Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Anatomy Of An Agency Agreement—Part One

STATUS: Even in St. Louis I’m working hard. Tomorrow I do one panel at Archon so I may have some interesting things to report… It’s also rather late as you can tell by the stamp on this posting. Sorry for any typos etc.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WATCHING THE WHEELS by John Lennon

As promised, I’m going to break down the agency agreement. Please remember that this is simply from my agency’s boilerplate and not all agency boilerplates are the same. Some might be better; some might be worse. Ultimately, many of them will have these elements in them.

Most contracts begin with formal language that appoints the agent to represent you and the books you write, and for all rights derived from your literary material...

So that starts the agreement. For some authors, the agreement can be modified to only apply to one specific work or it can be left open to include all works.

If the latter, the crucial point is to make sure there is an “out” if the relationship doesn’t work out. For my contract, that stipulation comes in clause 10: Term of Agreement. Either party can terminate the agreement with a 30-day written notice.

In my mind, both parties should be happy and if they aren’t, then why would we want to continue working together? Makes sense to me but I have heard that other agents stipulate automatic time frames for the agreement such as 6 months, 1 year, or even 2 years.

I think 2 years is rather a long time and it would certainly feel like an eternity if the relationship wasn’t working out.

So negotiate for what feels comfortable for you.