Dear Miss Snark
You mentioned on your "That's SOME book!" blog post that "All this should be in your contract. It's not? I guess I'll add that to my list of reasons I think people should have agents even for small press contracts with zero money."
As you may recall, I recently asked you some contract negotiation questions. This was in regards to a small press contract with zero money. I would have *loved* to have a Miss Snark, or even an agent who is only one-zillionth as bootielicious as Miss Snark, negotiate that contract for me. But would any agent other than a fee-charging scammer have touched such a contract that was an author's first sale? Is a small press contract even worth mentioning in queries to agents?
I would be delighted if you were to address this issue on your blog, as I've seen it mentioned many times in various writing groups. The vicious circle in which one needs a sale to get an agent, but needs an agent to get a sale, is enough to make a hamster-writer feel that he's stuck on a never-ending exercise wheel.
First, anyone who writes to me and says "I have a contract in hand and I need an agent" gets a call back that day. Many times I've not taken the author on, but I've looked at the contract and given a few pointers. It's the very least I can do - sort of like banking some good will to make up for some of my other less savory activities.
However, you can always find an attorney versed in intellectual property to give you some advice. You need to be VERY clear that you just want a review, not a negotiation. You also want to sent some limits on time so you don't end up with a bill that's bigger than your mortgage.
You can also get a LOT of good legal advice about clauses that should be in book contracts from Kirsch's Guide to the Book Contract.