Hullo all, Mira here. Last month I shared about how agents choose who they represent. I’m not sure if I spoke about how hard it is for us to reject clients. But trust me it is. Some of us procrastinate getting back to writers and illustrators because we’re just so busy and it’s just so hard to say no; especially, if we are empathic types. I’ve heard that it gets easier. I am looking forward to that but it kills me every time knowing personally how much heart and effort has gone into each submission.
This month I’d like to begin sharing about what agents actually do when they sign you. I’d like to start with the Agent/Client contract.
First off, the Agent/Client contract should spell out what each side expects from the other. Contracts can vary quite a bit but below are some of the things that a contract will usually address:
Like history, most contracts are written to favor whoever is writing it. We’ll be talking a little about publishing contracts in a future post, but suffice to say that whether it’s an agent or publishing contract that you are negotiating, if you are not a big name, generally you are not going to be able to ask for too much so pick your battles so that you don't come across as either difficult or needy.
Any contract should be mutually beneficial; it should make the relationship clear and secure both parties so that both you and the agent are protected so that if an agent puts in a substantial amount of time on your work, she isn’t left high and dry if you decide to go elsewhere. Or if you do decide to go elsewhere your future works are protected. You are both putting your efforts on the line, so there should be an agreed upon set of goals and level of commitment.
Trusting your agent and understanding that they are also putting their faith in you, your talent, and your ethics, while investing substantial unpaid time and heart in hopes of helping you get published for a small future commission is essential. If you are not comfortable signing an agreement with someone, then you should carefully consider whether or not you should be working with them professionally. The bottom line is, if it doesn’t feel right for you, then don’t do it.
In the literary world, most agents strive to support their clients on a variety of levels. A contract is simply an extension of that pact.
I hope that this post has been helpful for you. Next month I'll be talking about how an agent goes about submitting you work. If you have any topics that you'd like to learn about, please let me know in the comments below. And as always, any comments are much appreciated.
Yours in children's book love and creativity ~ Mira
3/3/2014 01:04:15 am
Thank you, Mira, for sharing your agent requirements. It is good to see some of these guidelines in print.
3/3/2014 01:13:53 am
As a new author I love to get a glimpse of what happens behind the curtain. Thank you for the post.
3/3/2014 01:44:15 am
Thank you Mira for your honesty and insight.
3/3/2014 02:11:13 am
Thank you Mira for your post, I am in the middle of a decision on agents and it is nice to here this information.
3/3/2014 10:35:45 am
I have just started querying agents so, I loved this post! Thank you so much!
3/3/2014 10:58:11 am
Thank you, Mira. How fortunate we are to have you share your insights.
3/3/2014 11:57:40 am
Thank you for your post.
3/4/2014 08:17:05 am
Mira, thanks for this valuable information and for always giving us some insight into your compassionate spirit.
3/5/2014 11:28:42 am
For my day job, I have to turn down people all the time. I work at a staffing agency and there's only so many jobs to go around.
3/19/2014 05:46:04 am
Christie, I would definitely take on a client whose MS was an 8 out of 10 if the concept is really original and wonderful, and doesn't need too much work.
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We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with awesome multi-published former student Shirin Shamsi who will be focusing on Muslim and cultural kidlit.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays will feature STEM, STEAM & SEL obsessed author Kourtney LaFavre sharing delightfully dorky, quirky, and fun info.
And 5th Mondays we'll be taking a break