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  1. #5
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
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    Q. I've broken off relations with my former scam agent, but he never gave me back my manuscript. I'm afraid he's going to steal my work.

    A. Don't be afraid. There's nothing an agent can do with it except sell it to someone; and if this guy were capable of selling manuscripts to publishers, he'd be a real agent. He isn't. He's a scammer. It's a different profession.

    But say he did manage to sell it to some publishing house. What then? Obviously, you wouldn't be around to sign the contract. He'd have to forge your signature on a document containing an indemnity clause that says "I have the right to give you permission to publish this work." The minute you showed up saying "Hey, that's my book," that contract would be out the window. And you would show up. The more successful the sale, the more inevitable the discovery.

    I can't begin to tell you how unhappy the publisher would be with your ex-agent at that point. The money they pay the author is only one of the costs they incur when they publish a book. Suddenly, all their time, effort, and expense has been for nothing. And if the book's come out, they're in the dread position of having published a work for which they don't have a signed contract. It's a bad, bad day for everyone.

    Agents and publishers are not going to steal your book. If a real agent thinks your manuscript is hot stuff, they don't want to steal it. They want to be its legitimate agent of record. Likewise, if a legit publisher thinks your manuscript has major potential, they don't want to steal it. They want to have a signed contract with you, saying that they have the right to publish the thing. In both cases, it's the only way they can make money off your book. Meanwhile, your true scam agents almost never read their clients' books anyway, and in many cases they don't even bother to submit them. Having them steal your work is an extremely low-probability event.

    I make no guarantees about your fellow authors.
    Last edited by HapiSofi; 01-23-2010 at 10:00 AM. Reason: to make it better
    Winner of the Best Drycleaner on the Block Award.

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