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Thread: This is nothing like an official FAQ

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  1. #10
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Q. I've been told repeatedly that Yog's Law says money always flows toward the writer, and that any deviation from this is bad, but there's this decent-seeming agent who says she'll represent me for only $400 a year.

    Why shouldn't I sign with her? I know first novels are a tough sell. She's going to be doing a lot of work for me, so why shouldn't I pay her for her time and trouble? I don't care if it's a nonstandard arrangement. I just want to get my book sold.

    A. The reason you shouldn't sign up with this agent is that he or she won't get your book sold. There aren't many clear-cut lines of division in publishing, but this one comes close: Agents who charge their authors for their services make almost no sales. Agents who regularly make sales don't charge their authors for their services.

    Real agents have a very strong motive for not taking on authors whose books aren't saleable: it's hard enough selling books that are of marketable quality. If they take on a book that's not up to snuff, and try to do an honest job of agenting it, they'll either make pennies per hour, or they'll work their hearts out and have nothing to show for it but a long string of disappointments.

    The more marginal the book, the more work to sell it, and the less the return on the effort. An agent who has to charge fees to stay in business is working the wrong end of that curve.

    Does that mean that if they're the only ones who'll take on your book, it's necessarily marginal or unpublishable? Sorry, but the answer is probably yes. If you're absolutely certain your book is saleable, keep sending it out to real agents. If you're right, one of them will eventually take it. If they don't take it, and you're still certain it's saleable, send it out yourself.
    Last edited by HapiSofi; 01-22-2010 at 11:03 AM.
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