Thayer Literary Services ~ Book Editing

Questions to ask a literary agent

The following is a suggested list of topics for authors to discuss with literary agents who have offered to represent them. Please bear in mind that most agents are NOT going to be willing to spend the time answering these questions unless they have already read your material and wish to represent you.


Are you a member of the Association of Authors' Representatives?


How long have you been in business as an agent?


Do you have specialists at your agency who handle movie and television rights? Foreign rights?


Do you have subagents or corresponding agents in Hollywood and overseas?


Who in your agency will actually be handling my work? Will the other staff members be familiar with my work and the status of my business at your agency? Will you oversee or at least keep me apprised of the work that your agency is doing on my behalf?


Do you issue an agent-author agreement? May I review the language of the agency clause that appears in contracts you negotiate for your clients?


How do you keep your clients informed of your activities on their behalf?


Do you consult with your clients on any and all offers?


What are your commission rates? What are your procedures and time-frames for processing and disbursing client funds? Do you keep different bank accounts separating author funds from agency revenue? What are your policies about charging clients for expenses incurred by your agency?


When you issue 1099 tax forms at the end of each year, do you also furnish clients upon request with a detailed account of their financial activity, such as gross income, commissions and other deductions, and net income, for the past year?


In the event of your death or disability, what provisions exist for my continued representation?


If we should part company, what is your policy about handling any unsold subsidiary rights in my work?


                                                               — Source: Association of Authors' Representatives (AAR)





• Do you talk to your authors all throughout the process?


• Can I call you for help if I have a problem?


• How many publishers would you go to with my book?


• What if it doesn't sell right away?




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