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View Full Version : At what point do I need an agent?



PrettySpecialGal
04-09-2007, 05:07 AM
I've been talking with a publisher about a NF book--she seems interested, and I do believe that an offer will come soon. I do NOT have an agent, since most of my writing is children's lit, and picture book authors don't seem to need an agent like other genres (not sure why).

So- IF an offer comes, is it necessary for me to get an agent before signing on the dotted line? I mean, I realize that I'm posting in "Ask the Agent"...does that guarantee an "of COURSE you need an agent", and if I post in "Ask the Editor", the response is "well, NO you don't need an agent"? Not sure how all this works-

If there is anyone else who can help out, please do.

Thanks.

Unimportant
04-09-2007, 06:27 AM
No, you don't have to have an agent. If you're comfortable negotiating the publishing contract yourself and know what you want, what will prove the sticking points/deal breakers, and what all the clauses mean, then you may prefer to go it alone. However, if you don't know what size advance you should get, which secondary rights you ought to retain, how a rights reversion clause should be phrased, etc, then an agent will probably gain you more than s/he'll cost in commission fees.

You can query agents now, letting them know where you're at with the publisher in question, or you can wait till you have an offer in hand.

triceretops
04-09-2007, 08:14 AM
No, you don't need an agent to negotiate your first NF deal. I did it with two book, and upped my advances, not as high as I would have liked, but it worked.

In my case an agent could have probably got me a lot more money up front and gotten me (gross) instead of (net). But, no guarantees there. Net is almost becoming standard for NF books--don't know why that is.

An agent might not take you on unless there IS an advance on ANY book.

Tri

PS--good luck on your project. You've done very well already!

Tri

PrettySpecialGal
04-11-2007, 08:11 AM
Thanks a bunch!
I appreciate your advice.

Jamesaritchie
04-11-2007, 05:35 PM
You don't need an agent, but if you can get a good one, you're being nuts if you don't. First book or fortieth, an agent is worth ten times her weight in gold, and any writer who does not latch onto a good agent when such becomes available is screwing himself big time.

davids
04-11-2007, 06:03 PM
You don't need an agent, but if you can get a good one, you're being nuts if you don't. First book or fortieth, an agent is worth ten times her weight in gold, and any writer who does not latch onto a good agent when such becomes available is screwing himself big time.

Not that you need confirmation after the above posts but double double ditto Jamesaritchie!

victoriastrauss
04-11-2007, 07:12 PM
I agree about the importance of an agent. You can negotiate your own contract if you're knowledgeable enough about contract issues (which, I have to say, even many very experienced authors aren't--also, there are issues in nonfiction contracts that don't figure into fiction contracts) but a good agent will do much more for you than just negotiate your contract.

One caveat: if you go looking for an agent after you've gotten a contract offer, you run the risk of getting a "yes" that's mostly for the sake of a quick buck, rather than because of enthusiasm for your project. That can pose problems later on, when you want the agent to sell subrights or to market your next book.

Case in point: I've been corresponding with a nonfiction author who recently got an offer from a very solid independent press. He then went looking for an agent to neogiate the contract. A top agent quickly said yes--but it was apparent to him that the agent hadn't really read the book. A very reputable but less prestigious agent also said yes--and that agent did read the book and expressed enthusiasm for it. The author decided to go with the second agent, preferring to have a good agent who was enthusiastic about his work rather than a top agent who was probably only interested on a one-time basis.

- Victoria

PrettySpecialGal
04-13-2007, 02:36 PM
Lots of things to think about- thanks a bunch everyone-

PSG

e.dashwood
04-13-2007, 06:59 PM
If you feel queasy about negotiating your own contract, you might consider the services of a knowledgeable attorney. For a one time hourly fee, a contract/publishing attorney could--depending on your budget--review the contract you have negotiated on your own or actually negotiate the contract.

An agent will continue to take 15 percent of the proceeds for the life of the book, but once you pay a lawyer, you're done.