Thursday, January 4, 2007

New writer questions

I have just taken on a novelist. She sent me a few questions about our relationship, and I thought I would share our correspondence.

1. To whom will you submit my work?

The 7 major New York publishers, and some of the minor NY publishers who do innovative fiction. At most, 15.

2. What timetable? Does it go out to only one at a

I hope to go out with this on the 17th to about 10 houses simultaneously.

3. Will you keep me updated on what happens?

Sort of. What I mean by that is that I'll let you know when someone has passed, but if their reason is not really relevant to your writing, I won't forward you the rejection letter. I just find it's not helpful to an author's ego to get a lot of rejection. All you need is one publisher to say yes, so who really cares what the nay-sayers say?

4. When will I get the Author/Agent contract, and how?

I work on a handshake.

5. Which rights typically go to the publisher and
for how long? Which rights does the author typically retain?

If they give you a low offer, we will try to keep the foreign rights. I have agents in 14 foreign counties. You always keep the film and merchandising rights. I have film agents I work with in LA. Audio and ebook rights usually go to the publisher with a request for reversion should they be unable to sell them after a reasonable period of time.

6. How flexible do you find those? Depends on the advance.

7. Will you be asking for a two-book deal? Yes.

8. What is the typical advance for work like mine?

If only one publisher is interested, and they see this as mass market or trade, you can expect an advance between $5000 and $12,500. If they see it as a chance to get in on a wonderful once-in-a-decade series, 10 to 20 times that, especially if more than one house sees it that way. But set your expectations on the low end and you won't be disappointed.

9. Do you charge 15%?

Yes. If we retain the foreign rights, the precentage goes to 20% because I share the agency fee with my foreign agents.


s.w. vaughn said...

All you need is one publisher to say yes, so who really cares what the nay-sayers say?

This is the best sentence I've read in a long time. *G*

merlinsmuse said...

Hi, Lori. I came over from Jenny's blog. I'm glad to see that you're getting into the whole blogging craze, and I look forward to seeing what you have to say about the industry. Every bit of information helps.

Have a great day,

Anonymous said...

So far I quite like this blog, I mean it is early days yet. Can I make one request though? The loud pink/purple background is a bit headache inducing and I found reading the entry really tricky. If you ever write something more dense (literally dense with words), it might make it impossible to read.

Anyway, like what I see! keep up the good work!

Kimber Li said...

What if a new author is uncomfortable with working on a handshake and prefers a contract?

Barbara Sheridan said...

I came over here via Jenny's blong and I hope you'll be answering some questions on your posts because this comment caught my eye:

... If they see it as a chance to get in on a wonderful
once-in-a-decade series...

As a reader and writer I love series books and I'm wondering is it harder for a newer or non "brand name" author to get series interest especially when looking for an agent?
How woudl you respond when you show interest in a project (not necessarily an offer of representation but say a request for a full) and the author says "As it happens I have W, X and Y, related books completed and I'm working on book Z now."

Does it come across that the author is stuck in their own ficitonal universe or does it show that they're thinking ahead and will be ready should the initial project interest you enough to take it on?

Zoe Winters said...

Thanks for sharing this! I have a question though...why do you "work on a handshake?" instead of using an author/agent contract? I would think that it would protect the interests of both parties to have some kind of rudimentary contract in place.

Anonymous said...

Hey, welcome to the blogging world! I love reading these industry blogs. The more the merrier, I say.

I knew deals with publishers were usually sealed with handshakes, but I didn't realize there were agents expecting the same from authors. I can't imagine going into any business relationship without a written contract.

What happens if the author insists on one? They can't be faulted for that, can they?

Alison Ashley Formento said...

Welcome to blogging and for this post. I enjoy Jenny Rappaport's site and was happy to find this link.

Anonymous said...

Greetings from the world of blogging! Another agent is most welcome! I look forward to your insights - today's was excellent.

Anonymous said...

Cool. Insider information is always good to have ;) I'll keep an eye on your page.

Rashenbo said...

Very helpful information. Thank you for sharing. :)

Anonymous said...

I followed you over from Writing Aspirations and this sounds very interesting. Great blog :o)