Asking for a friend... suppose he has an options clause with a publisher, and his agent has shown them the new manuscript. The publisher really likes it. No offer has been set yet, and no negotiations have been made at this point. Publisher says the agent and the author will hear back in a few months.Yes. The agent did the deal for the book and the option book. The commission stays with them.
Since then, the friend has noticed some red flags about their agent, and would really rather this deal NOT be brokered by the agency. Unfortunately, since the agent was the one who subbed the MS, if the publisher accepts, that agent would get the 15% commission, plus whatever sub rights they keep, right? Is there a legal way to withdraw this and not have the agency be involved?
Also, is it better for him to just take this book deal, even with a bad agent "signing it off"? I.e., a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush type of thing?
That is, absent a new agreement that the agent forgo this commission and let the deal go.
That happens sometimes, particularly if the client is turning out to be more trouble than they are worth. Red flags happen on this end too.
And worse, those rights extend past this submission.
Friend needs to check his contract because MY contract says if you sever your relationship with me and sell the book anyplace I had it on sub, I get my commission. There is a time period attached but it's not five minutes.
Without knowing any further details it sounds like something went off the rails here.
Often that can be solved by direct communication:
"You're not responding to my emails. I can't work like that."
"I haven't seen a royalty statement in a year and you keep brushing me off."
The bottom line is Friend is going to have to talk to his agent. Either to negotiate a release of rights, or to deal with the problem. Don't pussyfoot around in this conversation either. If you have to, write down what you want to say and revise it so it sounds brutal and harsh. Often difficult conversations are hard to have cause everyone is being so damn indirect you don't know what's bothering them.
That's one benefit of being rude and abrasive (a description I now fully embrace but was hell on wheels when I was 22). No one is unclear about what I'm saying.