Quote Originally Posted by R.A. Lundberg View Post
One thing any author should have is access to a good intellectual properties attorney. I don't care if you have an agent or not, before you sign anything you should be having your IP attorney give it the once over. So many authors have been screwed over with bad contracts that a simple $50 or $100 fee would have detected and stopped cold. This is a business, and you can't go wrong treating it like one.
Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
A good agent will tell you if your contract is good or not, and will do so much more for you besides.

An IP lawyer will only tell you about the legal issues in your contract. He or she won't negotiate that contract, or work out how it might affect you, or show you how it could be improved.

Give me a good agent any day.

Quote Originally Posted by R.A. Lundberg View Post
Sure, a good agent, no question. A good agent would do all those things. Two problems with that idea, unfortunately. It presupposes that A) you have an agent, which seems to be harder to achieve by the day, and B) that you have a GOOD agent.
I don't think it's any harder for a solid, commercial writer to get an agent now than it was twenty years ago. It only seems like it is because there are more people trying to do it.

As for signing with an agent who isn't a good agent, isn't that why people should do their homework before submitting?

In the state of New York there are exactly no standards of any kind you are required to meet to call yourself a literary agent. None. Therefore, your "agent" might know exactly zero about contract law, IP Law, or just about anything else having to do with the legal (or financial) side of being your advocate.
There aren't any minimum standards in London either, or anywhere else that I'm aware of. Which, again, is partly why writers should do some solid research prior to submissions.

It's pretty easy to filter out the really bad from the really good. What's harder is knowing which of the really good agents are a good match for you. Which is why you should always talk to them, and preferably meet up with them, prior to accepting an offer of submission.

People struggle for literally years trying to get agented, and once agented, might be and frequently are willing to overlook a lot in order to stay agented, especially the type who want nothing to do with the actual business side of writing.
If writers are willing to stay with an agent they don't get on with, or who doesn't treat their work with the respect it deserves, then they are fooling themselves. It's not a good policy.

So many people have given up trying to get agented and just decided to go it unrepresented that I thought that the recommendation might be called for. Hey, it's better than flying blind!
It might be--I'm not convinced--but even so, writers are still better off working with a good agent than with an IP lawyer.

Look, in this day and age, "published" authors without agents outnumber the ones who have agents. If you're published thru any means other than trad publishing,
*trade* publishing

then it behooves you to learn the actual business side of this business. You need to learn marketing, for certain, even IF you have an agent. You need to learn the financial side, at least enough to have an intelligent conversation with your accountant. You need to learn enough about literary contracts to know at least what the terms mean, and where to go to find out more.

You cannot run a business without knowing something about business. This IS a business. If you don't treat it as one, you will get absolutely screwed. Some very talented authors have really been taken to the cleaners by crappy contracts. A good agent can prevent that, but ultimately YOU are the one signing the contract, and not knowing what you are signing is the height of folly in business, any business, period, full stop.
Good agents go through contracts with their author-clients. It's standard procedure.

I'm not sure how any of what you've said disproves anything I said, but yes. Writers should learn about publishing if they want to do well. Surely that's one of the basic rules?