What Do You Expect?

December 3rd, 2009

expectationsMoonrat, otherwise known as Editorial Ass, has a brilliant post up on her blog today, entitled What Can I Expect of My Agent? Her big two must haves: Full Fiscal Disclosure and Comfortable Communication. Click through for the rest, including some frequently asked questions.

But what does that MEAN? Moonrat explains some, but I’ll add my own thoughts as well.

In terms of Full Fiscal Disclosure, as an author, you are entitled to all the information your agent receives about the financial status of your books. Have they earned out? By how much? How many copies have sold? When money comes in from a publisher, your share should be sent to you within 5 to 10 business days of receipt (specific times may vary depending on each agent, but should be laid out in writing in your agent agreement). In addition, all money for an agent’s clients should be kept in a separate bank account than the one the agent uses for his or her general business expenses. This is a standard set out by the Association of Author’s Representatives (the AAR), an organization I’m proud to have officially joined. To whit:

Members must maintain separate bank accounts for money due their clients so that there is no commingling of clients’ and members’ funds. Members shall deposit funds received on behalf of clients promptly upon receipt, and shall make payments of domestic earnings due clients promptly, but in no event later than ten business days after clearance.

It’s the second rule in the AAR’s Canon of Ethics, which shows how important it is.

Comfortable Communication is a less structured idea, but basically, I see it as this: if you’re my client, I have time for you. Always. You want to know what’s going on with your book? I’m going to tell you. Your emails are not ignored, and any question you may have for me is treated with respect and due consideration. Now, does that mean that I’m going to respond to your worried emails at 11:35pm instantaneously? Probably not, but then again, I just might. What I’m not going to do is ignore them for days.

I hear about these authors who don’t get responses from their agents to emails or phone calls for weeks on end, and I just don’t understand! Sure, something may come up in a day, and I might not be able to respond to your question the same day I receive it (probably because I’m dealing with something else for another client), but I WILL respond. That’s my promise to my clients.

In fact, as soon as I finish this blog post, I’m going to respond to an author’s email I received yesterday, that I wasn’t able to get to right away.

For another agent’s thoughts on what being an agent means in terms of responses, please check out Rachelle Gardner’s recent post on griping:

if you’re an unagented author, you should be glad agents prioritize their clients over the thousands of non-clients who contact us each year. One of these days when you have an agent, you’ll want your agent paying more attention to you than to all those others who are clamoring for attention.

What do you think? What do you want in an agent that we haven’t covered? What’s the most important thing to you in that relationship?

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