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August 25th, 2005, 07:41 PM
Some few of you might remember I've been writing this novel for quite some time which draws heaviliy on my best friends private lives and features an tiny insectoid demon who must be beheaded in one stroke.
Now I brought myself to deliver my nearly finished work to an literary agent here in Berlin who happens to be the girl friend of a pal of mine with whom I'm playing cards once a week.
I was quite nervous because I haven't had much feedback before.
Now we had dinner tonight and she said she'd been in a little crisis because of all the exhausting stuff she's had to read the last few weeks.
I signaled empathic understanding.
Then she went on to say that my novel helped her out of this crisis and she was able to read the first twenty pages without getting bored. (She even read a lot of the rest and wanted me to give her the rest of the pages I'd written since)
So although she thought it's a little bit strange - insectoid demon - and hard to put into any genre, she wants to make a contract with me and work for me!
She told many pleasant things about my writing and says it has potential and she wants to try and sell it the Frankfurt Book Fair.
So what do you make of it?
On the one side I think it's great that someone else beside myself likes the stuff but on the other hand I haven't got much experience.
I've only published academic philosophical writings before.
Shall I make the contract? Are there any things I should consider?

August 26th, 2005, 12:47 AM
Congratulations! That's wonderful!

I think you should be prepared for the contract. Do some research on what your rights are, and so forth. Most of us try for years (and decades) to get an agent interested in our work. It took me five years from the completion of one of my novels to get an agent to read it. You're in a great position! Best wishes for your future book sales.

Monty Mike
August 26th, 2005, 08:29 AM
Well I'm in no position to give you advice on what to do, but Congratulations!! :D :D

August 26th, 2005, 08:58 AM
First of all, congratulations on another step along your journey. Unfortunately, I do not have agent/novel specific contract experience, but here some general comments.

1) Whatever you do, when presented with the contract, DO NOT SIGN RIGHT THERE. Take at least one night to look at it. Hire a lawyer to look at it, if you can afford one. This novel is something you've put your guts into. Don't sign it away rashly.

2) Look it over carefully. What does the contract say you have to give up? What are the fees? Does the contract say anything about the agent's responsiblities? If not, why not?

3) Be wary if there is a provision in the contract that you don't like, and the agent fluffs it off with "don't worry, we don't enforce that" or something of the sort. If its not to be enforced, then politely ask that it be removed from the contract.

Just keep your eyes open and your wits about you (and lots of other cliches).

Good luck!


August 26th, 2005, 06:58 PM
She's a legitimate agent who will be trying to sell your work, probably as a literary comic work, at the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is terrific. She's not going to screw you over and signing a contract with her should not be signing any rights away to your work. It's an employment contract which says that she will be representing you as your agent and the terms by which that relationship will operate. It will be a short, probably standard contract.

That doesn't mean that you should not read it very carefully and ask questions about anything in it that you don't understand. Of particular import to authors -- what expenses the agent expects to be reimbursed for and how, the term of length of the contract, how the relationship can be terminated if things are unsatisfactory and the contract automatically renewed if the relationship is satisfactory, having a clause that allows for mediation of any disputes between you. It does not hurt to have a lawyer look at such a contract, but it should be a lawyer who is well-versed in literary property law and knows about agents, not one who hasn't a clue.

There also should be nothing in the contract that allows the agent to make financial decisions for you, such as whether to accept or refuse an offer. The agent should consult with and advise you about any offer made and get your verbal consent before accepting or rejecting an offer. In the whirl of the Frankfurt fair, this can get difficult to do, so make sure the contract is clear on that point and that you communicate to the agent that you must be consulted.

And have fun -- a lot of deals are made or set up at Frankfurt, so hopefully it will appeal.

August 27th, 2005, 02:48 AM
Congratulations. :D - like Monty i'm in no position to giv advice but congrats on the next step.

~ Tari

August 27th, 2005, 06:04 AM
Way to go! Plus, KatG seems to know what the hell she is talking about, which is nice.

August 27th, 2005, 06:21 AM
Way to go! Plus, KatG seems to know what the hell she is talking about, which is nice.

She does.....

Well done and good luck.......

August 28th, 2005, 04:51 PM
Thanks for your feedback and encouragement!
Like Kat said, I got the impression that the contract is most likely a short standard form.
But as I don't know much about this field, I will try to get everything explained in detail before I sign it.
She said she wants to try and sell it as it is, as there's enough to get an impression but there's still some work to be done, as it is only a manuscript.
So I've to go over it again, which I wanted to do anyway.
I'm very motivated but a little bit anxious too. I've been writing for myself mostly but now I'm somehow committed.
Although she said I should just carry on writing as before and she wouldn't want to influence me, it's like, you know, someone looking over your shoulder while you're writing.
I'm a little bit sensitive to it. Last year I gave part of my story to a friend of mine who's a story board writer just to have a look at it.
He had very strong opinions how I should progress and what I should cut out.
So I ended up having writers' block for a few months.
Anyway I'm really very glad but on the other hand a little bit nervous.
As my husband said, he couldn't understand why I wasn't just enjoying myself.
Not trusting my luck maybe?:)