Some of the paragraphs of your contract should include: a time limit, number of books contracted, scope of representation, commission, subsidiary rights, disbursements, expenses, communication and statements, audit, notices, contacts, powers, bankruptcy, termination, dispute resolution, death (of agent or author), reversion of unexploited rights, agent leaves agency, and a revised definition of out-of-print and electronic availability clause.
Long ago I worked as a union member. I’ve learned to live within and honor contracts. If every contingency is addressed then both parties know what is expected. Knowing the rules helps teams work together.
How to get there?
Any questions that come up during negotiations should be included within the contract or be addressed in a letter of understanding. What happens if the author writes outside their genre? What if the agent hates the author’s next book? How does the author get their money? Does the agent have right of attorney? How long is an author expect to wait for a response to a communication? Does the agent offer editorial, marketing, or public relation services? What happens if the agent leaves the agency? What happens if the author or agent dies?
No contract can cover everything. But what you can do is consider the most common issues, agree on what the rules, or the acceptable actions. That way the focus is on business success rather than anything else.
Is there anything I should have included that is missing? Any advice for us?