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Author Topic: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question  (Read 7213 times)  

Offline RichardDenoncourt

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Hey guys,

Cinzia DuBois from Tin-Can Telephone Literary Agency is interested in representing me, which is exciting.

They're located in Edinburgh, UK. Anyone have experience with them?

Also, there was some language in the contract she sent me that I wasn't too sure about. Is this standard?

"I shall be entitled to charge you for the following concerning works written by you:

1.   Books and proofs bought by the agency for promotional purposes and for submission to publishers abroad.
2.   Photocopying of manuscripts and sales material (press cuttings etc.)
3.   Couriers
4.   Other exceptional expenses which may be incurred with your prior approval"
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Offline Ross Harrison

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2017, 07:46:08 AM »
Isn't conventional wisdom that if an 'agent' is going to charge you for things, they aren't a proper agent?

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Offline Berries

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 07:48:37 AM »
Quote
"I shall be entitled to charge you for the following concerning works written by you:

1.   Books and proofs bought by the agency for promotional purposes and for submission to publishers abroad.
2.   Photocopying of manuscripts and sales material (press cuttings etc.)
3.   Couriers
4.   Other exceptional expenses which may be incurred with your prior approval"

No, this isn't standard. Agents don't charge... I'd think twice before signing :(

Lucinda Berry

Offline RichardDenoncourt

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2017, 07:52:38 AM »
Isn't conventional wisdom that if an 'agent' is going to charge you for things, they aren't a proper agent?

I'm inclined to agree, though at least she isn't charging for a fee for her general surface.

Anyone know if this is standard practice? Maybe it is in the UK?
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Offline RichardDenoncourt

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2017, 07:53:25 AM »
No, this isn't standard. Agents don't charge... I'd think twice before signing :(

I'm going to try and hop on a call with her first to see what's up with this.
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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2017, 07:56:26 AM »
Agents never charge their authors for anything, so this can't possibly be a serious / professional offer. Sounds like a vanity shtick to me.

This is doubly true if they contacted you first, not the other way round.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 07:58:03 AM by C. Rysalis »

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Offline RichardDenoncourt

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2017, 08:00:44 AM »
Agents never charge their authors for anything, so this can't possibly be a serious / professional offer. Sounds like a vanity shtick to me.

This is doubly true if they contacted you first, not the other way round.

I contacted her and she requested the manuscript, then got back to me 2 weeks later. Standard process.

Their agency sounds legit, though. I'll have to ask her tomorrow during out call.

Will report back.
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Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2017, 08:06:07 AM »
I definitely wouldn't sign any contract that had language like that in it, and it would probably make me break off further negotiations with them, if they're the type of company to even try to get me to sign something like that.

My general approach is that if someone's trying to take advantage of me or nickel-and-dime me from the get-go, it's not going to improve as the relationship continues.

Offline RichardDenoncourt

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2017, 08:15:41 AM »
I live in Canada and had a well known British agency repping me for several years - there were no charges. My husband was also represented by a British agent for a time and she didn't charge him for anything either.  What you're mentioning definitely isn't standard in terms of British literary agencies.

Good to know. I'll be speaking with her tomorrow and will be asking about these and any other charges.

One question I'll definitely be asking: if I choose not to pay for promotional copies or book submissions, does this mean you (my agent) will not be submitting my books to editors? Will manuscripts be sent instead via email?
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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2017, 08:22:00 AM »
Something to keep in mind: agents are only supposed to make any money when their author does. If they help you sign with a publisher, they get a cut. They should be motivated to do their best for you for that reason. Because if they don't, they get no cut.

If the agent gets money without a contract being signed, they already make a profit and might not be very motivated to work hard on your behalf. Besides, there's no way for you to know whether the amount charged actually correlates with the amount of photocopies made etc.

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Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2017, 08:26:24 AM »
One question I'll definitely be asking: if I choose not to pay for promotional copies or book submissions, does this mean you (my agent) will not be submitting my books to editors? Will manuscripts be sent instead via email?

Based just on what you pasted above, it doesn't sound like the contract gives you the ability to choose not to pay for those things. It sounds like by signing the contract with this language in it, that is you giving blanket permission for them to do all of those things and then charge you for them. Which, aside from that being not the way things are done at all in a reputable agency, leaves you on the hook for an unknown amount of money, based on what they decide to charge you, because by signing you've already given them permission to do so. The "other expenses" are the only thing it says they need additional approval from you for, and one could reasonably argue that the fact that they explicitly say that for that one point means that they don't need additional approval for the things that were listed above it.

(I don't have legal training or anything, but I look at contracts for a living, and looking for those little loopholes/details is part of what I do. Always remember: what they tell you in person or on the phone or in an e-mail doesn't matter. Don't believe what they tell you some part of the contract means or how it will be enforced. Only what's actually written in the contract itself matters.)
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 08:29:10 AM by Puddleduck »

Offline RichardDenoncourt

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2017, 08:26:55 AM »
Something to keep in mind: agents are only supposed to make any money when their author does. If they help you sign with a publisher, they get a cut. They should be motivated to do their best for you for that reason. Because if they don't, they get no cut.

If the agent gets money without a contract being signed, they already make a profit and might not be very motivated to work hard on your behalf. Besides, there's no way for you to know whether the amount charged actually correlates with the amount of photocopies made etc.

Very good points. I would ask for receipts in that case, and the name of the publisher it was sent to.
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Offline RichardDenoncourt

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2017, 08:28:03 AM »
Based just on what you pasted above, it doesn't sound like the contract gives you the ability to choose not to pay for those things. It sounds like by signing the contract with this language in it, that is you giving blanket permission for them to do all of those things and then charge you for them. Which, aside from that being not the way things are done at all in a reputable agency, leaves you on the hook for an unknown amount of money, based on what they decide to charge you, because by signing you've already given them permission to do so.

