The day has finally arrived! After slogging through manuscripts, enduring the seemingly unending cycle of query and rejection, you did it—your dream agent has tendered an offer of representation. Celebrate!
There are plenty of articles and blog posts out there that tell you what kinds of questions to ask your agent to determine if you and they will be able to work together. What did you like about my book? How many books have you sold? How often do you touch base with your authors? Etc., etc. But once those questions are answered to your satisfaction and you’re staring at that author-agent agreement with all its legalese, what should you do?
Before you post that video on Instagram of you signing that contract with a flourish, stop for a minute. Read the agreement. Yeah, yeah, but no one reads the fine print, right? Maybe, but this time, you need to. Seriously, READ it.
Easy for me to say, but I also know author-agent agreements can be overwhelming. So instead of giving up and just signing it anyway, focus on these four things:
I’m not going to tell you what the correct answers to any of these questions should be. That’s for you to decide, preferably in consultation with a knowledgeable adviser, whether it be a lawyer or an experienced writer friend. You also shouldn’t hesitate to ask the agent these questions, and any other questions you can think of—your agent is there is help you, and you need to be able to trust each other. But when you understand and you’re okay with the terms of the agreement, you are setting the stage for a long and mutually successful relationship with your agent.
A lawyer by day, Marin McGinnis feeds the more creative part of her soul by writing romance and mystery. She's spent almost half her life in a tree-lined, unabashedly liberal suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. She's been married to the same guy for 25 years, and has one teenage son and three standard poodles.
Marin has dabbled in writing ever since she was in her 20s, but she didn’t finish anything until she hit her 40s. While her very first completed manuscript will forever languish under the bed, Marin subsequently published four Victorian-era romances. She is currently at work on a new historical romance series, a historical mystery series set in the English Lake District, a contemporary cozy mystery series, and a screenplay (because why write one thing when you can write four at once?). In a never-ending quest to ditch the day job, Marin also works as a freelance copy editor and lectures on various writing topics.
When she’s not writing, editing, or lawyering, she’s cooking for family and friends, learning how to (and how not to) bake bread, and spending far too much time watching superhero movies.
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