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If you’re a writer, or have writing as an item on your bucket list, may I give you some unsolicited advice?

Forget about getting an agent. 

You’ll thank me for that advice.

There’s some brouhaha lately about a famous agency admitting that an employee absconded with $3.4 million of their clients’ money. Y’all, that means authors. Authors weren’t paid for their books. They got zilch.

What shocked me about the story wasn’t that the agency stole the money. It’s that the authors didn’t start bitching, moaning, and complaining when they didn’t get their royalties. Or that they didn’t have the sense God gave a gnat in the first place and demand separate accounting.

An agent demands 15% of your hard earned money, even if they do diddly squat. They act as if they’re doing you a favor representing you when you’re paying them. I fired my last agent five years or so ago and I’ve never looked back, but when I had them I demanded separate accounting.

Here’s what I mean.

You’re a writer. You get an agent. Let’s say the agent gets you a book deal. One book for $50,000, which means $25,000 on signing and $25,000 on acceptance of the manuscript. You sign the contract which stipulates that your agent gets 15% while you get 85%. The publisher sends $25,000 to the agency. They hold onto it as long as they want, then finally cut you a check for your 85%.

In separate accounting, the publisher sends 85% to the author and 15% to the agency. The agency doesn’t get their little mitts on your money. You KNOW where it is at all times.

Why these big name authors – who have now been cheated out of $3.4 million – didn’t insist on separate accounting is a mystery to me. Because of it, they’ll never be able to recoup their money. THEIR money.

Trust me, you’re so much better off doing your own negotiating. Hire an intellectual property attorney to look over the contract. You will save yourself years of grief. And money.