Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Agenting 101 (Conclusion)

STATUS: Had a great lunch with my author Jana DeLeon this afternoon. Her RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU is coming out this October. If you love Stephanie Bond type stuff—romantic comedy mystery, then bookmark Jana’s website since her book will be right up your alley.

I mean, look at this terrific cover?



What song is playing on the iPod right now? It’s a clock radio in the hotel room and I can’t quite bring myself to turn it on and look for a station.

Basically I want to finish up Agenting 101 before too much time elapses between entries. There are just a few more housekeeping details to share with you folks about negotiating a contract.

So here there are:

1. If an editor is asking for more than one book (so a two or three book offer), it’s really important to ask that that the books be accounted separately. We call that no joint accounting.

What’s the issue? Well, if they are jointly accounted, that means that you, as the author, would have to earn out the first book completely in order to see royalties for the second book and so on.

The monies are linked. What happens if the first book bombs, second one is stronger but the sales of the second book have to be accounted with the first until the first one earns out before the author sees any money for book 2.

See the issue? Books should be accounted separately and should stand or fall on their own merits. Let book 2 do the same.

The next two housekeeping issues aren’t really contract-related items (although one will have a tie-in to the contract) but should be questions you should ask before doing the contract negotiation.

Question 1 (to ask the offering editor): What editorial changes do you see as necessary?

And if you can get in writing, all the better. Simply, you want to make sure that the editor’s vision for the work matches with yours and you’d be amazed on how opinions can differ.

I just sold a book in the last couple of months and editor responses to this question really differed. We had a choice of editors so we made sure that the editor’s editorial comments wouldn’t suddenly make the novel leap off into a different direction.

Question 2: What is the potential pub date?

And the contract important factor is to make sure that the publisher must publish within 12, 18 (or worst case scenario) 24 months and if they don’t (barring force majeure—acts of God), they are in breach of contract and rights revert.

You don’t want your project hanging out in publishing limbo forever without some recourse if the publisher doesn’t get on the ball.

That’s it. Now you can negotiate like the pros.

No, I don’t really believe that but at least you will be less clueless if you decide to go it alone.

Good luck.