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How much is an agent allowed to charge?

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hollywood john

I received a contract from an agent. The agent charges $750 for administrative fee: postage, copying, messenger service, etc. Is this legal? Can an agent charge this upfront fee? I read writers market book and queried an agent whom I thought is legitimate.
 

Tilly

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I don't think it's actually illegal, but it's certainly a very bad idea to pay a fee to an agent, especially such a large fee.
Do you know of any sales this agent has made?
Could you give us the name of the agency?
 

James D. Macdonald

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It's legal, but then anyone at all can call himself an "agent."

Has this agent sold anything, to anyone, ever?

I wouldn't even consider an agent who charges any kind of fee. Real agents make their money by selling their clients' work to real publishers.
 

Tilly

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An agent in a print guide may not be legitimate. They aren't vetted. There are some places that can tell you if there are complaints against an agent:

http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/

You can check writer beware and contact them for information:

http://www.sfwa.org/beware/

And there is an index of publishers and agents at the top of this board, you can see if an agent has already been discussed here:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=792

There are some other things you can check. You can see if an agent is a member of the AAR, whether they have sales to royalty paying commercial publishers (rather than POD or vanity presses), and if they charge a fee, they're probably making their money from writers rather than by selling a writer's work, particularly when the fee is as high as the one you've described.
 
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victoriastrauss

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Charging upfront for "administration" (or marketing or submission or anything else it may be called) isn't standard practice among successful agents. Most agents do expect their clients to bear some of the cost of submission, but they allow these costs to accrue and reimburse themselves from the client's advance, or less typically (and less desirably), bill the expenses after they're incurred. An upfront fee due on contract signing is nearly always an indication either of a fraudulent agency, or of an agency that's so bad at selling manuscripts that it can't stay in business without its clients' financial support. Either way, bad news for the client.

- Victoria
 

HapiSofi

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$750 administrative costs? That's a scammer for sure. It wouldn't be so bad if the con artists did anything in return for your money, but they never do.

The literal answer to your question is that it's not illegal to charge that much. It is illegal for them to misrepresent their actions in order to get money out of you, but you'd have to have a lot more evidence before you could get them busted. The important point is that this is clearly a con artist, and having a scammer as your agent is far, far worse than having no agent at all.
 

Donna Pudick

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Administration fees are a crock. The costs an agent accrues in marketing a book are puny, and a good agent has plenty of capital to use for mailing, copying, etc. As I said in another thread, yearly costs for 30-plus clients are usually less than a year of golf at a very nice course. Even if a book is a hard sell, it would be years and years before the costs of handling it would amount to $750. Long before that, the agent would have dropped it.
 

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Look at it this way, becasue its the same EXACT thing....


WOuld you ever pay your real estate agent ahead of time to sell your house? After all, he/she has to send out mailers, put you on the website, take pictures, make hand outs, actually show the house. So would you? OF COURSE NOT becaue he or she is ONLY DOING THEIR JOB! So why pay a literary agent ahead of time? If they are a good agent, they will sell your book and get their money in the end...just like a realtor.

Don't do it, my fellow writer friend Run as fast as you can....
 

The Gorn

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RED ALERT! RED ALERT!

hollywood john said:
I received a contract from an agent. The agent charges $750 for administrative fee: postage, copying, messenger service, etc. Is this legal? Can an agent charge this upfront fee? I read writers market book and queried an agent whom I thought is legitimate.

I attended a meeting of The River Writers Support Group in Laughlin, Nevada a few months ago. They are a group of published authors and one publisher who's purpose is to help aspiring authors get published and to also warn them about the various pitfalls to avoid. What you have described here is one of those pitfalls to a tee. My advice...RRRUUUNNN!!!! RUN FOR YOUR LITERARY LIFE!!!!

The author is never required to pay anything to the agent or the publisher. The agent takes a percentage of the sale to a publisher. The publisher takes the bulk of the book sale profits and gives the author a percentage of that known as royalties.

Any agent who tries to charge the author money up-front is either not very good and wants to be sure they get something out of it anyway or they are a flat out con-artist.
 

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