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Payment procedure

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sandholme

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As a new writer I am confused by the payment procedure in contracts.

I have read that:

4. Reputable publishers pay writers; reputable agents work on commission. Anything else should arouse suspicions

However what therefore should one decide if an agent maintains that the writer must ensure that the publisher sends all payments to the agent and the agent will subtract percentages and fees and forward the remainder to the writer within 14 days of the check clearance?

Is this standard procedure also?
 

HapiSofi

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It's absolutely standard procedure.

Your contract should specify the points at which you'll get what percentage of your advance -- on signing, on delivery or delivery and acceptance, on publication, et cetera. Your editor, with whom you should have a working relationship that's entirely separate from your relationship with your agent, can tell you when those things have happened, and thus you'll know to expect a check from your agent.

There is no excuse for your agent not turning your money over to you ASAP.

When you're selling well enough to expect royalty payments, ask again and I'll tell you how to tell when you can expect those.
 

Jaws

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I also note that the standard for payment established by the AAR is ten business days, which might (depending on the exact wording of the contract) be practically the same as the "fourteen days" quoted below (if that refers to calendar days).

In addition to the royalty statement itself, you should get an invoice or reconciliation from the agent showing exactly how any deductions were calculated. In dealing with [name of major literary agency withheld due to pending litigation], I've discovered that whoever was calculating the commission was mathematically challenged in the agent's favor by about 2%. Given the size of the literary empire in question, that's a not insubstantial chunk of change. Then, too, that invoice/reconciliation will come in really handy at tax time, because commission of this nature are deductible from your business income on schedule C so that you don't have to pay taxes on them.
 

dragonjax

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Another money question

I have heard that some agents split the monies at the publishers. Any thoughts on that? Thanks.
 

James D. Macdonald

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dragonjax said:
I have heard that some agents split the monies at the publishers. Any thoughts on that? Thanks.

You mean the publisher cuts two checks -- one directly to the author, the other to the agent?

I can think of exactly one agent that applies to.
 

Kate Nepveu

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James D. Macdonald said:
You mean the publisher cuts two checks -- one directly to the author, the other to the agent?

I can think of exactly one agent that applies to.
. . . and?

IOW, is this a super-amazing-special agent, or a sleazeball with a friend at the publisher?
 

CaoPaux

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Kate Nepveu said:
. . . and?

IOW, is this a super-amazing-special agent, or a sleazeball with a friend at the publisher?
The agent I'm thinking of needs to do so because of prior suspicion re: mishandling of funds. So I'd be very leery of an agent who does it that way.
 

victoriastrauss

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I also know of two agents who routinely split payments--I'm betting they're the same ones Dave is thinking of. Both have financial misconduct in their past.

Some agents give clients the option of splitting payments, as a courtesy. But it isn't their normal practice.

Some reasons not to split payments, apart from suspicions about the agent's financial probity:

- Publishers make mistakes. Asking them to cut two checks is doubling the chances for error.

- Splitting the money makes it harder for the agent to track your income and ensure that the proper amount is paid in a timely (well, publisher-timely, which isn't always the same thing) manner.

- Tracking your income and dealing with payment issues is an important part of an agent's job. I'd be concerned that an agent who routinely split payments might be less diligent about doing this.

- VIctoria
 

Susan Gable

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James D. Macdonald said:
You mean the publisher cuts two checks -- one directly to the author, the other to the agent?

I can think of exactly one agent that applies to.

I know a few agents who are willing to do this. At an agent panel at a conference this weekend, this was brought up. Someone on the panel said that many (some?) agents get insulted when the author wants split payments, as in, "What? You don't trust me?"

But another agent in the audience - a very reputable, strong name agent - said he disagreed with that. He found it perfectly acceptable if a writer wanted split checks, wasn't insulted in the least.

Susan G.
 

dragonjax

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I know of one agent personally who does this, and a colleague's previous agent (a different person) also does this. But those are the only two I'd heard of.

I greatly appreciate everyone's thoughts on this. Many thanks for sharing your feedback. :)
 

Medievalist

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The agent should also, in the first couple of months of the year, provide a complete breakdown of any monies that went to said agent, indicating fees, postage, percentages, etc.

This can have tax ramifications, depending on your personal tax situation.
 

HapiSofi

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A further reason not to have the publisher issue separate checks to the agent and the author: If you and your agent both handle the payment, you'll both have records of the transaction. One of you may lose that documentation, but it's unlikely that both of you will do so.

I have to say that I'm squicked by the idea of having an agent who can't be trusted to receive your checks and pass on your share of the money. It's not that I don't believe in repentance and the forgiveness of sins; I do. There are agents who have murky episodes on their akashic records, but who've subsequently shown themselves competent and trustworthy. I wouldn't hesitate to do business with them. The point is, I also wouldn't hesitate to route authors' checks through them.

Advance and royalty checks are hardly the only area that's open to abuse. I know of one instance where an agent turned down what would have been an immensely profitable licensing arrangement in order to take significantly inferior offer. The latter happened to include some provisions that personally benefited the agent a great deal. No one could prove bad intent. Could be the agent was being stupid rather than crooked. But my, it did look odd.

If a person is markedly dishonest in one area of life, it's a good bet that they're dishonest in others. You either trust your agent, or you don't. If you don't, you should find a different agent.
 

dragonjax

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HapiSofi said:
I have to say that I'm squicked by the idea of having an agent who can't be trusted to receive your checks and pass on your share of the money.
"Squicked"?

:Huh:
 

soloset

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The original meaning was, ahem, extremely wrong, which I didn't know the first time I used it in the fanfic-derived sense around the guys.

I ended up getting a bunch of seriously shocked looks and "Do you KNOW what that means?" remarks. Naturally, I pretended I did and then rushed to look it up.

It's actually a really fascinating process how the word transferred in meaning from fringe erotica to common usage, especially when you consider how many people (myself included) use it in its most common sense on a frequent basis.

I think I've digressed. <g> Sorry 'bout that.
 

Kate Nepveu

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soloset said:
The original meaning was, ahem, extremely wrong, which I didn't know the first time I used it in the fanfic-derived sense around the guys. . . . It's actually a really fascinating process how the word transferred in meaning from fringe erotica to common usage
Yes indeed, though my context for the original understanding wasn't so much fringe erotica but the Usenet group alt.peeves.

Mostly I'm impressed that it showed up in Google's define: search!
 

HapiSofi

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I know where it started out, but it's such a useful word that it's spread far and wide.
 

Maryn

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I'm still working on "akashic"--and not getting far.

Maryn, stumped
 

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