Batman Parodies: Brilliant and a much needed laugh http://www.empireonline.com/features/
Listen, authors. You need an agent for one thing. To get you in the doors of publishers which say “no unsolicited manscripts” or “agency representation only”. In fact the former statement does NOT, despite what people think, mean you must have an agent, it just means they don’t want you to send your book to them, either in partial or in full to them without being ASKED. What they’d like you to do with this statement is to send a QUERY LETTER – and that’s what you should do. You don’t need an agent to do that for you, believe me.
As far as I’m aware, 99% (a rough estimate because what I see from e-publishers is that they are crying out for submissions rather than saying “no more please we can’t cope!”) of e-publishers will take unagented submissions. All you need to do is to OBEY their submissions criteria (and seriously, you would NOT believe how many people think that “submission criteria” means “submit to us in any damned format you like with as many sparkles on your query letter and 20 lines of tagline and don’t bother to enclose the sample pages, just put a link to your website because we really love websites with animations and pictures.”
If you can do that – very simple – thing AND you are literate enough to be able to either read a contract, or find some help with it (think EPIC’s model contract) with it (I paid my solicitor £100 to look over my first) then you DON’T need an agent. Negotiation is simple, because either the publisher will negotiate, or they won’t and YOU need to decide for YOU what is important to YOU.
1. Do you think that 40-50% percent royalties are more your speed rather than the 15% offered? Have a look around – see what other publishers are offering. Don’t believe the Big Guy Figures a publisher might quote at you: “Some of our writers are making six figures a month.”
Yes, they are, but you aren’t likely to, unless you are prepared to work like a demon, pushing out six books a year, doing a shedload of publicity and preferably live in the USA for ease of conferences.
2. Rights of First Refusal: A very tricky little clause, and if you DO accede to this one, give it some serious thought. I was stupid enough to sign a contract with this in, for Running Press and it literally means that (although the gay romance line has, for the moment, folded) everytime I finish a book I have to:
a. Write to RP and tell them that I’ve finished xx book and do they want it? I have to wait for them to say “No” before I go any further (they are very quick)
then when I get an offer from another publisher I have to:
b. Write to RP again and tell them that I’ve had an offer from a publisher and tell them the terms offered (e.g. advance and royalties and contract length) they will have to decide whether they actually want the book at this point and they would have to offer the same/or better terms.
And I’m tied in in this way FOR EVERY SINGLE GAY HISTORICAL I EVER WRITE FOR THE REMAINEDER OF MY LIFE – unless I can persuade them to break the contract.
So, think carefully. It might be tempting, specially if they wave a big fat advance at you, but you belong to them, body and soul.
There are a few other “deal breaker” clauses in any contract, but as I said – you have to see how they relate to YOU. And that’s not difficult, and surely it’s worth KEEPING your 10-15 percent for the length of the contract - to yourself for perhaps a week’s work and a bit of brain stretching? Rather than sit back, let someone else do the work—and lose money to that person who never does anything else for you?
I’m not saying some agents are worth the money, but when it comes to Epublishing, I think that many agents are simply signing up loads of desperate newbies, knowing they aren’t going to make a fortune from them, but all the 10-15 percents add up, and they didn’t exactly do much to earn it.