Wednesday, October 26, 2011

You Can't Get Everything - This is a game of compromise...

I seem to be spending a lot of time thinking about agents this week.

One of the roles that an agent serves in the author/agent relationship, is that of contract negotiations. This is the obvious one that most authors seem to gravitate to. Unfortunately, I do believe that many authors (and yes, I do think there are a few agents out there as well) believe that during the negotiation process, the goal is for the writer to get everything he or she wants. This is simply not going to happen.

As an agent, we are taking the time to look at not just the current contract, but also the future the author has with that particular publisher. Remember, we are in this for the career and not simply for the single contract. For that reason, as we look at what we want, we have to also look toward the future.

In some cases, we might give in on one element in the contract to get something we want on some other issue. We might even give up on an issue knowing that for a later contract, we can bring this up because it will be a better fit with a different project. This is a compromise here, and, in a compromise, there will always be a give and take.

What many authors might forget is that trying to get everything might send the wrong signal to the publisher. The goal is again, a career. You (and your agent) don't want to come across as someone who they don't want to work with. Editors/publishers want to know that you are there for them when they need it. In many ways, this is an extension of that "team" element I talked about later.

This "getting everything" element also extends to an author looking for that agent. If you have an agent who is really interested in your work, and you are interested in working with that agent, demanding too much might not be the best approach.

I think, in reality, this is a lot of "common sense". Just think.


  1. Great post-- I think by the time a writer has a book to sell,they sometimes get caught up in thinking it is all about that one book.

  2. Sorry to leave an unrelated comment, but I couldn't find any contact information from you. My name is Emily Matthews, and I'm very interested in contributing to your site - I think I have some great ideas for posts that your readers would love. I'd love to discuss them further with you, and hope to hear from you soon.

  3. No, it's good to point these things out. A good relationship with pub X will probably be more beneficial in the long run (to a career author) than an unfair contract. This rule applies both ways, of course, and pub x has to factor in the future relationship as well.