Friday, June 03, 2016

Funds remit clause


A new agent from a very respectable agency offered me rep last week. Like you suggested, I asked for the author/agency agreement and went through it. There's one thing that you suggest is essential in the agreement but is missing from mine: "Time frame in which the agency must remit funds." I know you said that the author should ask to have this put in, but the head of the agency is a member of AAR, and she also acts as a mentor to the new agent who offered. Should I still be insistent on adding this?
Yes.
AAR membership does not have the same force as a contract. It's good the agent is a member, but it's not the same as having this spelled out in a contract.

Our author/agency agreement specifies we remit funds no later than five days after the funds clear the bank. This is an absolutely normal clause in an agreement.

A contract sets out what to expect (or not) in terms of agency performance. Adding this clause does not mean you think they're going to stiff you, or be lax with your payments. Not at all. It simply sets out that they don't have to remit the check instantly but they also can't sit on it till the end of the month for convenience sake. (Some publishers "run checks" once a month which really plays merry hell with advance payments.)

Asking that this be included in the agreement is not a sign you'll be a troublesome client. Quite the contrary. It's a sign you pay attention to detail.

If the agent pushes back on this, watch for how they say it.  If it's akin to "how dare you" that's a problem.  If it's "our bookkeeper only comes in twice a month" then you simply adjust the time frame.






36 comments:

Jason Magnason said...

I can't wait till I can ask Janet questions like this.

Lucie Witt said...

This morning I found myself thinking of Life Before The Internet. I started writing books after the internet was a regular part of our lives, so I had a world of information at my fingertips. HOW DID WOODLAND CREATURES SURVIVE BEFORE? If you didn't live in a big city or have access to lots of other writers, how in the world did you even know about asking for a timeframe remittance clause in your agency agreement?

Anyways. Great post.

And good morning, everybody.

Scott G said...

Janet, if there's ever a time in my life when I am presented with an author/agency agreement, (if it's not yourself) could I hire you to look it over? There's been so much good information posted on this subject, I would first scour this website in search of all the various points of consideration of which I should be wary, but I'd be so afraid I would miss something. Oh, and if I'm able to hire you to review and provide comments on this proposed author/agency agreement, and you send me a contract to sign in order to engage said services, do you have any suggestions on who I should have look it over on my behalf? Just kidding. I trust you.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Agreed with the others. Great information here. The level of detail in managing a writerly life is mind-boggling.

Deep breath. Just one step at a time for this woodland critter. Time to get back to wrestling those chapters into shape.

Colin Smith said...

Scott G: There's a pdf document in the Treasure Chest that discusses things that should be in an author/agency agreement, all based on advice Janet has given. While we would love to hire Janet to help us with contracts with other agencies, I'm sure she's got enough on her plate dealing with her own clients' contracts. And since they are willing to commit 15% of their writerly income to Janet, I think it's only right and proper her priorities lie with them. The fact she gives us all the help she does is already above and beyond. I feel sorry for writers that haven't discovered this blog yet. Are there any left? :)

Colin Smith said...

Lucie: Like you, I often wonder how writers got on pre-internet. I suspect the rules were a little more lax (see Stephen King on "how to get an agent" in ON WRITING, where, for example, he says you don't even need to have a finished novel!), since there were fewer options other than the traditional publishing model. It's my suspicion that a lot of the "hoops" that exist today are because so many more people are writing and submitting ms. Just think how easy it is to send a 400 page manuscript today (via email) than it was 20 years ago, when most agencies expected you to snail mail it! Hiring a contract lawyer was also probably more a necessity than it is today (even though some would say it's still advisable).

Janet's been round the block a few times in publishing. I truly would be interested to hear her thoughts on this.

Donnaeve said...

First of all - a HUGE BIG FAT CONGRATULATIONS to OP for the offer of representation! Are you hyperventilating over QOTKU's answer?

