When you decide to write a book, you’re probably super excited and full of hopeful ideas. Then, you start writing the book and you realize this is a masochistic hobby that hurts you more than helps you. Then you get closer to finishing the book and you realize you’re almost to the finish line. And then you’re finished with the book! Then you edit the book and think, “Someone might actually buy this!” But how do you get it out there, and how do you make it a best seller on the New York Times list? First, you have to find an agent.
Here’s a list of things you should ask any agents you are considering to represent you:
1. Have you ever represented someone with a story like mine? What was the end result and do you still represent that person?
2. Do you have a specific style of book you like to promote? Does my book match that?
3. What are your rates and terms?
4. Which publishers do you prefer to work with and do you have contacts at those houses that could possibly help us get my book published?
5. How do you do contracts, and when are things renegotiable?
6. What happens if my book is an absolute best selling smash? What are you royalties?
7. What happens if no one takes the book and it flops? What are your fees?
From there, you should get some pretty good insights into the agents you want to work with, and figure out if they have your book and your best interests at heart. After you find the right agent, they’re going to pitch your book to dozens of publishing houses to see if someone will pick it up. Once you find a publisher who accepts your book, it may be an easy acceptance, but be smart and ask the right questions. Here are a few you need to ask to make sure you get the right representation and don’t get screwed.
1. What are your terms for royalties? What percent of total sales do I see?
2. Who owns the rights to characters and story? Can I sell those to you for more money?
3. How do we know this book is going to hit your projected sales mark? What do I have to do to make that happen (i.e. book tours, etc.)?
4. When do we renegotiate terms?
5. What if my book flops? Do I have to give back my advance?
6. What if my book is a total success; do your rates or my percentage change at all after we hit a certain sales mark?
Of course, these are just a few questions to ask. Ask your agent (once you trust him or her) to help you in negotiations with the publisher to make sure you’re getting a fair shake. After that, sit back and enjoy your advance and start working on your next money making novel!