Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Joint projects

I have a joint project with another author. The project is represented by the other author's agent, and I'm querying elsewhere for the rest of my work. In the query forms (which seem to be the norm these days) it asks whether I'm represented or have been represented by another agent. Do I check yes or no, and/or mention the situation in my initial query?

You check no.
You yourself do not have an agent (more on that to come.)

You DO mention that a project you worked on is being shopped by Agent X of Flex, Hex and Vex Literary Represtidigitation.

Now to the more.

Please tell me you have a collaboration agreement in place with The Other Author.
If you do not, please get on in place immediately.

The agent may say s/he represents the project, but when a publisher offers a contract, the project doesn't sign on the dotted line. You do. That means you need advice and guidance from someone who is Team YOU not Team Other Author.

Your interests are aligned but not identical. 

This is even more true if you are NOT going to be part of the contract, if you're being treated as a contributor NOT a partner.

A lot of agents will brush off your concerns with "we've done this a lot and it always works out."

All I can say is: you have a contract to protect you for when things DON'T work out.

You don't want to find out anything the hard way.

Get a collaboration agreement, or a participation agreement in place NOW.


KMK said...

Wise advice as always. A good reminder of why writers go through the horror of the query trenches: you get a professional on your side watching out for your work. That's WORTH a couple of years of your life and a few bloody chunks of your soul. Thank you!

Mister Furkles said...

This famously occurred in a collaboration between the famous mathematician Richard Courant and another less well known mathematician when together they produced an English language version of a Calculus textbook. When the publishers copies were sent to the other mathematician, his name did not appear on the cover or anywhere within the text. He had to threaten to sue the publisher and Courant to have it corrected. Also, I don't know but suspect he would not have received equal royalties if any.

Get it in hardcopy writing. This is good advice for any job situation where you are promised something for work not normally your responsibility.

C. Dan Castro said...

Thanks Janet. Is there a recommended boilerplate agreement on the internet?

Kregger said...

And this happens in other businesses.

I'm currently selling my business. I'm interviewing prospective young people to step into my shoes. One story I heard was about a guy, working for an old codger like myself. They had an agreement that they should have put in writing on the future sale of their business. 3-5 years later the old codger is ready to retire and wants an increase above the agreed-upon sale price.

Cover your assets, get it in writing. That young person is now searching for a new opportunity after 3-5 years working on a dead-end street.

Mister Furkles said...

"A verbal agreements is not worth the paper it's written on." -Sir Bryan O'Loghlen, 1890.

Note, here 'verbal' means by word of mouth.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Good advice. Nice to see a new post here. Will keep this in mind should such a situation arise.

Beth Carpenter said...

Good advice. If nothing else, the agreement gets everyone on the same page as to expectations and avoids hard feelings.

AJ Blythe said...

I've seen quite a few author friendships fall apart because of collaborations based on the friendship and not paper with the agreement. Good luck, OP, with both your joint project and your time in the trenches with your own work.

Great to see everyone in the Reef *waving*.

Paul said...

If there's one thing I remember from my Contracts class. It's that if it isn't in writing, it didn't happen.

It's amazing how many problems arise once money enters the picture.

Craig F said...

I find me arguing with myself over the direction of twists and several other plot points. It is not hard to see a collaboration fall apart. Put it in writing.

April Mack said...

Didn't the authors of The Shack run into this problem because they went into it with only a verbal agreement? I seem to recall hearing about them suing each other after the book found success.

Mister Furkles said...

What Paul says also applies to marriage. Before getting married, the bride and groom must have an unpleasant discussion of income and budget. Divorces have occurred because of tensions over spending money and not following a budget.