Hi from novelist Gail Gaymer Martin at www.gailmartin.com
When I have a friend who writes a good article, I ask permission to share it on my Writing Fiction Right blog at www.writingright-martin.blogspot.com. But I don't like to keep great advice away from those who do not subscribe to my blog so this article is meant for all of you.
Many of you are considering or seeking agents, and Jim Watson's article is excellent to help you make wise decisions. Jim comes from Christian publishing experience, but these tips are good for secular work as well. Each of the questions he proposes will safeguard you in making a wise decision about obtaining an agent. So take a look at my friend, Jim Watkin's, excellent advice on seeking an agent.
SEVEN QUESTIONS TO ASK A PROSPECTIVE AGENT
James N. Watkins
Finding an agent is difficult. Finding a GOOD agent is even harder. In the general market, legitimate agents are members of the Association of Author’s Representatives. However, in the Christian market, there is no such accrediting agency. Unfortunately, this has led to several cases of unethical and incompetent behavior in Christian agenting.
So, it's important to get the answers to these questions—in writing—before signing with an agent:
1. DO YOU HAVE EXPERIENCE IN PUBLISHING AS A PUBLISHED AUTHOR, EDITOR, OR SOME OTHER PUBLISHING-RELATED RESPONSIBILITY? HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AN AGENT?
You want someone who knows the business. And equally important, someone who is KNOWN in the business. Their Web site should include those qualifications.
2. DO YOU CHARGE ANY FEES OTHER THAN A PERCENTAGE OF SALES?
Agents used to charge incidental fees for postage and overnight deliveries, but with virtually all transaction made online, these are obsolete charges. If the agent charges reading or editing fees of ANY kind, do NOT consider them. A legitimate agent receives compensation only from a percentage of their client's sales.
3. DO YOU SUBSCRIBE TO BEST FINANCIAL PRACTICES?
Do you maintain accurate financial accounts for clients so there is no commingling of clients' and agent's funds? Do you deposit funds received on behalf of clients promptly upon receipt and pay authors within ten days of receipt? Are books open for client's or his/her representative to examine at any time? If there is any hesitancy, do not consider them.
4. DO YOU RECOMMEND REJECTED CLIENTS TO SPECIFIC EDITING SERVICES OR SELF-PUBLISHING VENUES?
The correct answer is NO. Many agents are simply fronts for these kinds of services.
5. DO YOU HAVE ANY OUTSTANDING OR UNRESOLVED COMPLAINTS WITH THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU OR OTHER CONSUMER RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS?
6. HAVE MANY BOOKS DID YOU CONTRACT WITH PUBLISHERS DURING THE LAST TWELVE MONTHS? WITH WHAT PUBLISHERS?
Their Web site should include this information.
7. WILL YOU PROVIDE A LIST OF CLIENTS? MAY I CONTACT THEM FOR A RECOMMENDATION?
Again, if there is any hesitancy, RUN!
Of course, a smooth scammer will tell you anything you want to hear. So, make sure you check them out thoroughly with:
The Better Business Bureau
Preditors & Editors (An online watchdog group)
Writer Beware (Another watchdog)
Anyone you know in the publishing world: editors, authors
Like schemes in so-called "Christian" self-publishing. See tp://www.jameswatkins.com/selfpublishing.htm There are plenty of posers and piranhas in "Christian" agenting, so writer beware!
(c) James N. Watkins from his writers' resource page at www.jameswatkins.com/writing