Thursday, May 1, 2008

Getting Paid

Unfortunately, you don't just get a check in the mail the moment you accept an offer from a publisher to publish your book. The contract has to be negotiated, which can take months. Then both parties need to sign the agreement, and then finally a check gets cut.

But according to most agency agreements and agency clauses in your contracts, the check is made out in the name of your agent and gets sent to them. Your agent will then deposit the check in an account, take out their commission (usually fifteen percent) and any expenses they incurred in submitting your work (typically copying, postage, and messenger fees), and then send you your payment. According to the Association of Authors' Representatives, agent members must send payments due to their clients within ten days after it's cleared.

Most agency clauses (including the one I use) state that an agent is entitled to their commission for the life of the contract, regardless of whether the author ceases to be a client. But if you and your agent do part ways, you and your former agent can request that the publisher send the commission to the agent and the rest directly to you.

8 comments:

Ryan Field said...

Would an "in perpetuity" clause in the agency agreement be added in addition to this?

Jonathan Lyons said...

Perpetual agency clauses (also called interminable agency or interminable rights clauses) are highly discouraged in the industry. These give the agent the right to exploit all rights in relation to the book for the length of the copyright, as compared to giving the agent the right to receive money on all contracts in perpetuity for contracts they negotiated.

Such language would typically be found in your author-agent agreement, and not the agency clause itself. If you see one of these perpetual agency clauses, I suggest strongly reconsidering signing with that agent.

Ryan Field said...

Thanks. I can see there's a huge difference.

Adaora A. said...

Thanks so much for this post Mr. Lyons (as well as your reply in the comments section). I love your blog and other great agent's on the blogosphere. It's like a fog being lifted from my head. You're posts are invaluable.

Quick Question:

What happens if the author's book is optioned for film? Would it be the same in terms of payment as selling the book to a publisher?

Linnea said...

Fortunately I have a legal background and love pulling apart contracts and agreements to see who benefits how and for how long. Sold my first novel directly to a publisher but hope to get an agent for my current WIP. Your advice is always printed out and retained in my rather bulky file on pitching agents and negotiating contracts. Thanks.

Jonathan Lyons said...

Hi Adaora. Yes, it would be the same thing.

Adaora A. said...

Thank you very much for answering my question Mr. Lyons.

Jolie said...

Thank you for the information.