(I don't have legal training or anything, but I look at contracts for a living, and looking for those little loopholes/details is part of what I do. Always remember: what they tell you in person or on the phone or in an e-mail doesn't matter. Don't believe what they tell you some part of the contract means or how it will be enforced. Only what's actually written in the contract itself matters.)

Awesome feedback. I would definitely make sure everything we talk about is included in a revised contract before signing.
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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2017, 08:29:03 AM »
From a strictly business standpoint, I looked at the authors listed on the website and I think only two have anything published and those two books aren't selling at all. I would search for an agent who has actual sellers under his/her belt.

Amanda M. Lee

Offline Robert A Michael

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2017, 09:45:02 AM »
SFWA has a blog titled Writer Beware: The Blog. They have good information on there about standard practices, contracts, lists of scammers, etc.

Another thing to consider: although it's flattering to be pursued by an agent, it might also be cause for caution. The question (beyond the dubious contract verbiage) is whether this agent will be able to represent you well. In what markets does he/she have experience? What are her contacts? Does she specialize in foreign rights?

Although it is off-putting to be charged for marketing expenses, it would not be uncommon with a small agent with very few authors under his/her belt. Not unethical, just not competitive in the market when other agents have moved past this practice in the late 90s.

Good luck, no matter what you decide.

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Offline RichardDenoncourt

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2017, 10:18:07 AM »
Something to keep in mind: agents are only supposed to make any money when their author does. If they help you sign with a publisher, they get a cut. They should be motivated to do their best for you for that reason. Because if they don't, they get no cut.

If the agent gets money without a contract being signed, they already make a profit and might not be very motivated to work hard on your behalf. Besides, there's no way for you to know whether the amount charged actually correlates with the amount of photocopies made etc.

I especially agree with the last point.
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Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2017, 10:18:40 AM »
Their agency sounds legit, though.

No it doesnt. Not in the slightest. Any agency that can't pay for sending their own mail isn't a real agency. Sorry, but you'd better forget about this one completely.

Offline RichardDenoncourt

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #17 on: October 12, 2017, 10:33:40 AM »
SFWA has a blog titled Writer Beware: The Blog. They have good information on there about standard practices, contracts, lists of scammers, etc.

Another thing to consider: although it's flattering to be pursued by an agent, it might also be cause for caution. The question (beyond the dubious contract verbiage) is whether this agent will be able to represent you well. In what markets does he/she have experience? What are her contacts? Does she specialize in foreign rights?

Although it is off-putting to be charged for marketing expenses, it would not be uncommon with a small agent with very few authors under his/her belt. Not unethical, just not competitive in the market when other agents have moved past this practice in the late 90s.

Good luck, no matter what you decide.

Thanks for this. I'll add those questions about who else they represent, foreign rights, etc. Good stuff.
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Offline RichardDenoncourt

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2017, 10:34:57 AM »
No it doesnt. Not in the slightest. Any agency that can't pay for sending their own mail isn't a real agency. Sorry, but you'd better forget about this one completely.

I'll speak with her soon and get to the bottom of that issue. I'm curious more than anything else. I'll report back what I find out.
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Offline Dan Phalen

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2017, 10:53:03 AM »
Agent Janet Reid offers free advice for all aspects of the query process, no strings, straight up fact. She's a terrific gal, very witty, and very experienced. Almost daily she posts a question such as yours and answers in detail. Pose your question just as you began this thread, and I'm sure she'll answer either by email or on the blog.

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #20 on: October 12, 2017, 11:03:03 AM »
I'll speak with her soon and get to the bottom of that issue. I'm curious more than anything else. I'll report back what I find out.
Quit the needless parlay. You don't need to ask any questions or get any answers, which should be obvious from the comments you've been given here. This so-called agent has already identified what she is, front door to a vanity press. Chances are any publisher she signs you with will also require payment up front from you. Run don't walk.


Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #21 on: October 12, 2017, 11:10:02 AM »
I can find no footprint on Publishers Marketplace, and while there is a listing on QueryTracker, it's very slender, and for the agency in general, not the agent in particular. Your people are based in the UK, so maybe they have a bigger profile over there.

As for charging for stuff, some older agency contracts had this. I can't imagine needing any photocopying expenses in this day and age. Ask them to strike it, at the least.

Offline RichardDenoncourt

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #22 on: October 12, 2017, 11:12:36 AM »
Quit the needless parlay. You don't need to ask any questions or get any answers, which should be obvious from the comments you've been given here. This so-called agent has already identified what she is, front door to a vanity press. Chances are any publisher she signs you with will also require payment up front from you. Run don't walk.

Let's just say I'll consider this a learning experience. Then I can share that with you guys.
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Offline RichardDenoncourt

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #23 on: October 12, 2017, 11:13:52 AM »
As for charging for stuff, some older agency contracts had this. I can't imagine needing any photocopying expenses in this day and age. Ask them to strike it, at the least.

That's what I was thinking, too. Might just be old-fashioned UK verbiage. No offense to any Brits.
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Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: Agent interested in me!!! Anyone know TCT? Also...contract question
« Reply #24 on: October 12, 2017, 11:15:51 AM »
Let's just say I'll consider this a learning experience. Then I can share that with you guys.

It doesn't hurt to talk. This might be a discussion you want to take to Absolute Write. People here are a little more hostile to trad publishing than over there, so if going that route is what you want, getting some trad route thoughts might not hurt.