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.
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!