I am a freelance editor and ghostwriter. As part of my service, I help my clients pitch their books to literary agents.
One client just asked me a question—and I admit I don't know the answer. I was hoping you could advise me.
Is it possible for my client to hire an agent to work on his behalf? In effect, could my client offer to pay an agent an upfront amount of money—say $20,000.
The understanding would be that the agent would make a good-faith effort to represent my client for six months—and if a publishing and/or movie deal were achieved, then the agent would make the usual percentage on royalties.
If no deal were achieved, then the agent retains the upfront amount for his effort.
I know we live in a changing world, so although I initially thought this was not a viable idea—I do wonder if agents today would be willing to be hired to represent a writer.
After I got over my initial reaction (insulted rage***) I started to actually think about this.
I'm 100% sure you can find an agent to do this.
That said, why would you want an agent who's willing to gouge his/her clients? Even if it's voluntary?
And what does spending all that extra money get them?
Well, now you get to the heart of the matter: that kind of "retainer" implies the client gets more than usual service. They come first among the pack. They get first dibs on my time.
And that's why you'll never get me to agree to this: you can't buy a position in line. You absolutely can not buy my time or my favor. You get it for free, but you can't buy it.
That said, I'm sure you'll find some takers. They're probably not the agents you want though.
***the insulted rage was at the "good faith effort" as though you might need to pay upfront to get that. I'm hoping my clients believe they are getting my BEST efforts on their behalf without paying me a dime till the book actually sells.