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Katherine Kristine Rusch has one of the sharpest 'Writer Beware' articles I've ever read anywhere. It's about agents and contracts, and how agents have stopped being advocates for the people who hire them - the writers. It also about clauses that both agents and publishers sneak into contracts, and agents who recommend that the writer accepts these clauses, even when they're detrimental to the writer.

If you consider getting an agent, read it.

If anyone sees agents responding to Ms. Rusch's article, I'd very much like to read those responses. Her article has the power to create controversy, and I'd very much like to read both sides of the story. However, Ms. Rusch's article is very much worth reading because her advice goes against all the reasons why a new writer should definitely get an agent.  

For some reason, LJ can't insert hyperlinks into my post right now, so here's the link directly: http://kriswrites.com/2011/05/04/the-business-rusch-advocates-addendums-and-sneaks-oh-my/

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
kara_gnome
May. 6th, 2011 07:14 am (UTC)
wow, what a horrible thing.

I've looked at some of the publishers guidelines for the houses that accept unagented manuscripts and, man, talk about crazy. They don't give a dollar amount they'll give the writer, but you have the idea that it's something teeny and that it's *all* he'll get as well, no matter what.

It sounds like agents think this is a gonzo deal for the writer, too, which, no...

I love writing but not the idea that I'd be very easy to rip-off.

I started subscribing to KK's page as well--that was an awesome article :)
jakobdrud
May. 6th, 2011 01:47 pm (UTC)
I actually haven't looked at publishing house contracts yet, but there are 'standard' (as in 'not detrimental to the writer') contracts available on the web. At least that gives us something to compare any publishing contracts to.
jennygordon
May. 6th, 2011 08:42 am (UTC)
Thanks for sharing this - it's so important to be aware of the pitfalls in any situation. I must say, it makes me feel rather glad I'm still unagented!
jakobdrud
May. 6th, 2011 01:45 pm (UTC)
I'm not yet convinced that agents are the Evil Empire, but I consider myself warned. I sometimes work with contracts in my day job, so I think I'd know what to look for, but I'll certainly read any and all book contracts with a cautious mind from now on. Especially concerning last-minute additions.
dqg_neal
May. 6th, 2011 10:10 am (UTC)
I'm pretty sure her point about "agent to have the right to represent the writer’s work in all forms for the duration of the copyright of the work" has been around for quite some time. I remember reading about it in agent's contracts back in the 80s. Mostly because since they get paid after something sells and not for their footwork, they don't want another agent to get all the credit for something they already did the preliminary work for.

But taken out of the contracts context we can't tell if "work" was defined earlier in the contract. Usually it is referring to a single title, not all work produced by a writer.
jakobdrud
May. 6th, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC)
Hello Neal, and thanks for your comment. As I said, I'm looking for balanced information, which is not Katherine Rusch's agenda in this case.

I've heard about the 'continuous representation' clause before, too, but I have always had a problem with the reasoning behind it. Here's why - And please correct me if the reasoning is flawed :-)

Let's say I hire a person to sell my product -- I call it Wordo Cola and I sell it to brick'n'mortar bookstores ("Wordo Cola - Makes Good Words Sparklier"). My salesman will have to knock on a lot of doors to get the first bookstore to carry Wordo Cola, but eventually he'll get me five or ten customers. Then he quits or I fire him, and I hire another salesman. That salesman will most likely have an easier time selling Wordo Cola to other bookstores, because the first guy broke into the market.

However, I don't know a single Cola producer, who would continue to pay their first salesman after he stopped working for them, even if he made the product marketable. Nor do I know of any other business that would. So I see no particular reason to continue paying an agent for services not rendered -- even if I switch products from Wordo to novels.

I don't know that you're actually endorsing that kind of clause (you only said that it's common) so please take this as an addendum to my post, not a fiery attack on your comment :-)

Best,
Jakob
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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