It's all about the delivery of your request to include the missing piece, not unlike the response you want from Respectable New Agent. :)

Lucie, ah, before the internet...simpler times = simpler rules.

Colin Smith said...

Well aren't I just Mister AshMat, or warpy woo, or something...?

CONGRATULATIONS, Opie!!! :D You actually have an offer of representation, and more than anything, that's a big deal. Sorry for not opening my first comment with that.

Thanks for reminding me to be thoughtful, Donna. :)

Scott G said...

Colin, my post was meant to be dripping with facetiousness, but I guess it didn't come across that way. Thank you for the link, though. As always, I am directed to a part of the blog that has all the information I need to know in one tiny little box. I should learn to dig a little deeper.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Congratulations to OP on offer of rep. And I too can't wait to ask Janet these kinds of questions.

I wonder if I would be cast into Carkoon's Pit of Despair if I queried Janet just because... I mean I am not so different than Gary Colby apart from my dragon obsession. Ah well, back to rewrite.

Lennon Faris said...

Congratulations, OP! I'm glad people ask these questions. I know about the Treasure Chest (thanks Colin!) but I feel like I'll still miss these things.

Lucie - yeah the internet. I am constantly using it to check a spelling on a weird word, or a quick reference for something I'm suddenly unsure I understand. Don't know how people wrote novels in any sort of timely fashion if they went to the library every time for something like that. Same goes for Word Documents. How did people write their manuscript without a computer. Minds much more clear-cut than mine, apparently. I edit and re-edit a thousand times over.

Lennon Faris said...

OK, so this is totally off topic but my husband showed me this shark vid last night and for some reason, I can't stop giggling:

http://imgur.com/gallery/mwjUMaZ

Maybe it shows my morbid sense of humor, but I thought a few here might enjoy it!

Colin Smith said...

Lennon's Sharky Link: http://imgur.com/gallery/mwjUMaZ

Scott: OK, sorry I missed the facetiousness. It's still early for me (before 10am). :)

EM: I, too, like to think I'm not so different from Gary Corby. After all, he's Australian, and a talented writer, and has six published books (with more on the way), and I... um... write stuff. So, see, we're like twins! :D

Can you imagine writing novels on a typewriter, correcting typos with correction fluid (White Out, Tip-ex, the stuff former Monkee Mike Nesmith's mom invented)? I think I would write everything long hand first, where I could write in margins and insert text. I think today is Writer, Count Your Blessings Day! :)

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Congrats on your offer, OP! Maybe the agent left out the clause on remitting funds on purpose to see if you're a reader of this blog - maybe she only wants to represent educated woodland creatures! :)I'm kidding, of course, but good for you on being so careful. Sometimes I worry that I'll be so excited at an offer of representation that I'll completely forget all these helpful posts and sign away my book, my soul, and my firstborn for a chance at getting published.

Jokes on the agent if I never even HAVE a firstborn. Ha!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Colin- at least you have read all the Gary Colby books and write in the same universe that our sharkly Queen swims in. I am only just starting my adventures with Colby. He's coming to the beach with me in 2 weeks in the form of his books which will be added to the formidable beach library.

I fear my delusions will only find me buried under Carkoon. But I must try. After all, Janet is my queen. Like my MC in my fantasy series, I have quite the Don Quixote complex. To dream the impossible dream...

Craig said...

Yes, OP, congratulations on this big step. May you path continue upwards.

I toss money at quite a few associations in an effort to seem cultured but at heart I am still a beast. You can take the beast out of the jungle but you can't take the jungle from the beast.

It is possible that mentoring means writing up new contracts. It is possibly something not stressed and just missed. Usually most of these things are in a contract template that was ironed out by a team of lawyers but you never know. A contract should be a negotiation and not the word of god. I have numerous things that are variable in the contracts I write.Most of that has to do with payment schedules. The one thing that does not change is my right to audit the accounts owed me. Most can understand that you do not mess with the chain of payment.

DLM said...

