This TVWriter™ minion found the following information invaluable, which means it’s the kind of thing this site simply must pass along:
Know your rights as an author
by Nathan Bransford
Be careful out there.
While the Internet has been an incredible boon to authors, there are also lots of scammers who prey on authors’ dreams.
Protecting yourself starts with knowing your rights as an author. Here are some key things to know.
Literary agents get paid only when you get paid
It should not cost you anything to have your work read by an agent.
Reputable agents work on commission, meaning they take 15% of an author’s advance or royalties in exchange for their services (this is 20% for overseas rights where it’s split with a subagent).
Agents can recoup reasonable expenses from an author, like photocoyping submissions and postage, but there should not be reading fees or anything else charged to you. Especially things you didn’t know about in advance.
A good agent should adhere to the AAR’s canon of ethics
The Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) is an organization that vets its membership and ensures that all of its agents adhere to a canon of ethics.
Not all reputable agents are members of the AAR, but if you are approaching a member of the AAR (which you can determine on their database) you should have a reasonably good sense that they are reputable.
But really, ANY good and reputable agent should adhere to these standards. Here’s an abridged version of the AAR’s canon of ethics:
- Agents are loyal to their clients’ business, avoid conflict of interests, and never deceive or defraud their clients, other agents, the general public, or anyone else they do business with.
- Agents are responsible and secure with their clients’ funds. Payments must be made on time. Books of account must be open.
- Agents may pass along charges, such as photocopies and purchase of books used for sales of other rights.
- Agents keep their client apprised of matters entrusted to the agent and provides information that the client requests.
- Agents cannot represent the buyer and seller in a transaction.
- Agents may not receive a secret profit, and may not receive a referral fee.
- Agents keep their clients’ financial information confidential.
- Agents may not charge clients or potential clients reading fees….