Welcome to the Spann of Time edition of the April A-to-Z blogging challenge! For the next 26 blogging days (excluding Sundays) we’ll be taking an alphabetical journey through publishing law!
Agency is a legal term which describes a special relationship between two people. One, the agent, has a legal and fiduciary duty to act on behalf and in the best interests of the other (usually referred to as the “principal”).
Authors seeking traditional publication generally seek and employ a literary agent. Literary agents represent the author and/or a specific work (my agent represents me as an author, not just my first published novel.)
A full discussion of agency (literary or otherwise) takes more time and space than we have, but here are a few more facts about literary agents and agency:
1. Literary agents have a fiduciary duty to act in the author’s best interests. This is a higher standard of responsibility than is imposed on many business relationships.
2. Authors seeking a literary agent will need to perfect a pitch and a query letter – two concepts we’ll be discussing later this month.
3. Agency doesn’t guarantee sale of an author’s work. While most agents work very hard to sell every book they agree to represent, sometimes a work takes years (or longer) to find its publishing home – and occasionally, they never do.
4. Most agents ask authors to sign an agency agreement or agency contract setting forth the terms of representation. Authors should read the agency contract carefully and ask questions about confusing terms. Some authors have a publishing attorney review the agency contract too.
Have questions about literary agency? Ask them in the comments and I’ll gladly respond!