I don't even see where AAR membership comes into a contract. I mean, if I'm buying a car from someone who seems fishy, the fact they're a Rotary Club member doesn't affect my decision to take business elsewhere. Or if I have a poor job done by a BBB member business with an A+ rating, I don't expect the BBB to make me whole, I expect the contractor to - or civil action.

It may be I am still in need of caffeine. I don't even understand the basis for this question. It's a legal document. Many of those include the "whole and entire" clause explicitly excluding any external variables from being at play in the agreement. What has AAR membership got to do with it?

Colin Smith said...

Diane: Opie is probably thinking that AAR (and I almost typed AARP!) membership provides a level of accountability and expectations that members must meet to maintain that affiliation. Hence, if someone says he is an AAR member, one might assume certain standards. Now, whether those standards include what goes into an Agency contract is a completely different kettle of warpy-woo. (Yes, I like that word.) Like you, I suspect it doesn't since the standard agency contract will be, well, standard to all agents within that agency, regardless of each agent's AAR membership status. I'm sure Janet will set me straight if I'm wrong, but I believe AAR membership provides a basic code of conduct for all member agents, and an accountability structure for reporting agents who violate that code of conduct. Having a payment clause in a contract is not a code of conduct issue. Failing to pay clients IS (I presume) a code of conduct issue.

How many comments is that? More than 3 already? *sigh* and it's not even 10 am yet. Sorry...

Dena Pawling said...


Janet wrote "If the agent pushes back on this, watch for how they say it." I'm sure that also applies to how the writer asks the question. If OP would say "I demand this modification" that is quite a difference from "Can we discuss a modification".

I can certainly understand OP's question though, and the hesitation in asking about a modification. I remember just a few weeks/months ago [time flies as I get older] when Janet wrote in a blog post that her own agency agreement is not negotiable. But would Janet agree to modify her own agency agreement if the request was reasonable [similar to this request]? Or would that be a deal breaker? Or is just the fact of asking the question a deal breaker?

Whatever happens, congrats OP on the offer of rep! And hopefully this situation will resolve for the benefit of all parties.

DLM said...

Dena, as per always, makes a good point!

Colin, after yesterday's Month9 post, though, this is doubly bewildering. I don't care if AAR insists its members sign contracts with THEM in blood, swearing they'll be ethical, rilly rilly we promise - if it's not in Opie's contract, it's not in Opie's contract.

Also, y'all can all thank COLIN for the fact I may start signing all my comments as follows ...
--Fair Maiden Warrior of Words

BJ Muntain said...

Lucie: If you lived in a small town in Canada... you had no clue. Books were something that you ordered, and if you wanted to write... well, you wrote. But you had no idea what to do once you had something to submit. Luckily, I didn't have anything worth submitting until much later. Heck, I didn't even know there was a writer's organization in my province.

In a small city in the 1980s/90s, you found books on writing. You found Writer's Digest and the Writer's Market. And you followed everything you read there and in the local writer's organization's newsletters. At that time, the local writer's organization was mostly 'literary', and certain genres were ignored (as was the American publishing scene). Agents weren't as necessary to get published, but I'm sure there were a lot of authors who got screwed. And you NEVER HEARD ABOUT THAT, because there was no internet and that's not the sort of thing that gets put in Writers' Digest.

EM: Janet always says to query with anything, because you never know if it might hit a spot with her. Chances are, she'll nicely reject you, but nothing says you can't try. And being rejected is not a Carkoonable offense.

Lennon: It's called handwriting. :) Even those that mostly typed their work would then edit it with a pen. And then retype the entire thing. And if you found a typo after that, you simply took your little pen and corrected it there on the hard copy before sending it off.

Celia Reaves said...

OP - congratulations!! We're all envious of your success. (Well, except for those who are already represented, like Donna of the Subheader.)

