Whichever agent you choose to work with, both of you have the right to expect professional behavior from each other. The Writer’s Bill of Rights and the Agent’s Bill of Rights that follow suggest a reasonable set of expectations for your relationship. As always, trust your instincts and your common sense.
A Writer’s Bill of Rights:
- As long as your expectations are realistic, you have a right to be satisfied with what happens to your work.
- You have the right to approve of how your agent is handling your work.
- You have the right to expect professionalism in your agent’s relationships with publishers and with you.
- You have the right to see all correspondence about your work.
- If your agent declines to handle a project, you have the right to sell it or hire another agent to sell it.
- If your agent exhausts all the possibilities for your work and can do no more to sell it, you have the right to take the project back and try to sell it yourself or through another agent, whether or not you continue to work with your first agent.
- You have the right to be informed promptly about all offers for and helpful responses to your work. You have the right to receive prompt replies to your letters and phone calls.
- You have the right to understand and approve agreements negotiated on your behalf. You have the right to receive money due you promptly.
- You have the right to have your business affairs kept confidential.
- As long as you don’t abuse your agent’s time, you have the right to ask your agent for news and encouragement.
- You have the right to have reasonable changes made in your agency agreement at any time.
- You have the right to stop working with an agent who is not representing you to your satisfaction.
- If you end your relationship with your agent, you have the right to receive your work back with rejection letters. Top
An Agent’s Bill of Rights
- Your agent has the right to work however he or she wishes.
- Your agent has the right to expect the same degree of professionalism from you that you expect from your agent.
- Your agent has the right to represent a book that competes with yours, provided that handling the competitive book doesn’t lessen the agent’s ability to represent your book.
- If a buyer approaches you about your work or writing services, only your agent has the right to negotiate on your behalf.
- Except for work you agree to exclude, your agent has the right to be the only person to represent all of your work for every commercial use.
- Your agent has the right to continue trying to place a project as long as the agent is competently and conscientiously trying to do so.
- Your agent has the right to be spared excessive letters, phone calls, and visits. Your agent has the right to be spared requests that are not part of an agent’s job.
- In contracts negotiated for you, your agent has the right to include an agent’s clause specifying the commission, the agent’s right to receive income and mail for you, and the right to act as agent on your behalf.
- Your agent has the right not to return earned commissions.
- If a problem develops between you and your agent, your agent has the right to discuss it with you and to try to help solve it to your mutual satisfaction.
- Your agent has the right to stop representing you at any time.
- If your agent does a good job for you, the agent earns the right to keep you as a client.
- Your agent has a right to keep his or her home address and phone number private.
Adapted from How To Get A Literary Agent by Michael Larsen (Sourcebooks)