Pub Rants

Anatomy Of An Agency Agreement—Part Four

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STATUS: Uh… it can’t really be after 11 o’clock at night, can it? Perhaps next week I can share why I’ve been burning the near midnight oil every night…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I WILL FIND YOU by Clannad (Last of the Mohicans soundtrack)

Great. It’s late at night and I get to tackle the most morbid clause of my agency agreement.

Clause 5 is entitled Dissolution of Agency: Death or Incapacitation of Principals of Agency.

You guessed it. This clause addresses what happens if I kick the bucket suddenly (or not so suddenly as the case might be). Not a particularly happy clause but an important one to have clearly outlined before signing on with an agent or agency.

The smaller or more boutique the agency, the more important this is. If an agent is a “one person show” for all practical purposes (and this isn’t a bad thing—lots of terrific agents aren’t part of a bigger, corporate agency), then it’s really important to know what happens to your literary material if this person (and hence the agency) is no more.

Ah, the little things that an agency agreement can make clear…

12 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    I have a question. I asked this on the last post, but I didn’t get an answer so I am asking again. I hope no one minds. If the author has a publishing house she really wants will the agent take this into consideration or will the just take the top price?

  2. Judy Merrill Larsen said:

    This might not fully answer your question, but the agent doesn’t make the decision on which offer to take–the writer makes that call. So, if there are several offers, the agent will present them to the author but the final decision is up to the author.

  3. Anonymous said:

    So…what does happen if the agent dies? You said the agency agreement covers that, but what does one do if her agent dies???? My agent is old, and accidents do happen.

  4. Anonymous said:

    Another tangent to this… I’m doing a project with a writing partner. My agent told us to discuss what would happen to the project if something happened to either of us. A strange conversation between us but really necessary.

  5. krw3b said:

    I originally read that as “Death or Decapitation…”

    Thanks for explaining all this. It’s very interesting.


  6. Anthony S. Policastro said:

    Unfortunately, I had an agent who died while selling my work. His partner was not interested in my book, so she did not represent me. I was left without an agent. These things happen and it’s unfortunate.
    It’s good to have the clause in your contract.

  7. Marion Gropen said:

    Back when I was in-house, rather than consulting, I had a couple of agents die before books that they had sold went OP.

    It was a nightmare.

    I strongly advise agents and authors in these situations to be sure that there are arrangements in place to cover the administration of remaining payments. And that’s regardless of the agent’s age or apparent health!

    For that matter, authors need to leave someone person in charge of the fate of their work and its earnings, too.

  8. Kimber An said:

    Okay, this is nice and I’ll save it to file, but what I really want to know is what kind of mischief Linnea Sinclair got up to at ARCHON.

  9. Michele Lee said:

    This one became a big deal to me from the beginning. The first agent I queried never responded (and not just to me. The net had many other complaints as well.) and I found out two years later that she had been in a very bad car accident. I’m glad she’s doing well now, and rebuilding her agency, but it did make me willing to ask that question of future agents.

  10. Chumplet said:

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one.

    Good think you’re not in Brooklyn — wasn’t there a tornado there today? It’s possible at least one agent was decapitated, Heaven forbid.