Querying Tips of the Week–Signing on the Dotted Line

qatotw

Hey, guys. I decided to skip my “What I’m Working On” post because nothing much has changed since what I told you last time–I’ve been working on You Know You Love Me and Whispers of the Heart.

Tips are from, as usual, the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents. Today we will be focusing on what to do once you have received an offer to be represented by an agent. Finally landing an agent will be exciting, but you have to be careful and make sure that you aren’t going to be burned after you sign a contract.

Picture Source: fuelfix.com
Picture Source: fuelfix.com

Here are a few guidelines for what you need to look for once an offer has been made:

1. Evaluate the Agent’s Offer.

 

Know what to expect from the offer. You need to know how well your agent is going to work for you. Find out how much editorial help your agent will be willing to give you, if there are any subsidiary rights for your book, and how often she or he will be in touch with you to let you know what stage your manuscript is in. You also need to know when you will be paid. The book publisher will send your advance and any royalty checks to the agent. After the agent takes their commission (Typically 10%-15%), the rest should be sent to you. Make sure to discuss payment plans and commission rates with your agent before agreeing to let them represent you and your work.

Keep in mind that some agents offer contracts when they want to represent you and others do not. If an agent does not offer a contract, it is suggested that you ask for a “memorandum of understanding”, which explains the basics such as expenses and commissions between you and your agent. If an agent does have a contract written up, it is important to read it carefully and if possible, have a lawyer or law-knowledgeable friend to check it out before you sign it. If you have any questions for your agent, ask them before signing. If your agent refuses to answer your questions, it is probably best not to go with them.

Picture Source: scamwarners.com
Picture Source: scamwarners.com

2. Avoid Being Scammed.

Since more aspiring writers are emerging and more publishing houses are being more selective to who can submit work to them, more people are becoming literary agents. Although this sounds like a good thing, this also means that there will be untrustworthy agents out there looking to scam clueless writers who just want to see their book in print. Here are a few things that you can do in order to protect yourself:

a. Never pay money up front. Publishing houses are supposed to pay you to write, not vice-versa. If an agent is trying to get money from you upfront, walk away.

b. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Check the agent’s website, Google, or ask other writer’s about them to find out if they are credible.

c. If there is no information on the agent who wants to represent you, be careful. It may be best to wait for an agent who you can at least find some information on.

3. If You’ve Already Been Scammed.

a. Warn the writing community. Don’t let this terrible thing happen to another aspiring author. This will also keep the scammer from being successful.

b. Consider contacting the Federal Trade Commission, the Council of Better Business Bureaus, or your state’s general attorney.

c. If you feel the time and effort is worth it, take legal action. If the agent lives in the same state, consider taking them to small claims court.

d. Don’t blame yourself. Seriously, it’s not your fault that someone you felt you could trust lied to you. Be more cautious in the future and don’t let these people destroy your dreams.

e. If you need more information on this, go to The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s website at http://www.sfwa.org/beware/

——

I hope that today’s post will help you when you get an offer from an agent. If you’ve been following with my blog and you get an agent later on, will you please let me know so I can offer my congratulations?

That’s all for today. Don’t forget to check out my book giveaway that’s going on now. Click on the previous post to find out more.

jncahill_name

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