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5 Quick Tips for Writer/Agent Negotiations

Just because you're excited someone wants to represent you doesn't mean you should let them take advantage of you. Beware of these red flags when negotiating contracts with agents. by Howard G. Zaharoff

• Watch for red flags. Reputable agents generally don’t charge reading fees or require other upfront payments, they don’t sell (or at least, don’t brag about sales) to vanity presses, and they will readily identify other authors and projects they’ve represented.

• Beware of excessive commissions. The norm is now 15 percent for book sales, though it can be up to 20–25 percent for foreign sales (for which the agent works with a subagent) and 10–20 percent for movie, TV and theatrical sales.

• Avoid commissions on speaking fees. Most reputable agents will not try to horn in on these, and they really aren’t entitled to, unless they were directly responsible for getting you the engagement.

• Keep control over expenses. Ideally your agent will not charge for onesie-twosie copies or standard postage, but only for unusual expenses—long-distance charges, major copying, courier services—and will work within spending limits (nothing over a fixed amount, say $100–$250, without your approval).

• Insist on timely payment. Ideally, you’ll get paid your 85 percent directly by the publisher, though many agents insist on collecting the entire amount first. (This is fairly standard but poses risks, especially if the agent goes bankrupt—so some writers push for “split accounting,” which requires the publisher to pay them directly.) Although most publishers still report and pay royalties semi-annually, typically within three months after the semi-annual period ends (so the royalty for a book sold in January arrives in late September!), your agent should pay you promptly upon receiving the funds—ideally within 10 days, but no longer than 30.

How to Use Economic Class to Develop Characters

How to Use Economic Class to Develop Characters

Author Galia Gichon’s research for her historical fiction novel, The Accidental Suffragist, helped her understand the moment better, and infused what she learned into her characters.

Dog Ate My Homework

Dog Ate My Homework

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, put a new twist on an old saying.

Lecia Cornwall: On the Surprises of Historical Fiction

Lecia Cornwall: On the Surprises of Historical Fiction

Acclaimed author Lecia Cornwall discusses the many surprises she faced in writing her historical fiction novel, The Woman at the Front.

Texas Monthly: Market Spotlight

Texas Monthly: Market Spotlight

For this week's market spotlight, we look at Texas Monthly, an Austin-based regional magazine focused on stories about Texas and Texans.

Allusion vs. Elusion vs. Illusion (Grammar Rules)

Allusion vs. Elusion vs. Illusion (Grammar Rules)

Let's look at the differences between allusion, elusion, and illusion with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Guidelines

Prepare for the 14th annual November PAD Chapbook Challenge! Visit WritersDigest.com each day of November to get a prompt and write a poem. Then, use December and the beginning of January to revise and collect your poems into a chapbook manuscript.

How I Broke Into the Traditional Publishing World as an Indie Author

How I Broke Into the Traditional Publishing World as an Indie Author

Learn the process indie author Amanda Aksel went through in getting her novel Delia Suits Up traditionally published, including questions she asked herself and weighing one strategy against the other.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: 6 New WDU Courses, An Upcoming Webinar, a Competition Deadline, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce 6 new WDU Courses, an upcoming webinar, a competition deadline, and more!

Working With a Nonfiction Book Publisher Throughout the Process

Working With a Nonfiction Book Publisher Throughout the Process

A publisher accepting your manuscript is just the beginning, not the end. Author Rick Lauber discusses how to work with a nonfiction book publisher from query letter to release date and beyond.