View Full Version : Help - my agency is sitting on film, audio and foreign rights!

04-05-2017, 01:29 AM
Okay, here's the short version: I got a small (very small) deal for a trilogy of sci-fi/thriller books that I wrote a couple of years ago. My agent at the time managed to hold on to the foreign and audio rights, which was great. But then she left to start her own agency and I got a new agent. That was fine, but then THAT agent left for a different career, leaving me with NO agent. The agency still holds the rights to sell those books, but they aren't selling anything!

I realize the sales haven't been spectacular, but they could be if my agency was doing something, which they aren't. I have queried several agents there - no takers. On top of that, Simon & Schuster is releasing the trilogy as an omnibus edition to brick and mortar stores nationwide in September. So I'm pretty sure sales are going to increase at least a bit.

Any advice on what to do next would be welcome!

Aggy B.
04-05-2017, 02:32 AM
They aren't trying to sell the rights? Or they just haven't sold them yet?

04-05-2017, 02:36 AM
I'm not sure.

04-05-2017, 03:17 AM
You need to call the agency and talk to them.

04-05-2017, 04:06 AM
Probably a good idea. Thanks.

Aggy B.
04-05-2017, 04:37 AM
Film rights are... tricky. My agent sends copies of my books to someone he works with in L.A., but at this point it's not an active sale. (L.A. guy is being kept in the loop so to speak, because an agency in L.A. had expressed interest in film rights to something else I'd written a few years back.) And options are usually not very lucrative for an author, so some agents will wait until A) a book hits certain sales markers (like best seller lists) or B ) someone approaches them regarding obtaining the film rights. Because getting an option on a book is not terribly difficult, but is usually token payment. (A few hundred dollars, and then the rights are tied up with someone who may or may not be interested in actually doing anything with them.)

I would, for sure, talk to someone at the agency about what they are doing or plan to do with those rights. Do they have a protocol they follow for selling audio book rights? Do they have active contacts in L.A. who are looking at what you've written? It could be they are already working on that, but nothing has come through so there's no news on your end. It could be they want to see certain sales numbers first (since the odds of turning film rights into an actual film or TV show is something like 1/10 again what it is for getting a book published). Maybe they just don't want to do that legwork.

Whatever they are doing, you need to find out and not make assumptions one way or another about what's going on. (I am prone to doing that myself. Worrying that something is wrong because I've not heard anything from my agent in a while. So, I send him a monthly-ish email to tell him what I'm working on and ask where things are at.) I know you don't have an agent at this agency anymore, but they are still representing that particular set of work, so they should have an interest in communicating with you about the books and further rights sales.

04-05-2017, 04:59 AM
So the general consensus is: I need to call them.

Old Hack
04-05-2017, 10:28 AM
Speak to your ex-agency and find out what's happening. From what you've said, no one is going to be actively selling them: they probably don't even realise they still "have" them. But as they've not sold these rights I'm surprised they retained the rights to do so when you left the agency.

Before you call them work out what you want to get out of the call. Do you want them to try to sell the rights for you? Or do you want them to agree that they no longer have the rights to do so, so that you can hand them over to your new agent? If the latter, don't mention when you talk to them that the books are being re-released soon, unless they ask you outright.

04-05-2017, 05:44 PM
Thanks, Old Hack!

04-06-2017, 01:09 AM
Totally a side note, but I'm curious why your agent didn't continue representing you after leaving to go solo. I thought that was usually how things work, that the author stays with the agent, not the agency?

04-06-2017, 02:11 AM
I was her only sci fi/horror author, and she wanted to rep strictly women's lit.