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View Full Version : For Agents: Is This Ever Agreed to by Publishers?



onthefence
01-28-2016, 06:47 AM
My book is a big nonfiction book, for which I've done, well, let's leave it at "decades" of research. I am 99.9% done with the research and am deep into the manuscript phase.

However, that remaining 0.01% of the research involves filing FOIA requests all over the place, using an expert FOIA attorney who is not cheap. I'm guessing it's going to cost me about $3000 to do (this includes a FOIA lawsuit... long story... it's the way one gets something done fast w/ the govt; if you file a "request" it could take 3 years... I need to be finished in months).

Anyway, the assumption seems to be that I, the author, have to pay this. I doubt my agent has ever had a client who was going around filing FOIA lawsuits. But the question is, would it be even remotely worthwhile to see if the publisher would foot that bill? If I don't ask, I have to pay, and it comes out of the advance, and that is, well, sub-optimal. I sure wish I could get the publisher to do it, and not ding my advance in the process. Am I dreaming?

I thought maybe an agent out there has dealt with a nonfiction author before and might have seen something like this pop up, where the nonfiction author does all kinds of wild and crazy things to get the story, the way journalists do at newspapers.

[And before anyone asks, yes, if you follow the message here, it begs the question, why didn't I file the FOIA years ago, and just file requests not lawsuit? Well, it took years of research to find out interesting stories that would require a FOIA. Horse before the cart.]

cornflake
01-28-2016, 08:49 AM
I know people who've had expenses paid, and people who've basically had it rolled into advances. Depends. Ask your agent?

Old Hack
01-28-2016, 11:04 AM
Agreed. This is something you have to speak to your agent about.

Treehouseman
01-28-2016, 11:05 AM
A lot of people in that situation usually have some kind of angel investor via a magazine (think New Yorker or Rolling Stone?) If there was a truncated article that you could propose to a publication, you might have them do it for you. Long shot, but it could guage how much of a market interest is out there.

Provided you're not after something like "Bush did 9/11" or "Aliens killed Kennedy" stuff :-)

cornflake
01-28-2016, 12:56 PM
A lot of people in that situation usually have some kind of angel investor via a magazine (think New Yorker or Rolling Stone?) If there was a truncated article that you could propose to a publication, you might have them do it for you. Long shot, but it could guage how much of a market interest is out there.

Provided you're not after something like "Bush did 9/11" or "Aliens killed Kennedy" stuff :-)

That's not an angel investor - that's someone hiring you.

onthefence
01-28-2016, 11:50 PM
Agent knows about my FOIA plans, but we haven't talked about who pays for the FOIA stuff :-) I'll bring it up w/ agent.

Old Hack
01-29-2016, 12:33 AM
It should be detailed in your contract if it's such an important part of the book. Your publisher can't assume you're taking care of it, and neither can you assume the reverse.

Jamesaritchie
01-29-2016, 02:41 AM
Something like this really depends on how much a publisher wants the manuscript, which means how much money it will earn. It sounds like you may be in a bit of a Catch-22 situation. If the FOIA material is so important, the a publisher may not be able to judge the books worth until after you have the information, which means they may not pay until after you already have.

But if the FOIA information really is that important, how do you know whether the book is going to work until after you have it? Hiring an attorney and filing a lawsuit is a HUGE risk. It could drag out and cost far more, and even if it doesn't, you may get nothing at all in return for your money. FPIA doesn't mean you're allowed access to everything out there. Even after a lawsuit, I've seen s stack of FOIA material two hundred pages thick that was ninety-nine percent redacted.

But it never does any harm to ask is the publisher will pay. Sometimes they will. It all depends of what and why.

Jamesaritchie
01-29-2016, 02:47 AM
That's not an angel investor - that's someone hiring you.

Not really. If they hired me, I'd lose all rights to the piece I was writing. Paying my expenses, whatever those expenses are, is a completely different thing. It's really no more than paying me eight thousand for the article, rather than the five thousand I usually receive.

This means the piece has to be written well, of course, and on a subject that is expected to sell a lot of magazines, but it's not that uncommon, and the magazine is not hiring me to do anything. I'm just writing a promised article, and they're paying me enough to make sure the article gets written.