Oh by the way, Miss Snark will now handle the details

I couldn't get an agent so I finished my non-fiction book and just got a yes from a trade/academic press. Should I now look for an agent or will this upset the publishing company? What's the protocol when you submit without an agent and get accepted?

Publishers don't think agents eat small children for breakfast. Mostly.
They actually champion literary agents for a variety of reasons (mostly self serving ones, but better than being considered scum on the pond of life).

It's very much ok to involve an agent at this stage.

The thing is you're going to have to get your skates on. You don't have a gazillion years to consider the offer. This is when you EMAIL agents with the subject line: "I have an offer and I need an agent".

Academic houses are notorious for buying every right they can get their claws on without any way to exploit it. Can you say: audio, foreign and film rights.

At the very very least, you MUST have the contract offer reviewed by someone who understands the arcane argot of the publishing contract. An agent is fine, a lawyer too.


Dave Kuzminski said...

Please, do not contact just any ol' agent. Do an hour's worth of Internet research to see if there are any significant problems with that agent. There are some agents who are clueless or just outright scams who will agree to represent you and then give away your rights because they don't know what they're doing. There are forums and resource sites on the Internet that list many of the bad and clueless agents to avoid. Use them.

BorderMoon said...

This seems a good place to mention one important thing about Print On Demand technology -- which is that if a publisher is also doing POD (RH's interest in Xlibris comes to mind), it can play hob with the reversion of rights. When does a book go OP, if the publisher can print up one or two on demand? Perhaps contracts now need to specify that a book is OP if fewer than X number of copies are being sold in a specified time period?

Ain't the 21st century just the bee's knees so far?

Kelly Gardiner said...

I was in the same position, but had an agent in mind, so I phoned her straight away (of course, she wishes I'd called her earlier, but there you go). The publisher didn't mind in the least - I guess while it's likely to be a harder bargaining process, at least they are dealing with someone who understands the fine print.
I can't recommend strongly enough having an agent carry out the negotiation for one simple reason - Writers (OK, me) are so pathetically grateful for being published the first time, we'll sign anything.
Also, it's a complicated business: all those boring percentages and sub rights. You need someone on your side who knows the publisher/editor and know the rules.
And congratulations!

Luckywriter said...

I'm convinced -- after a year of rejections I probably would sign anything just to get the book on the market. I'm still smiling from the publisher's yes. Thanks.