The cost of having an agent


Yesterday on twitter several people, including myself, participated in a lively debate on how a change to how agents earn their money might be necessary. You can check it out at hashtag #agentpay.   It started off with a simple question posed by Uber Agent Colleen Lindsay.  She asked, “How would publishing change if agenting moved from commission-based payment to billable hours?” (Now to give her and the other agents who participated credit, it was a hypothetical question.  Not one of the agents was asking for an immediate change and not many really wanted it–from what I could tell, but it did raise some good points.)

Agents are doing A LOT more than they were 20, 10, even 5 years ago and a lot of people including the authors of these agents feeling agents are getting underpaid for all that they do.  I happen to agree with this.  My agent has gone above and beyond her job duties to not only read my query in the first place, but when she signed me she already had a ton of awesome notes on how to make my story better.  She still continues to help me get my mss into the hands of the perfect publisher.  

No I’m not one of those people who “agent worship,” but I do believe that my agent has earned every percent of her commission and really she does deserve more money for doing it.  

Now onto the question of billable hours vs commission.  I’m not a proponent of it.  For various reasons.  At this point, I could go on and on why I’m not, but I’m going to direct you to the awesome blog of Victoria Strauss.  I agree with EVERYTHING she’s said here and she’s said it better than I ever could.  

After you read it come back and I welcome you to share your opinions here.  But please no agent bashing.  I will delete it.  I will listen to both sides, but I don’t want to hear about money grubbing agents, k?  Thanks.   

6 Responses to “The cost of having an agent”

  1. MJ Heiser says:

    >Since I'm not represented, I don't really have much to contribute to this discussion except to say that agent-bashing is the equivalent of being a mean-spirited child. There's no place for it in honest, forthright discussion.

  2. Jessie says:

    >One thing Victoria said: "Several lawyers participating in the discussion also pointed out that keeping timesheets for billing is a soul-sucking timesink that no one in their right mind would want to undertake."

    I was amongst these lawyers. Don't do it, agents! You'll hate it.

    But I'm not totally opposed to them selling side services – like marketing, etc. I know when I get an agent, I'll want her to be happy & able to earn a living.

  3. salarsenッ says:

    >Still out of the agent scene and not quite ready anyway, my only comment is that agents, editors, and authors of today have to put a lot more 'me' time and effort into helping works see the light of print. I'm not sure what the answer is, but I do believe everyone needs to receive just payment. ";-)

  4. Elle Strauss says:

    >Why not give agents a bonus after a sale? I think a lot of aspiring writers don't have a lot of money and if they had to pay an agent up front, it could be difficult. But after a sale? Then, why not show a little love above the commission percentage?

  5. Roland D. Yeomans says:

    >A good question. Most first books don't do well as it is. If you hit a struggling writer will billable hours for an agent, he or she will probably have to float a loan to cover them.

    How uncool is that? Roland

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