View Full Version : Contract seems pretty reasonable. Gotcha's?

Dennis E. Taylor
06-30-2015, 02:02 AM
I've received the contract from the agency that wants to rep me. They're reputable (I've checked AW, QueryTracker, P&E), and the contract is actually a marvel of pretty readable conciseness. Concision? Urgh.

Anyway, it's only a page and a half long, and there's nothing in there that raises any flags with me. I guess I'm just feeling a little paranoid. Those of you have contracts and are happy with them, was there a lot of back-and-forth, or was it really a no-brainer?

06-30-2015, 02:52 PM
I've never seen a standard contract I was happy with. There's always been a ton of back and forth before reaching an agreement. A "gotcha" for me may not be one for you, and what is one for you may not be one for someone else.

It's never a no-brainer.

06-30-2015, 06:01 PM
I don't think I even have a contract with my agent.

Dennis E. Taylor
06-30-2015, 06:21 PM
there is a clause in the contract about me being billed for postage and crap. I remember it being mentioned on AW at least once before, but can't find it. It has more of the feel of an "out" for the agent rather than a danger signal for me, but I've asked about it anyway.

06-30-2015, 06:25 PM
I signed my agency contract without changes, but I had a lawyer explain all the legalese to me first so I knew what I was agreeing to.

For me, when I read a contract, I try to think of worst-case scenarios: my agent and I don't get along, my book doesn't sell, our cousins start feuding, she quits the business, I quit the business, that sort of thing. What does the contract say that will deal with those situations? On top of that, I want to know who gets paid by whom, what the timing is, percentages, etc.

I didn't ask for any changes to my agency contract before signing, but YMMV. My advice would be to make sure you really understand everything that it's saying, and be sure it covers worst-case scenarios (even though we know this is all going to go brilliantly for you :)). A good contract protects both parties, and frees you up to do business together without worries.

06-30-2015, 06:44 PM
I signed my contract as is. I don't know if she still does it, but back then (a couple years ago) Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware would review agency contracts and offer her opinion on them for free. You might want to try that with yours, if she's still willing to do this.

(One more reason she and Writer Beware are AWESOME)

07-01-2015, 07:26 PM
My biggest worries are: 1. How do we part ways, and what happens should I decide I need a new agent after the current agent has sold some books. This can be a very big deal.

2. How soon after receiving a check does the agent have to send me my share, and what happens if she fails to send it in the required time?

3. Does the agent object to me making deals on my own, as long as she handles the contract, and receives her cut?

4. Does the agent understand that she works for me, not the other way around, and that I can say yes when she thinks I should say no, and no when she thinks I should say yes?

5. Does the agent understand that this also applies to the writing itself? She does not have to like the novel, and does not have the right to tell me this or that should be changed, let along the right to mark up the manuscript in any way. She can refuse to handle it, but I'm the writer, and changes I make will be based on what the editor says, not on what the agent thinks. Editors are people who hold a position where they're earned the right to edit, to suggest changes, etc., are people I listen to. Usually. No one else counts. I've seen too many agents, even very good agents, screw up too many novels by turning them into something that might sell, but that is not what the writer wanted to do or say. And as for the writing itself, that's between me and an editor. The agent's job is to get me the best possible contract, not to tell me how to write a novel, let alone how to write a sentence. In practice, this is not as harsh as it sounds, and it's been no trouble at all. 6. Along with this, I do not submit ideas to an agent. I do not need or ask for approval to write a given kind of novel. I write what I want to write, the way I want to write it, and I also write what an editor asks for, if it goes along with what I think I'd enjoy writing. That's it.