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 J. Carlton Ross



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Questions For Agents

The following is a suggested list of topics for authors to discuss with literary  agents with whom they are entering into a professional relationship. This list was provided by: The Association of Authors' Representatives, Inc.  

10 Astor Place, 3rd Floor, New York, NY, USA 10003 (212) 353-3709. 

The AAR will send you a list of member agents, a copy of the AAR's Canon of Ethics, and a brochure describing some basics about agents in general and the AAR in particular if you send a SASE #10 envelope with 55 cents in postage and a check or money order made payable to the AAR for US $7.00 (do not send  cash).  

1.Is your agency a sole proprietorship? A partnership? A corporation?

2.Are you a member of the Association of Authors' Representatives?

3.How long have you been in business as an agent?

4.How many people does your agency employ?

5.Of the total number of employees, how many are agents, as opposed to clerical workers?

6.Do you have specialists at your agency who handle movie and television rights? Foreign rights? Do you have sub-agents or corresponding agents overseas and in Hollywood?

7.Do you represent other authors in my areas of interest?

8.Who in your agency will actually be handling my work? Will the other staff members be familiar with my work and the status of my business at your agency? Will you oversee or at least keep me apprised of the work that your agency is doing on my behalf?

9.Do you issue an agent-author contract? May I review a specimen copy?  And may I review the language of the agency clause that appears in contracts you negotiate for your clients?

10.What is your approach to providing editorial input and career guidance for your clients or for me specifically?

11.How do you keep your clients informed of your activities on their behalf? Do you regularly send them copies of publishers' rejection letters? Do you provide them with submission lists and rejection letters on request? Do you regularly, or upon request, send out updated activity reports?  

12.Do you consult with your clients on any and all offers?

13.Some agencies sign subsidiary contracts on behalf of their clients to expedite processing. Do you?

14.What are your commissions for: 1) basic sales to U.S. publishers; 2) sales of movie and television rights; 3) audio and multimedia rights; 4) British and foreign translation rights?

15.What are your procedures and time-frames for processing and disbursing client funds? Do you keep different bank accounts separating author funds from agency revenue?

16.What are your policies about charging clients for expenses incurred by your agency? Will you list such expenses for me? Do you advance money for such expenses? Do you consult with your clients before advancing certain expenditures? Is there a ceiling on such expenses above which you feel you must consult with your clients?

17. How do you handle legal, accounting, public relations or similar professional services that fall outside the normal range of a literary agency's functions?

18. Do you issue 1099 tax forms at the end of each year? Do you also furnish clients upon request with a detailed account of their financial activity, such as gross income, commissions and other deductions, and net income, for the past year?

19.In the event of your death or disability, or the death or disability of the principal person running the agency, what provisions exist for continuing operation of my account, for the processing of money due to me, and for the handling of my books and editorial needs?

  20.If we should part company, what is your policy about handling any sold subsidiary rights to my work that were reserved to me under the original publishing contracts?

21.What are your expectations of me as a client?

22.Do you have a list of Do's and Don'ts for your clients that will enable me to help you do your job better?  



    •      What is your background and training as a literary agent?

    •      What is your standard commission for domestic sales?

    •      What is your standard commission for foreign sales?

    •      What other fees (photocopying, postage, etc.), if any, do you charge?

    •      Can you name some recent books you've sold in my genre?

    •      Which publishing houses were they sold to?

    •      Who are some of your clients?

    •      Are you comfortable handling a client who writes in my genre?

    •      Do you require a written contract with your clients or do you operate with an oral agreement?

    •      Do you handle foreign, film or TV rights?

    •      How many copies of a book do you typically send out at a time?

    •      How regularly do you keep in touch with your clients?

    •      Do you charge any extraneous fees for photocopying, postage or similar office expenses?

    •      Are there any questions you'd like to ask me?  



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