Small contracts

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.


Feisty said...

Miss Snark:

How would one find you if they had a contract in hand? I have yet to find any inkling of information as to who you are. Am I just dumb, or did I miss something?


Feisty said...

Never mind, I'm just dumb.


Bernita said...

There, there, Feisty, it's alright.
Read back and you'll see most of us have said something dumb here sometime or t'other.

Feisty said...

Oh, thank you, Bernita. I feel so much better now. I will go dunk my head in a vat of pig blood.

Sarabande said...

Thank you for this. I wish I knew who you were (duh... like everyone else) because I'm in this exact situation. I'm in the middle of having to do this myself, with a list of a lawyer's recommendations.

And I never, ever, EVER want to have to negotiate a contract or seek out an entertainment lawyer again.


Agents rock because they can do this stuff with both hands tied behind their backs. Me, I've been losing sleep over this and it's only just begun.

Thanks for your daily updates to the blog... from one of your faithful, grateful nitwits :)