STATUS: And no one ever talks about the late nights we agent keeps.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? CORNFLAKE GIRL by Tori Amos
I have to say I was highly amused to read a hypothesis from a writer that agents make their money from attending conferences.
If that were true, it would certainly be a poor way to make a living.
For the record, the good majority of conferences pay for travel, hotel lodging, and food. Occasionally, a conference will pay a small honorarium. I’ve personally seen remuneration of $150.00 to $250.00. Let’s say an agent attends 8 conferences at that level. That would be a whopping $2000.00. To put that into perspective, that would just about cover my business class internet for the year and maybe one-quarter of my yearly phone bill. As the honorarium stands now, it might cover our yearly office coffee budget for Starbucks and Common Grounds. Big grin here.
Now I have heard rumors of conferences paying anywhere from $500 to $1000 as an honorarium but I’ve never had the good fortune to participate in any of those conferences (although can someone tell me where I could sign up?).
No, agents don’t attend conferences to earn money. We attend conferences in the hopes of meeting an author and finding a project that will, in turn, earn us money.
It’s actually pretty simple. Agents make money by taking a percentage of what authors earn when an agent sells a project on that author’s behalf.
And there are a variety of revenue streams:
1. The initial sell to the US publisher
2. UK sale
3. Foreign translation sales to foreign publishers
6. Other subsidiary rights such as first serial, book club, etc.
And trust me, I’m in my seventh year of agenting and this is certainly not the path to get rich quick. However, it’s a more than comfortable living—for which I feel extraordinarily blessed.