Is hiring a lawyer remotely common, or do most writers trust their agent to explain everything?

I know you're supposed to go with an agent you trust, but I have no experience with this. I'm doing huge amounts of study, but I also know there's a vast difference between studying up and genuine experience. So how common is it that people will go with an agent, and still get a lawyer to look over contracts?

amergina
06-03-2014, 05:36 AM
I received a publishing contract from one of the big-5. My agent (and the agency) negotiated it for me, keeping me in the loop about the major things they were working on. When I got the contract they'd agreed on with the publisher, I took several days and read it over. Then I sent an email to my agent asking about clauses I didn't understand exactly and verifying that certain clauses meant what I *think* they meant.

We talked it out. I was satisfied, and I signed.

I was also rather impressed with the bits that got struck out, because I wouldn't have known to do that. Which is why I have an agent in the first place!

atthebeach
06-03-2014, 08:54 AM
Avatar_fan, I do hope you decide to stay. I see no mean spiritedness from these posts here.

And, others here have tried repeatedly to help you, but you seem to resist addressing the basic issues they present.

If you truly have no other agenda, I suggest you step back and re-read these posts from a different perspective. It is so important for us to give the most accurate information to authors seeking publication, and it just is not good advice to suggest authors depend on a SO to act as agent. I'm sorry, but it is not.

I have learned so much on AW, and we can all learn more, so I just recommend you thank others for their clarification here, and move past this. Again, I do hope you decide to stay, and know that you may be able to help someone else out in the future in a different thread, with something you already know, or something you learn from AW.

But in this thread, it is okay to recognize that you were arguing something that just is not good advice. Really. Just move on and know this is not personal, but is the warm community that looks out for each other. And in some other thread, you may be the one who helps ensure authors are protected.

One thing I did when I first joined was start reading old threads to really see all AW has to offer. it helped me understand publishing tremendously. So, have some popcorn on me, :popcorn: put your feet up, and enjoy reading. And take care- please consider "un-flouncing" and let us show mutual respect for fellow writers.

So on the original topic, what I read here from posters, is that even those who support using only an attorney often end up using an Agent. I write academic nonfiction right now, generally not something an agent is interested in from my understanding, but if I were to write the novel I want to write someday, as I said before, my attorney-husband would certainly not suggest he should also be my agent. I would want to partner with an Agent who knew the business, lived it daily, and had the contacts and expertise to sell, for both our sakes.

Old Hack
06-03-2014, 10:13 AM
And on that very thoughtful note, I think we're done here.

PM me if you have a good enough reason for me to reopen the thread.