Pub Rants

Boilerplate Item Du Jour (take 2)

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STATUS: TGIF! I have so much to do this weekend…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? CRASH INTO ME by Dave Matthews Band

The best defense is a strong offense.

What do I do about Publisher insistence on assuming that graphic novel rights is a boilerplate item? I immediately make it clear that it is not at the BEGINNING of each negotiation so there can be no misunderstanding early on.

That also establishes to the publishers that regardless of what they think, where my agency is concerned, graphic novel rights is not a boilerplate item.

I do the same thing at the beginning of a negotiation for a possible multi-book deal. Right when the editor calls, I announce that my agency does not do joint accounting so are we talking about one book or two?

And that takes it off the table right from the start. It won’t be a point of dissension for later.

Now graphic novel rights aren’t quite the same thing as joint accounting so I still expect a discussion or argument but my position is at least clear from minute one.

Have a great weekend.

17 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    In a two-book deal with joint accounting, money made from the second book will go towards paying off the advance for the first book, if the first book didn’t earn out its advance. If book two has great sales, you don’t get to enjoy the rewards until book one is paid off.

    In a two-book deal without joint accounting, the two books stand alone. If book one doesn’t earn out and book two becomes an Oprah pick, you only have to cover the advance on book two, and you get to party like a rock star starting with the first royalty statement, rather than waiting for the book two royalties to pay off book one.

  2. Music Critic said:

    Number One with a bullet! Dave Matthews Band is awesome. Crash is great song. Put them together and you get a #1 best seller.

    By the way, the things you say you do during a contract negotiation is the exact reason authors should consider the talents of an agent, especially The Nelson Agency.

  3. bran fan said:

    Karen Wester Newton: You’d be surprised where graphic novels turn up. The “Warriors” series (MG novels) was up to book 8, and then suddenly there was a graphic novel tie-in. I’m sure the author didn’t see that coming at the beginning, and was either glad her agent helped her keep those rights or was sorry she signed them away, depending on which avenue she took.

  4. Southamptoner said:

    I think you’re absolutely right- graphic novels are wonderful, but also fraught with another host of aesthetic issues. I’d hate to be an author whose work was assigned to an artist whose visual style I disliked, for adaptation.

    Of course, this is entirely aside from financial implications..I’m just thinking of the aesthetic ones.

  5. Anonymous said:

    Not to change the subject, but I was wondering what The Agent World think about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award going on right now? 836 semifinalists are all clamoring to get reviews. Some have as many as 80, others have no reviews.

    Is anyone outside of their little circle paying attention?

  6. Anonymous said:

    This is totally unrelated, but I was hoping you could post your thoughts on this ‘new idea’. The owner claims that it’s what agents want…what’s an agent’s take on it?

    He’s taken it upon himself to also now use the website to blast people who have disagreed with the idea…and has threatened people with legal action for saying that they don’t think that writer’s should use such a ‘service’.

    Since he claims agents would be DYING for these books…would YOU?

  7. JM said:

    I was just coming on here to ask the same thing as the previous commenter. I am writing a piece on Z&F and would like to get the opinion of an agent on what this site offers.

    I’m not looking for anything other than how it looks from an agent.

    I would very much appreciate your thoughts on the matter. If you want any more information on the piece I am writing or anything else, feel free to contact me through my site (I imagine you would rather not have people leaving their personal email addresses in your comments.)

    Thank you for your time!


  8. Impy said:

    Hmmm… what about when the work in question is a graphic novel to start with? Would a novelization be a boilerplate (or in this case, non-boilerplate) issue?

    How about if the author of a webcomic-established graphic novel, for example, does not want to part with electronic rights under any circumstances, can an agent still sell the book or is that a death knell? How do you make it clear if those rights simply aren’t on the table when so many publishers demand them these days?

    Perhaps equally important… how would such an author even begin to find an agent when there only seems to be a handful that represent graphic novels? Is it kosher to just go ahead and pitch a graphic novel project that already has an established audience to an agent that happens to handle the genre of the graphic novel’s story, on the theory that the genre such as “fantasy” or “romance” would be as important as the medium (graphic novel)?

  9. Amy said:

    In my opinion, you can’t ask Kristen to visit sites and give opinions or to look at your work by clicking. This blog is chock full of information that you can’t get anywhere else. That’s what Kristen gives us of her own free will.

    If you want to know if NLA likes your work, query them appropriately and professionally.

  10. Anonymous said:

    Oh, lighten up Amy. Not everyone is up on blog manners. Kristin will just ignore these questions, like she ignores most questions in the comment section.

    Now, if anyone else bothered to notice, both these sites, Z&F and fictionscribe, are worth examining for a few minutes just out of curiosity. And I am not connected with any of them at all.

  11. Merry Monteleone said:

    Hi Amy,

    I guess they can ask, I just don’t know how professional it looks, but then, if they’re not using their real name, they may not care if it’s good etiquette or not…

    I did look at the site, because I’m silly that way – I am not an agent or editor, but I generally steer away from any ‘professional writing service’ with mispellings and bad grammar peppered throughout.. Plus, I’m not even sure what a pre-publishing service is.

    In case there are any newer writers out there really looking into this, I might suggest looking at the guidelines on how to spot a scam at Writer’s Beware or Preditors and Editors… and just doing your homework on the submission process – but it really isn’t Kristen’s job to do your homework or site checking for you… I have a sneaking suspicion the site owner or their affiliates just wanted it linked in reputable publishing blogs – to attract writers, not readers, which should be a red flag by itself…

  12. JM said:

    I apologize if what I did was rude in the blogging world, but I was instructed to come here and ask about the Z&F company by a coworker at Pump Up Your Book Promotions who has talked to Kristin.

    Lacking a ‘contact me’ (for obvious reasons) here on the blog, I was told simply to leave a comment asking the question. I also didn’t care to leave my personal email address for anyone to find. 🙂

    Apologies again if there was a better way to go about this.