A few days ago, Passive Guy discussed a blog post at edittorrent about one or more agents reportedly asking for 15% of royalties from self-published books.
Author, lawyer and musician Pete Morin posted the following comment:
PG – there is a slight chance that this rumor might actually refer to me and my agent, because I have written something about it previously.
When my agent and I together made the decision that I would self-publish Diary of a Small Fish (the manuscript she had under contract – we’d waited 9 months for 6 editors to not respond), we discussed a strategy to pursue and how it would change the nature of the working relationship we had. Essentially, I had a second manuscript on the way, and we both wanted to continue to work together. She is a big believer in the idea of “building the author’s career” (the – ahem – “garbage”), she’s sold a lot of work for her authors, several of whom have both traddy and SP works in the market, and she works harder than any human being I’ve ever met.
My point in the post was that if we rewrote her job description to include activity outside of the typical agent’s (e.g., promote the book and the author in professional circles, help obtain panel/speaking assignments at conferences, raise profile, etc.), there should be a means of compensating her. In short, I proposed to compensate her, and she declined. So, we continue to work together anyway, and she awaits my second manuscript.
So if this is indeed referring to my situation, the rumor has turned the truth on its head. The agent did NOT demand or even ask for her commission, and when offered it, she declined.
I realize this upsets the cynical characterization of The Literary Agent these days, but there really are a few out there who actually get it, and embrace the dynamism of the marketplace. Being a battle-scarred 56 year old litigator, I can take care of myself, too.
PG is happy to heap scorn and ridicule on the seemingly endless supply of perfidious swindlers who prey on authors, but doesn’t want anyone who doesn’t fall into that class to be improperly labeled.