Mistakes to Avoid: Check Out Your Agent

I had to post about this. Since I believe there is no single right path to publishing, that means for some people having an agent who represents your books to traditional publishers is a valid path. But like other aspects of business, it requires vigilance on the part of authors.

As I posted yesterday, authors MUST respect themselves, and take themselves seriously as business owners, not just as artists. Part of taking yourself seriously is being vigilant about the legal and financial relationships you enter. Like with your agent. Please read this post from Dean Wesley Smith and the comments by Laura Resnick and others that follow.

I like to think of myself as fairly cautious.  I call the Better Business Bureau and the Registrar of Contractors before I hire work done. But during the years I was submitting to agents I would have been one of those stupid authors Dean writes about. Even though I’d often heard that a bad agent is worse than no agent, and I asked around before I submitted, I would have rejoiced to have someone represent me, and I would have let a virtual stranger handle my money without a background check. Because that’s the way it was done.

That’s not the way it should be done. Split accounting is the smart way to get your royalties, and it will protect you and your agent from temptation. As for getting an agent, that may be in my future, but if I do, I won’t depend solely on word of mouth to support my evaluation.  I’ll ask some hard questions, and if I don’t like the answers, I’ll walk away.

3 Comments

Filed under writing

3 responses to “Mistakes to Avoid: Check Out Your Agent

  1. Totally agree Frankie. Before I was enlightened by Dean, I would have made the same stupid decision. I’m so glad he got to me and knocked some sense into me while I was still “young” enough in my career. Like you, I would never hire someone without checking them out first so why I’d not check an agent …. just plain stupidity. So thank you Dean, Kathryn and Frankie!

  2. “As I posted yesterday, authors MUST respect themselves, and take themselves seriously as business owners, not just as artists. Part of taking yourself seriously is being vigilant about the legal and financial relationships you enter. ” Such an awesome point. I’m in an MFA program right now that, while stressing the importance of craft, never really addresses the artist as a business owner. It’s so hard to learn this! Great post!

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