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Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Need a Literary Agent? Watch Your Step

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


Writer Beware just posted the latest email from PublishAmerica to their authors. For $199 a title, they'll market your book to "big ticket" NY publishers.

This is not how literary agents work. They work for you, on a commission. You bet it's darned difficult to land an agent. Know why? They're only human and can only handle so many clients at a time. The work doesn't end when they sell a book for a client. They negotiate the contract with the best interests of the author in mind. They get really, really nitpicky over royalty statements, and challenge any discrepancies. They'll help you get the best deal on foreign and subsidiary rights. Sure, they get 15% for that, but in most cases the author is going come out at least as well as - most likely better then - going it alone. 

Legitimate literary agents are greedy - in a way that's very good for you. Since they get a commission, they're going to negotiate the best deal possible. More money for you means more for them. 

And here's the kicker - they don't get that 15% until the publisher cuts a check. 

So why would you pay up front? My advice is don't. But don't believe me, believe the folks at Writer Beware, who have been helping writers since 1988.

Small disclaimer: I'm a member of SFWA, and Writer Beware was one of the reasons I joined. Their mission is to help all writers. You don't have to be a member to ask a question or get help. I'm really big on paying it forward, and I felt joining SFWA was one way to do that.

The road to publication does not always run through a literary agent or a big NY house, but you can make the road less perilous by doing your homework and learning how to avoid the pitfalls. 

Tags: Publishing

Filed under: Publishing            
5/28/2011 2:23:02 PM
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