Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Anatomy Of An Agency Agreement—Part Eight

STATUS: Oops. I almost forgot to blog today. Seriously, I was all proud of getting just about everything done that I had hoped to. It slipped my mind until now.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? THE CRYING GAME by Culture Club

We haven’t talked about agency agreements in a while so let me jump back in with clause 10 which is entitled Term of Agreement.

I’m not one to have a client stay with me if they aren’t happy with the representation (and vice versa) so in my agency agreement, either party can terminate the relationship with a thirty day written notice.

However, the clause also states that my agency remains the agency of record for all contracts negotiated while the agreement was in force. We also get to continue to pursue any secondary rights sales for material on which we sold the primary rights (for the life of that primary agreement.)

I also have a clause that doesn’t allow a client to do a bait and switch by having me do all the work to land a publishing contract only to have a client terminate the agreement (yet accept the publishing contract) so as not to pay my 15% commission. Not cool. So there is language in this clause to protect the agency from unethical authors.

And yes, folks, unethical authors do exist. I have many stories I could share on that score but I won’t. I may rant but I do try to stay mostly positive.


12 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    First, thanks for all the valuable information you post. As for the latest, the Term of Agreement, it certainly sounds fair to all. My question is with the clause that states your agency remains the agency of record for all contracts negotiated while the agreement was in force. I can certainly understand that part. But then you also get to pursue any secondary rights sales for material on which you sold the primary rights. Would this mean no one else could pursue selling the secondary rights sales?

    What if it were to happen that the arrangement was ended on quite a sour note and you didn’t want to do anything else for that particular author merely out of spite? Does that mean any secondary rights would be totally lost to that author?

    Just curious. Again, thanks for all your info.

  2. Sophie W. said:

    I can’t believe someone would try to rip off a literary agent who helped them get published. Alright, I can, but it makes me ill. You have every right to rant, Kristin! Rant away!

  3. Anonymous said:

    Hi Kristin,
    What’s your take on a agent who is queried and then extremely excited about a manuscript because an editor at a publishing house is reading it. The agent requests the entire manuscript. Then after four weeks or so, the editor passes on it. When the agent is told this, he says he is no longer interested and that he didn’t even read the manuscript.

  4. Anonymous said:

    I do believe that in the end your reputation catches up with you. If you are a user, and basically “steal” services from an agent who is ethical and does not make anything until a sale occurs, it will do you in. If not sooner, than later with editors. Publishing is a small world, and unless you are writing something completely different(different genre, etc.), you’ll be feeding at the same pool of editors. It’s not karma that’ll get you, it’s gossip.

  5. Anonymous said:

    Like “anonymous 12:35”, I’m left wondering about your policy on secondary rights.

    What if I, as the author and copyright holder, do not want to sell (or do not want you to sell) the secondary rights to my work?

  6. dan said:

    From what Anon 6:14 is saying, it’s not that he doesn’t want the secondary rights sold, he may not want them sold by the agent he’s just left.

  7. Anonymous said:

    I don’t understand your mention of bait and switch. How could an author consummate a deal with an editor that you’ve negotiated? Doesn’t the editor recognize you as having been the agent of record at the time of the offer and negotiations?

  8. Anonymous said:

    Is the actual termination letter (delivered after the 30 days notice) something that needs to be drawn up by a lawyer or is it something the author can handle?

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