Wow! I LOVE having an agent. I spent a lot of years wondering, do I really need an agent? Kind of along the same lines of, do I really need that piece of chocolate? Probably not, but it sure would be nice…

Whether I truly NEED her or not, I sure like her! One of the main reasons I wanted an agent was to help me with career advice/direction. I’m very lucky in that I’m able to find quite a bit of freelance work…but that’s kind of my downfall, too, because I tend to actually GET a lot of the work I apply for. And some of this stuff really isn’t worth doing; it isn’t worth taking time away from my “real” writing. But sometimes it’s hard for me to tell whether something’s worth doing or not. (Or maybe it’s all an ego thing…it’s nice to be wanted…?)

I had a contract pending with a packager. It was a project I really wanted to do. But the terms…were not very good. I had a feeling they weren’t going to be very good, so I got my agent involved before the contract actually came. First of all, she never told me, “don’t do this.” Which I really appreciated…another agent probably would’ve been exactly that blunt. But we talked about it. The pay was lousy…which I could’ve lived with if there’d been a royalty. But there wasn’t. And this is a company that, according to Publisher’s Weekly, has a couple of projects that have sold 500,000 copies and 800,000…so why can’t they pay a royalty??? (I know how I’d feel a few years from now if this book I’d written had sold 500,000 copies and all I’d gotten out of the deal was a lousy $1000! FWIW, I usually do better than that with other work-for-hire jobs.)

I really wanted to do this particular project (it looked FUN!)…but I wanted the terms to be FAIR, too! And they weren’t fair. So what to do? I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without my agent’s input. She told me it would’ve been fine to take the job if I needed the money (though there were other clauses in the contract that concerned her, too), but really, it’s a step back for my career. How wonderful to have someone to tell me that!

So I told her I didn’t want to do it (I have several other things on my plate right now anyway), and she said she was glad I said that. Which was EXACTLY what I needed to hear at that moment. I’m very fortunate in that I’m not in a position where I need the money (at least not right now), but when I said, “I don’t think I want to do it,” there was this voice inside my head that said, “What? Are you crazy turning down $1000? You already did the outline – it wouldn’t take you very long to do the book…” So it was really nice to have someone tell me I’m doing the right thing.

Yes, I definitely like this agent…

Sometimes you gotta say no–and sometimes that’s where an agent comes in…

17 thoughts on “Sometimes you gotta say no–and sometimes that’s where an agent comes in…

  • November 1, 2006 at 2:49 pm
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    I’m so happy for you, Dori. It sounds like you found the perfect agent for you.

    Just think about all the writing you can do with the time you would have spent on the work for hire project – I’m sure it will turn into way more than the $1000 when you’re finished with whatever project you’re working on, and have your agent send it out.

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    • November 1, 2006 at 9:28 pm
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      That really is the key…finding the perfect agent for YOU. (BTW, she was on that list you gave me…and at the time I told you I hadn’t heard of her…right after that I started seeing/hearing a lot about her…)

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  • November 1, 2006 at 3:00 pm
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    Dori that’s so great you have an agent again. I sure loved the comfort of having an agent when we shared one. I’m still trying to get one, and a bit tired of waiting on one that seemed very hopeful. Maybe time to try others.

    I so understand about wanting a fair contract. That seems so simple and yet is a challenge. I thought my recent contracts were fair until I discovered joint accounting hidden in the language, which means it’ll be years before I see royalties. Back to submitting and seeking a new publisher.

    Good luck on your projects!! I’m happy things are improving for you! LJS

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    • November 1, 2006 at 9:34 pm
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      Oh no. Not your new publisher??? You’ve got joint accounting in those contracts and you didn’t know it???

      I’ve only seen joint accounting in a contract once…and it was fairly recently. The publisher tried to explain how this would be advantageous to ME…yeah, right. I did not just fall off the turnip truck. I told them as politely as I could that if they didn’t remove it, this would be the only book I ever did with them. They did grudgingly remove it…

      Good luck on your search! I forgot how nice it was to have an agent in my corner!

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      • November 1, 2006 at 10:04 pm
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        The joint accounting language was something like “and all others” — which I sure didn’t catch. Apparently if I had it could have been a deal breaker so I still would have agreed.

        Did you say who your agent was? Congrats!!! LJS

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          • November 6, 2006 at 12:27 am
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            Congrats again on your agent! I haven’t heard of her — is she with an agency or independent?

            Wishing you lots of book sales and writing fun — LJS

          • November 6, 2006 at 3:47 am
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            She was with Harold Ober for quite a while, but she’s independent now.

          • November 6, 2006 at 3:48 am
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            hmm…I don’t know why that last comment showed up as anonymous…it was me.

  • November 1, 2006 at 3:17 pm
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    I love reading happy posts like this, Dori! For you to not only have an agent now, but for it to be working so well!

    Yay!

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    • November 1, 2006 at 9:35 pm
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      Well, it’s working very well for ME…she’s done all kinds of stuff for me already…but I haven’t made her any money yet (yet being the key word here). I hope this is the beginning of a long and profitable (for both of us) relationship…

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  • November 1, 2006 at 3:32 pm
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    This IS a happy post. It’s so hard to make decisions like that, and when you do it is THE BEST to have a cool agent tell you, “Yay.”
    I’m so glad you have someone working with and for you. You deserve it.

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    • November 1, 2006 at 9:37 pm
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      Thanks. (I had to actually reread the post after two of you saw it as a “happy” post…I felt like I was whining about the work-for-hire thing…but I am indeed VERY happy with my new agent!)

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  • November 1, 2006 at 5:54 pm
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    I am so GLAD this is working out. Gotta love that woman for guiding you, not leading you.

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    • November 1, 2006 at 9:44 pm
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      Indeed!

      You know, I’ve been thinking about your post on your blog all day…(about being friends with editors/agents etc.) When another friend tried to set me up with her agent, she told me, “she’s not going to be your best friend, but she’s very good at what she does.” At the time I said I don’t need my agent to be my best friend. I just need one that I can communicate with, who likes my work, wants to work for me, and will do his/her job.

      But when I think about what I really want in an agent, I don’t see how eventually we wouldn’t end up as friends. I really do want more than someone who can look at my contracts and royalty statements and negotiate for me…I also want someone who is a good listener, someone who will point me in the right direction if I start to stray, and someone who will tell me things I need to hear, but maybe don’t want to hear, in a way that won’t piss me off…those are qualities of a good friend!

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      • November 1, 2006 at 11:50 pm
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        In some ways, it’s kind of a one-sided friendship. I try to make up for it by telling funny stories, keeping an eye out for reviews for her other authors, or anything else I can think of.

        Reply

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