I agree that how the question is asked, as well as how it is answered, will say a lot about the future success of this relationship. "I'm thrilled that you are interested in my work, there are just a few things we need to hammer out" is very different from "Hey, sleaze-brain, are you trying to stiff me or something?" Anyone who reacts to the first by getting defensive is probably going to overreact to every other minor concern or disagreement. Even if the representation is top-notch, this would be exhausting. We see this in what Janet says about discarding some queries right away if they indicate the writer is too clueless to work with (see this, for instance). In an agent-client relationship, as in a romance, the most delightful partner can be too high-maintenance to be worth it.

Colin Smith said...

Dena: I think it's a matter of approach (again). If you say, "Hey, SharkForBrains--why don't you have THIS clause in the contract? Add it now!!" you will probably find the offer of representation rescinded. However, if you say, "Excuse me, O Mighty and Most Glorious Queen, but I notice the contract is absent a clause about THIS. Can we discuss?" you will probably find a more receptive audience. To your point, though, from what Janet has said, the FinePrint agency contract is pretty much set, so the onus will be on the writer to determine if a particular wording, or the presence/absence of a particular clause is a deal-breaker.

Sorry... commenting again... :-\

Oh, and Diane, the moniker fits you so well. Own it, for that you are. :)

Julie Weathers said...

First off, congratulations! What a rush. You must be on cloud nine. I wish you much success.

Lucie,

As BJ said, there were lots of books written that covered these things. I still have many of them, for God knows what reason. Plus there were annual books that had literary agent listings, still are, which also had sections with commentary about various aspects of getting published. I also subscribed to Writer's Digest magazine. Many libraries had Publishers Weekly.

A person could get information if they wanted it.

I sometimes think the internet is as much a curse as a blessing. It has more false information than true. Look at the subject yesterday. While information is getting out about this outfit, the ease with which they spring up is frightening. The one "editor" who kept harassing me to send him FR had three different companies. He thought I didn't realize it was the same person because he was using different pictures of himself.

The popular theory about JEB Stuart being missing at the beginning of Gettysburg was he was out glory hunting and failed to give Lee proper current information. So it's been portrayed in several books and movies that have been lauded for their meticulous research that had all kinds of access to internet.

However, Col. Mosby in the 1800's knew Stuart was doing what Lee had ordered him to do. He kept digging around in archives until he finally found the order from Lee to Stuart to prove it. Lee had a bad habit of hastily scribbling orders that were sometimes confusing and that's what he had done that time. He had ordered Stuart to go round and then Stuart had been blocked on his return delaying him, but some others didn't understand that's what Stuart had been ordered to do. Thus Stuart got made the scapegoat.

The point is, a man in the 1800's found the evidence clearing Stuart that men with full access to the internet either didn't find or chose to ignore. Where there's a will, there's a way.

I can still find more accurate historical research in libraries, historical societies, and museums than I can on the internet.

Shelby Foote wrote everything longhand. Once he had written for the day, then he typed it out on his typewriter. He said using a pen you dipped in ink and put to paper slowed the brain down so he had to think about each word. He seemed to do all right.

I still write some things longhand. Sometimes if I'm babysitting or waiting somewhere, I always carry a notebook with me. Sometimes if a scene isn't coming easy, I write. The simple act of writing instead of staring at a computer screen seems to jog the brain.

Note quote three, Colin. However, I also like two.

CarenL said...

Lucie Witt, you made me think of what used to happen in the ole days before the internet. We woodland creatures used to have to scurry to the county library (or a big enough library to have a decent sized reference room), pull out the 500-page copy of Literary Market Place, get a hernia dragging it to a big ole table, look at year-old information on which publications and agencies were taking new clients, and then mail our materials in a pretty envelope with a self addressed stamped envelope (to get noticed in the slush pile). Sometimes those publications did have basic info for writers on contracts and such, but not always. (Writers Market was helpful too.) So yeah, it was more challenging to get info, and this blog is a great resource! It's so much fun to read and so far I haven't gotten a single hernia.

Donnaeve said...

