Tag s | Contracts

Ten Commandments for Working with Your Agent

By request, here are my ten commandments for working with your agent. Break them at your own peril. Thou shalt vent only to thine agent and never directly to thy publisher or editor.

  1. Thou shalt not get whipped into a frenzy by the industry rumor mill fomented by the Internet. Asketh thy agent if what you’ve heard is true.
  2. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s success. Be content with thine own contract.
  3. If thou hast a dispute with thine agent, thou shalt talk to thy agent and seekest resolution. Jumping ship without reason is unprofessional … and agents talketh to each other.
  4. Thou shalt consider thy deadlines as sacrosanct. Thy hand signeth the contract, therefore thou art obligated. Thou shalt not expect thy agent to miraculously create extra time at the last minute.
  5. Respecteth the boundaries of the communication relationship with thy agent. Do not risketh being classified as a spammer or high maintenance by thy agent.
  6. Thou shalt be reasonable and balanced with regard to all social media. Remember, every word written on social media is a word not written on thy manuscript. At least don’t telleth the world that thou art eating ice cream to avoideth writing thy manuscript. Thy editor shall readeth your confession and weepeth.
  7. Keepeth it all in perspective. Selling only 8,000 books still meaneth 8,000 people have “bought a ticket” to read thy work. That crowd would filleth a megachurch auditorium.
  8. Remember thy calling to be a writer and keep it holy. You are in the business of changing the world word by word. Everything else is secondary.
  9. Thou shall rise and call thy agent blessed (and send chocolates at Christmas and cash on birthdays).
  10. If thou dost not have an agent, do not passeth “Go.” Instead, grabbeth one and bringeth said agent into thy camp ASAP. This industry is a labyrinth; and thou shalt someday discover thou needest one, and then it shall be too late. Real life examples available upon request.

__________
Permission is granted to use this in your own blog or website, as long as you include the following copyright notice:
© 2020 Steve Laube of The Steve Laube Agency (
www.stevelaube.com)

Leave a Comment

What if You Get a Book Deal on Your Own and Then Want an Agent?

One of our readers asked this via the green “Ask us a question” button.

What happens if you get a book contract before you have an agent? What if, by some miracle, an editor sees your work and wants to publish it? (1) would having a publisher interested in my work make an agent much more likely to represent me, and (2) would it be appropriate to try to find an agent at that point (when a publisher says it wants to publish you)? My fear is that querying an agent and receiving a response could take several months, but I’d need to accept a potential contract with a book publisher right away (I would think). Is it appropriate to ask the editor to speak with an agent on your behalf to speed the process?

This is a great topic but there are a few questions within the question. Let me try to break it down.

Many times have had authors approach us with contracts in hand and seeking representation (happened just last week). Of course this will get an agent’s attention immediately. But there are caveats:

a)      Who is the publisher? There is a big difference between a major company and your local independent publisher. Not all publishers are created equal (see the Preditors & Editors warnings).

Read More

How Long Does It Take to Get Published?

How much time does it take to get published?

I came to the publishing business from the retail side of the equation. The biggest adjustment was understanding how long the process takes. In retail there is instantaneous gratification. But book publishing is a process business.

There is no question the timeline varies from person to person and project to project. In the world of major publishers the diversity can be quite extreme.

Read More

Who Gets Paid in Publishing?

With all the talk about Independent publishing vs. Traditional publishing and the talk about how writers can get rich if they follow a certain plan…I got to thinking. Maybe we should do a quick look at the Economics of Publishing to see if anyone is making off like a bandit. Sorry for you non-numbers people, but it is critical to understand the infrastructure (i.e. the lifeblood) that keeps your ideas in print.

The detective in the movie says “Follow the money,” so we shall. But first a disclaimer. These models are estimates based on years of reading contracts, profit and loss sheets, spreadsheets, and royalty statements. Your mileage may vary.

Read More

Why I’m Not Mysterious

I don’t believe in being mysterious, especially as an agent. Since I used to write books for publication, I know what it’s like to put your career in the hands of others. As a writer, I wouldn’t want to send off my precious work and then hear no updates or …

Read More

Many Happy (?) Returns!

by Steve Laube

Every first-time author is confronted by the reality of “Reserves Against Returns” as part of publishing economics. It is usually a shock and elicits a phone call to their agent crying “What happened to my money?”

Did you realize that book publishing is the only “hard goods” industry where the product sold by the supplier to a vendor can be returned? This does not happen with electronics, clothing, shoes, handbags, cars, tires…you name it. If it is a durable good the vendor who buys it, owns it (which is why there are Outlet Malls – to sell the remaining inventory). Except for books. Somewhere along the line the publishers agreed to allow stores to return unsold inventory for credit. In one sense, publishers are selling their books on consignment. Bargain books are actually resold by the publisher (after getting returns or to reduce overprinted inventory) to a new specialty bargain bookseller or division of a chain (which buys the bargain books non-returnable).

Read More

Writers Beware! Protect Yourself

The writing profession starts off as a private venture. Creating ideas and stories in the privacy of your own home. But those of you who become serious about the work and slowly become more visible the issue of personal protection needs to be addressed.

I cannot emphasize this enough.

Read More

A Request for a Full Manuscript! Now What?

Katie sent the following question: What should an author do if they receive a full manuscript request from an editor as a result of a contest, but the editor works for a small publisher and the author wants to explore other options first (e.g. getting an agent, finding a bigger house, …

Read More

Your Money is Your Business or Keep a Lid on How Much Money You Make

How much should author friends reveal to each other about contracts or other business dealings when they have business with the same publisher?

I think it is a huge mistake to reveal the amount of your advances to other authors. This is similar to finding out the salary of the co-worker in the office cubicle next to yours. When I was a retail store manager we had major problems when salaries were revealed, a near fist-fight between two people who had been friends.

Money is viewed as a measure of worth; i.e. a measure of the worthiness of your work.

Read More