Friday, November 21, 2014

Have We Learned Nothing

Have we learned nothing from the recent news about authors trying to get rights back from their publishers? Authors who signed contracts without an agent, a lawyer or anyone paid to protect the author's rights?

As I'm sure some of you have heard I'm not always that fast on queries or partials. I can be really good at times, but throw in a week off, an influx of queries or clients who need me to read their works and I lose ground fast. Recently I heard from an author whose manuscript I had (for about 4-6 weeks). The author had received a contract from a publisher and, in her words, "didn't need an agent's help."

I'm an agent. Of course I'm going to tell you that you need an agent, but I'm telling you that not because I'm dying to get my 15% of what can often be very little, but because I've seen too many authors make career mistakes because they wanted to save that 15%.

These are the authors who find their books trapped with a publisher because they signed a contract without any sort of rights reversion or out of print clauses. I've seen authors who signed contracts which basically calls anything else they could write in their professional expertise competition. In other words, they can only write the one book they wrote. I've seen authors sign away copyright without even realizing it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that while I see why you might want to hold on to that 15%, I have a sneaking suspicion that in the long run you're going to end up paying far more by not giving up 15%. If that makes sense.



Artemis Grey said...

So glad you wrote this post! Since I'm sort of stalled in that 'almost rejection' stage, I've had a lot of people (both uninvolved lay-people and other traditionally published/self-published writers) suggest I look into self-publishing, or submitting to small presses on my own. While I do have an ms with ONE small press, my ultimate goal has always, and will always be to get an agent because I believe they are an invaluable asset.

It's one of those I'd rather get published later with guidance, than rush to be published now and possibly regret it later.

Anonymous said...

I had friends who even got a lawyer to look over the contract and still ended up with a terrible non-competing clause. IOW- we writers need you guys! :-)