Contracts from agents and lack thereof

Dear Miss Snark,

a few months ago, I sent a query to an agent and last week I received an email saying he wants to work with me. We exchanged several emails about his editorial suggestions (all good) and talked on the phone, but he didn't mention a contract. Is it customary to sign a contract with an agent as one does with a publisher? If so, how should I inquire about it?

Ask "do you offer a written contract".
Many agents don't. Good ones too.
The agency clause in a publishing contract will spell out some of the details when the work is sold.

I prefer working with a written contract but it's not a red flag if agents don't offer them.
You want to make sure you ask about stuff up front though: commission rates; corporate structure (LLC or sole proprietor); termination requirements etc.

A memo of understanding (like a deal memo) you send to an agent is also a good idea if they don't offer a contract.


Remodeling Repartee said...

Miss Snark,

I don't doubt your word (it is the word of Snark afterall) that some reputable agents do not use contracts. Can you tell us why they choose to operate this way?

Lazy? Patrician?

I mean, said agents would not do their deals with the publishing house without a contract, no?

Surely Miss Snark is not one of these anachronisms.

Pit Beagle said...

I hate to ask such an ignorant question, but why should a writer care if the agents company is an LLC or under sole proprietorship?