I heard a disturbing rumor — and I have to repeat, this is a rumor, not something I saw personally — about an agency contract that takes a standard commission on an author’s self-published books. Self-published. So the author would be contractually obligated to pay 15% of their self-published royalties to the agent even if the agent has never laid eyes on the book.
The theory behind this is that the agent is “building” the author’s career through traditional sales, and the author benefits from that in direct published sales, so the agent is entitled to a cut.
This is utter garbage, of course. Not every tenuous connection creates an entitlement. What’s next — if you write on your day job, they can take 15% of your day job salary, too? Agents act as brokers, selling books to publishers and earning a commission on those sales. Why should they ever be entitled to earn anything without performing the work?
You know what’s really going on here? They’re gambling that you’re more desperate than they are. They’re pretty desperate, some of these agents, because sales and advances are falling across the board, so agents are taking hits just as much as anyone in this business. Or, to put it another way, 15% of nothing is nothing.
. . . .
So what’s 15% in perpetuity on work the agency never sold? As long as the agent signs you, it’s all good, right? No. Not right at all. For one thing, you don’t know that this agent will ever sell a single thing for you. Plenty of authors are signed but never sold. You don’t know whether this agent will treat you well or screw things up for you — and if you don’t understand that agents can screw up a writer’s career, you haven’t spent much time talking to writers about agents.
Link to the rest at edittorent and thanks to Clare for the tip.
Has anybody seen this?