BOOK DEAL SECRETS: How To Succeed With New York Publishers, An Insider's Guide For Authors which will take you through the process step by step. I've had so much great response to my blog posts about traditional publishers, I've beefed them up for a book. Not only will BOOK DEAL SECRETS prepare you for dealing with a publishing house, if you're on the fence about whether to go traditional or self-publish instead, it will definitely help you decide what's best for you. (More details below btw!)
As a 'hybrid author' - both indie and traditional - I've noticed a lot of misconceptions out there about getting published. Some of them have to do with literary agents. I had a different agent for each of my book deals so I've had a lot of experience dealing with them. It's a tricky, but vital relationship, so it's good to know what to expect.
MISCONCEPTION #1: Agents will call you just to check up on you.
Or to hold your hand, encourage you or tell you what a great writer you are. I know as authors we all want this and need this - and I always suspected this was how the author/agent relationship worked. But good agents are much too busy to stroke your ego all the time. You'll get some back-patting when an agent takes you on. After all, they're representing you. Obviously, they love you - and your manuscript! But after the honeymoon is over, a good agent is always on the phone making deals. Or vetting contracts. Or fielding queries. They don't have time to be your cheerleader.
MISCONCEPTION #2: You pay your agent.
Nope! It's the other way around! The publisher actually sends all your money to the agency first. Then your agent takes his or her standard 15% and cuts you a check for the remaining amount. I guess it's easier for them to do that than chase you around town for their piece of the pie!
MISCONCEPTION #3: Agents only care about your Work In Progress.
Good agents will actually care just as much - maybe more! - about your next book too. Or 'Next Work' as it's called in your contract. Everyone in the business wants to work with a career writer, publishers and editors included. That means someone who can write about a book a year. So make sure you've got some ideas - even a good start - on your Next Work too.
MISCONCEPTION #4: Agents can't understand publishing agreements.
I'm reading more and more experts say that you should always hire a lawyer to vet your contract because agents don't understand them. I don't buy it! Yes, publishing agreements are long and complex and they're getting worse every year. But negotiating contracts is an agent's job! Of course a good agent can understand them.
Now literary agents don't specialize in film options, that' true. So a reputable agent won't try to negotiate your film deal or even all of your translation rights. They'll have reliable co-agents to do that.
btw new author contracts are very standard anyway. There's not much you can change about them. Both of mine from two different publishers were almost identical in terms of content. So if you've got a reputable agent and publisher, trust them and sign your contract - or you risk having the offer withdrawn. If you have questions that nobody can answer to your satisfaction, of course hire a lawyer to cover your butt. Either that, or find a new agent and publisher! (There's a lot more to cover about contracts in the book btw!)
MISCONCEPTION #5: Your agent will read your manuscript while you sit there.
I love these scenes in movies or on TV: where an agent (or editor) reads a whole manuscript in his or her office while the author sits there waiting for the feedback. This particular fantasy fueled me much of my life from watching movies like Romancing the Stone where Joan Wilder's agent read her latest novel with Joan waiting patiently for the feedback, staring out the window at Manhattan's skyline. Most recently, it happened to Noel Solloway in HBO's The Affair. Didn't Misery have a similar scene too? With James Caan as author and Lauren Bacall as agent?
This is how it will work with your agent because this is always how it worked with both of mine. You'll have emailed your manuscript as an attachment. If you're submitting it for the first time after an agent has solicited it, you may have a bit of a wait on your hands. The agent will read it in their preferred format, either digitally or as a hard copy. Every good agent is going to have 'notes' for you. These notes may be official and in writing, particularly if you're not working together yet. But once an agent has signed you on, you'll probably get recommended changes over the phone.
@SLMcInnis and I'll keep you posted on it! I'm busy editing, but it'll be out very soon! Thanks for stopping by!