Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, June 1, 2007

Your Rights as an Author

It's been a slow week in publishing news-wise (BEA this weekend! I'm still waiting for my bagel!), so, inspired by Maya Reynolds' recent post, I thought I would pre-empt This Week in Publishing for a very important public service announcement: Your eggs are on drugs. Or your brain is an egg. Or something. What was that ad again?

Actually, this week's public service announcement has to do with your rights as an author. I get lots and lots of questions about whether this or that agent is a scam artist, and whether someone should pay their agent $500 to read their manuscript (my answer: um, no). It's amazing how much confusion is out there, so let me do my little part to put this one to bed.

The Association of Authors' Representatives (AAR) is sort of like a gang for agents, only instead of wearing matching colors people dress in ill-fitting clothes (I kid -- people in publishing have great fashion sense... compared to a 3 year old playing dress-up). The AAR has a canon of ethics that its members follow, and you should really take some time to familiarize yourself with it so you know your rights.

Here 'tis.

Learn it. Know it. Live it.

Or, if you're the type of person who is into that whole brevity thing, here's the abridged version:

1. 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.

2. Agents are responsible and secure with their clients' funds. Payments must be made on time. Books of account must be open.

3. Agents may pass along charges, such as photocopies and purchase of books used for sales of other rights.

4. Agents keep their client apprised of matters entrusted to the agent and provides information that the client requests.

5. Agents cannot represent the buyer and seller in a transaction.

6. Agents may not receive a secret profit, and may not receive a referral fee.

7. Agents keep their clients' financial information confidential.

The last one is the most important for aspiring authors, so I'm going to bold it:

8. Agents may not charge clients or potential clients reading fees.

There you have it. Those are your rights (in addition to your right to remain silent). If you are looking for an agent who follows these rules, consult the AAR's online database of agents.

Have a great weekend!


Kim Stagliano said...

If I see you at BEA I am going to kiss you. You've been warned....

(And I happened to post a photo on my blog today, so you'll see me coming. How fast can you run?)


Nathan Bransford said...

Sorry, Kim! I'm not attending this year. Don't accost any look-alikes!!

Stephen Parrish said...

I was going to ask for a kiss, but now I've thought better of it.

Laurel Amberdine said...

No way, the agents I've seen were conspicuosly well-dressed! I can spot an agent from across the room at a convention.

Admittedly... that's at a science fiction convention. Hee.

Don said...

As I recall the commercial went something like:

This is an egg. This is a frying pan. This is an egg in a frying pan. Any questions?

reality said...

Hi Nathan,
And what if an agent breaches the code.

Maya Reynolds said...

Hey, Nathan: I just noticed you added me to your "List of Writers Who Blog." I'm greatly honored since yours is the first blog I check every morning. Thanks!

Warm regards,


adam said...

I'll call you El Naterino...since I'm I'm not into the whole brevity thing.


Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, the commercial showed a video shot of an egg in a hand and said "This is your brain", cut to a shot of a sizzling frying pan and said, "This is drugs". The commercial then cut to the egg being cracked open and plopped into the frying pan and said "This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?"


Jenny Jill said...

Nice job - we writers need guidance. I have begun hearing horror stories. This is good information for us. I lost $8400 , but learned a wise lesson.

Voscarian Child said...

Hi Nathan

I have a question as a writer yet to be published. Do you have to have an agent in your own country or can you use agents in US etc? I am rapidly running out of agents in this country who will take on my work which is frustrating as I write sci-fi and can find no fault with the work, having given it to various other people who have found no fault with it.

No agent will give me feedback or suggestions as to why its not what they are looking for.

Sudam said...

Though i have bookmarked this blog, i am returning to this now only in right earnest. Very informative post written succinct style. i was looking for such a resources. Nathan Thanks for the blog. Keep it up.


Wendy said...

The more I research getting a book published the more I think I shall never have a published book just because of all the negative things I'm hearing and reading.

Where are the words of encouragement to drive the imaginative mind forward and not backward?

Writing is like the air I breathe I cannot stop doing either.

russ said...

Great series of blog posts. I'm starting to see why the query I submitted to my critique group was put through the shredder. FYI, the two links to AAR documents are coming up as unfound.


Nathan Bransford said...

Thanks, Russ.

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