Saturday, May 24, 2014

Should I allow my agent to negotiate my deal?

Hey Mr. Lukeman,

I just signed on with an agent. He has been great so far, already sending out a manuscript of mine. The problem is, just before he made me an offer I began working directly with a publisher on a separate non-fiction book proposal of mine. The publisher really likes it, and I think that a deal may happen soon.

If a deal is offered by the publisher, should I bring my in to negotiate the contract? I’m sure that he could help me get the best deal, or even potentially shop it around to other publishers. That said, I did all of the groundwork.


It's a bit hard for me to answer without knowing if you signed the agent for fiction or non-fiction, but I will assume the latter. In either case, since you like this agent and he had been doing well by you, then I would indeed allow the agent to negotiate this deal. First of all, if he's a good agent he will get you more than the 15% you pay him and can protect you in the contract in ways you don't anticipate; second, the publisher will give you more respect knowing you have an agent and he can be there to deal with any thorny issues that arise during the multi-year process; third, you have to think long term. Over the course of a career you may write many books, and what matters more than this one book is having a good agent by your side who is devoted to you and can help you navigate it all and get you many deals. Bringing him this deal will help endear him to you. This is especially true with non-fiction, as often writers have to reinvent themselves with each book and concept and go out there and find a new publisher all over again. If you were an author of commercial fiction with a huge sales record, it would be a different story.

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