So back to that age-old question again, and an experience I had last week that provides the response.
I received a call from a man who had already sold his book to a publisher (he had not submitted it to multiple publishers, and so really had no idea what it was worth) for a modest sum and had located and “hired” a movie agent through the internet. He had found an attorney (I am not sure how) who had “reviewed” his contract for him.
When he called me, he wasn’t sure why–he had just been told by his editor and publisher that he should have an agent.
I agreed that I would be interested in helping him, and he instructed his attorney to send me a copy of the contract and to talk with the movie agent to tell him that I would be on board.
But then I looked at the contract and I was stunned. There was a huge problem on the very first page; knowing that we didn’t have a signed agency agreement, I didn’t read further but I am absolutely certain that there are other major problems in that contract that will lead to problems down the road.
Ultimately, this writer told me that he had decided not to use an agent, after all. He thought there was no need as the publishing contract was already signed. I wished him well, but thought to myself that he had made a very big mistake at the beginning and hoped that he doesn’t rue the day he made this decision and that the movie agent is successful in helping the book become a film.
Vetting contracts, of course, is not all we agents do. And, as you’ve gathered from our posts on this blog, the sale of a book is just the beginning of our work with our clients. But, this is a good example of why it’s important to have an agent in your corner.
I am curious what you think about this experience and look forward to hearing.