Agents + Author Agreements

Before considering signing any document remember to do your research. Check out Absolute Write, Publishers Marketplace, AgentQuery, and QueryTracker. Until you sign you’ve done no harm.

Contract Clauses

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 2536572_Tcontract 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?

Reference Material:


22 responses to “Agents + Author Agreements

  1. Lots of things to worry about when signing a contract. Your advice helps to remind us of what to think to ask. I think we are sometimes too much on cloud 9 when we receive a contract to think about the business end of it. Thaks.

  2. There are lots of things to take note of and you’re great at pointing them out. I worried when I first received my contract from my publisher, but thankfully it was a very straight forward contract.

  3. I’m bookmarking this in case I ever get this far.

  4. I’ve only had to deal with “small” contracts. Nothing so big with deadlines and numbers of books. When I get one, I’ll definitely get help so I can understand everything.

  5. Very thorough and informative, Anna. I personally would want a clause that states the agent will disclose which publishers/editors s/he submitted my manuscript(s) to.

    VR Barkowski

  6. Received a contract before but by then I’d contemplated self-publishing. I wasn’t clear on a lot of the clauses but had a co-worker in the legal department look over it for me. Thanks for sharing this post and I will check Absolute Write, Publishers Marketplace, AgentQuery, and QueryTracker, later.

  7. Good to know whenever I get to this point! Reading and understanding contracts has been something that’s been worrying me about my future writing goals. Legal mumbo jumbo makes me blank out half the time :/

    • I force myself to at least understand what it’s all about. Now there is no pressure and I’m relaxed; it’s the best time to try to figure it all out. 🙂

  8. Lots of things to keep in mind. Trying to understand all the legal talk in contracts scares me. I’d definitely run everything by a lawyer before I signed.

  9. While I am not a writer I found this to be interesting

  10. jenniferbielman

    contracts are always the scariest parts of like everything! lol

  11. Do you have a post on what the most common issues are that arise in contracts?
    God Bless,

If you're new to writing, ask me anything and if you're experienced, feel free to share what you know. Learning something new in the craft is always welcome.

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