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!
10 thoughts on “A is for Agency (or Agent, if you please)”
I didn’t know that! Very interesting. 🙂 I’m looking forward to seeing what your other posts will be.
Thanks! Glad you liked it – hopefully you stop in again – I’ll head over and check out It’s Raining Blue Umbrellas later today.
Interesting information. Thanks for sharing! I look forward to learning more through this challenge.
Thank you for stopping by!
Useful post for writers…Look forward to your challenge posts!
—Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012
A topic I’m hugely interested in due to my profession and my desire to publish my books in English speaking countries. Thanks for advice, I’ll be following.
Glad to hear you found me – and thank you for stopping by!
A great introduction. My only question is, what happens now that so many are trying self-publishing or Indie publishing? How are the rules going to change?
Great question, actually, and one many people are asking. In my opinion, the traditional system of agency representation will continue to exist (and coexist) alongside the new self-publishing model. Agents do far more than merely act as book-selling middlemen. Many take an active part in clients’ career planning, and some agents even take a pseudo-managerial role (in the sense of being a point of contact for the author, rather than public contacts going directly to the author himself or herself). There has been a lot of talk lately about self-publishing overwhelming or overtaking traditional publishing. I don’t see that happening. Certainly not in the near future and probably not in my lifetime, if ever. The industry may see some changes, but as long as traditional publishers continue to operate and publish (and despite rumors to the contrary, they are not teetering on the brink of collapse) the agency model will also continue.
I could give a more in-depth and fact-based explanation of why I think so (and probably will after A to Z is over) but hopefully that at least gives you my perspective.
OH, yes please. A is for Agent! LOL. I love your legalese and look forward to the remaining 24 letters!
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