Monday, April 13, 2009

"I have a contract in hand, why won't agents talk to me?"

Pure and simple.

All publishing deals are not created equal. A contract in hand from a reputable publisher who will do a fine job on a book, and keep it in print for years may still not be lucrative enough to be a good risk for an agent.

It takes just as much time and energy (actually MORE) to do a $5000 deal as it does a $50,000 deal.

And most agents want more $500,000 deals, not more $5000 deals.

If you find yourself in this position there are two things to know:

1. You don't have to have an agent to be successfully published.

2. You MUST have someone who knows publishing contracts review your offer and advise you on what changes need to be made. If you need the name of a contract review specialist, email me and I'll give you one.

I've had to say no to some really wonderful projects simply because there wasn't enough money in them. That stinks, but reality is often odiferous in the extreme.


Nadia said...

It takes just as much time and energy (actually MORE) to do a $5000 deal as it does a $50,000 deal.

Hi Janet,

Do you mind elaborating on what you mean by "actually MORE" time and energy to do a $5k deal than a $50k deal?

Thanks. :)

Tara Maya said...

What a timely post. I was just wondering if an offer from a small press would make a difference if I mentioned it in my query letter. Sounds like -- not really. Although I presume it would have to be mentioned in the interests of full disclosure.

Tana said...

What are your thoughts on small presses that offer little to no advances?

Maria said...


Could you expand on this topic? I know a couple of authors that had offer in hand and couldn't find representation. I assumed it was because of the very small advance. Understanding that the offer in hand may not be much, why wouldn't an agent believe the author would be able to get better offers in the future, similar to growing any author you take under your wing?

Is it because that author is likely to stay with the small publisher for several years (say that a series is planned)and earn very small amounts of money? Or is it because so few books are sold that author then has a record of small sales numbers? Other reasons?

I'm sure it's complicated, but a few examples would shed quite a bit of light on the subject!

J.R. Johansson said...

Very interesting post, and it really makes sense. Also, good questions in the comments above.