Colin, you're excused - only because you are usually the epitome of manners! I might have to call you Mr. Manners. :)

Did ya'll know that literary agents started showing up around the late 1800s? Can't you just imagine what those queries might have looked like?

*I've been vewy vewy quiet about the sub-header, hoping it lingers a while longer. Shhhh.*

BJ Muntain said...

I believe Janet's agency's agreement is non-negotiable simply because it *does* have everything such an agreement is supposed to have. If Janet was involved in its development at all, you can bet it will say exactly what she has said an agreement *should* say. I'm sure you could suggest a change, but if it contains everything it should, then there probably aren't any changes to suggest.

I'm sorry if I'm missing any news - good or bad - lately. My reading comprehension isn't the best right now. I think I need to congratulate O Sleepy One - congrats!

The Sleepy One said...

Thanks, BJ Muntain. I'm still excited, but I'm focused on other projects to keep myself balanced. :)

Miles O'Neal said...

E.M., I do not comprehend the phrase, "dragon obsession". Love of dragons is as natural as eating, drinking, and sex (none of which should involve dragons and humans at the same time).

I think that because being a published author is almost the holy grail (being a rich, wildly successful published author with movies about your books is even closer), we tend to sweat the small stuff too much. If the Usual Reliable Sources (such as the one and only Query Shark) suggest something belongs in a contract, just ask. Ask nicely, as others have noted. If the other party takes offense to your asking nicely for something reasonable, that's a red flag. If they won't budge, that's an even bigger one.

I learned the hard way that not all jobs are worth having, even when you Really Need a Job, Like Right Now. It's the same with any sort of relationship, personal or professional.

Even relationships with dragons. I can think of one I will not have anything to do with under any circumstances, unless it involves his demise. But he's an unrepentant murderer. Hopefully your potential agent isn't.

Eric Steinberg said...

These types of questions and the answers kindly provided by Ms. Reid and other agents as to what types of clauses should or shouldn't be in literary agency contacts made me wonder something. Something I hope will someday be more than an academic questions.

How common or uncommon is it for a writer to have an attorney review a literary agency contract prior to signing? Thanks!

John Davis Frain said...

Donna:

Subheader? What subheader? No need to change what doesn't exist. Carry on.

Joseph Snoe said...

I handwrite, then type. I'm such a slow and incompetent typist it takes me six or seven hours to type what it took me an hour to write.

My tendency is to type in the morning (and into the afternoon) what I wrote the day before. I have to type soon after writing because my handwritten pages are unreadable - mainly they jar my memory.

I'm still typing a few paragraphs from yesterday.

My typing is slowed a lot, too, because my cat Brigada (the Miracle Kitten) demands to be held and petted when she hears the keyboard clicking.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Congratulations, OP! I hope it all goes well for you :)
And thank you, Janet, for yet another illuminating post. You truly are the QOTKU and we all love you for it!

OT: Here on the 'Sunshine Coast' we've had three days straight of rain, and now an 'extreme weather event' has just hit. The storm raging outside has just intensified to ridiculous proportions, but fortunately I'm warm, dry, fed, and my loved ones are all accounted for. And seeing as we're pretty much house-bound, it looks like perfect weather for continuing with some editing. In front of our fireplace, of course :)
Happy writing, everyone!

AJ Blythe said...

Kae, you must be just around the corner from my folks (Buddina)! And you've so kindly sent the weather south o_0

OP, congratulations on the offer!

Kae Ridwyn said...

Hi AJ - yes, I'm just a little south of Caloundra.
And yes, this weather's pretty intense! :)

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

"If the agent pushes back on this, watch for how they say it."

This is what I took away from this. How an agent communicates is very important.

Contracts are adjustable and negotiable, unless otherwise established they're not. As a big part of an agent's job is to negotiate contracts, I'd be very surprised if a good agent wasn't open to negotiating their agency contract, or at least explaining why they'd like to keep their phrasing the way it is.