Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Query question: commission structure

I checked your blog to see if you had already answered this question, but I didn't see it there. I was wondering about the rationale for the difference between agent commissions for domestic vs foreign licensing or sales. I've typically seen 15% domestic, 20% foreign. That's standard, yes?

I'm sure there's a perfectly rational reason (or even a few reasons) for that difference. I'm just curious to know what it is. I'm not in the agenting biz, so what might be obvious to an agent, isn't obvious to me. I'm not even sure if I've used the correct terminology here, but I know you're smart and very likely to get what I'm asking.

Related to that, as a writer in the USA, it would seem I'd put myself at somewhat of a financial disadvantage by querying agencies abroad (I've queried some in the UK and Canada), though a couple did have associates or partner agents in the states. I'm curious about how the presence or absence of some kind of partner agent in the US might help or hurt me in the long run with regard to a foreign agency's commission. Do they have US partners in order to get around this issue, and encourage foreign writers to approach them?

Yes, that's standard: 15% domestic, 20% foreign. Here's how that works: when I sell your ms to a US publisher, I get 15% commission. THEN, when I trot your manuscript out overseas, my co-agent in CloudCukooLand gets 10% and I get 10% (total 20%) on the deal.

If I sell your manuscript to a UK publisher first, and directly, (ie not using a UK co-agent) I take 15%. Subsequent sales in around the world for translation deals are 10% me, 10% co-agent.

It's the presence of the co-agent that bumps the commission to 20%.

If you query agents in the UK you'll still pay 15% (I believe that's the standard there as well) on deals that don't rquire a co-agent. Most UK agents who sell in the US market do so directly.


LynnRodz said...

Good question, good answer. I come here every single day and I learn something new almost every time I come. Thanks again, Janet, for your wonderful blog and the time you spend helping us.

B. DuBois said...

Thanks for this very clear and thorough explanation. I had thought having a co-agent would be an advantage within the USA/UK markets, but I see I was mistaken. This is very helpful.

Michael Seese said...

I agree with LynnRodz. I think the best way to sum of Janet's service is to say...


Gingermollymarilyn said...

Thank you, Sharkie. Chomp! Have you been training some of the World Cup soccer players, specifically on the Uruguayian team?