To Say I Told You So…
But that would be petty. (Grin)
Yes, this is a post about book agents.
You see, for the last decade or more I have been trying my best to talk sense into normally very intelligent people when it comes to agents. But the myth is so powerful that really smart people do the stupidest things when the word “agent” is mentioned in publishing.
Example… Writers allow agents to tell them how to write a novel, even though the agent has never written a novel in their life. Yet writers will rewrite and rewrite to try to please some agent, spending years of time.
Example… Writers will sign an agency contract giving the agent control and 15% of the copyright for the life of the copyright anything they have represented and/or sold for the writer. (Similar to giving someone who mows your lawn 15% of the ownership of your home. Just as stupid, but don’t tell writers that. Thankfully, a person who mows lawns doesn’t call themselves a book agent.)
Example… A writer signs a contract with a publisher that allows an agent to take all the money from the contract AND ALL THE PAPERWORK from the contract. (Normally smart writers in real world would never do such a stupid thing, yet when it comes to book agents, they do exactly that under the guise of “common practice.”)
And I have been warning and warning and warning people about what might happen, what does happen, and what Kris and I have experienced happening with book agents over the years.
So today my email blew up with all kinds of people telling me about this crime that happened in New York. (Thank you, everyone, for sending me the information.)
In summary, what happened was that an accountant for a very major book agency in New York stole over 3.4 million from writers, and the number may go much, much higher.
This was going on for years and years. Why could this go on for years and years???? Because, oh, let me think, the writer signed a contract giving all the money and all the paperwork to the agent. In other words, the writers didn’t even know they were owed all the money.
(Sometimes, I am embarrassed to call myself a writer because of stupidity like this case.)
The solution is simple. In the contract, simply have the money split. 15% to the agent, 85% to the writer, directly from the publisher, with two sets of identical paperwork. If your agent won’t do this, RUN SCREAMING. And then have them audited at once.
So now this major agency and all the writers who were too stupid to even know they were owed money are facing an even larger problem, if that is possible.
What could be worse??? Simple. It is highly unlikely that the agency will be able to pay back the vast sums of money this person took and spent over almost a decade. So very likely the agency will have to declare bankruptcy.
Oh, oh…. Those agency contracts the dumber-than-posts writers signed might very well be assets of the bankruptcy. And can be sold. Oh, oh…
And it gets worse and worse and worse from there.
Folks, this kind of thing happens all the time in agencies. Small and large cases of it. Kris and I got ripped off more times than I want to try to count by agents and agencies and overseas agents before we finally got rid of them all and started making a ton more money for some reason.
But I have said that now for over a decade, maybe longer. But the myth of agents and following the herd of stupidity is strong. It turns normally very smart people into drooling idiots with a simple business card with the word “agent” embossed on it.
Agents are a wart on the butt of publishing. They are not regulated in any way and anyone can call themselves an agent without a lick of training.
You don’t need them and if you let them take care of your money, you get what you deserve I’m afraid.
I feel honestly sorry for the writers caught up in this one agency mess. They have no brains and now they must scream. (Sorry, Harlan…)
Or something like that.
Screw it… I’m going to say it.
I told you so.