Thursday, November 6, 2008

When Is A Commission A Commission?

Here's a good question from an LROD reader: Let's say you have an agent. If you submit stories to contests and lit mags and they get accepted, does your agent get 15% of whatever you earn? Even if your agent wasn't involved in any part of the submission process for these stories? Or do agents only get 15% of what they sell?

In my humble experience, agents have always refused a commission on any publication or deal I worked out myself, including prize money, unless I asked them to review a contract, or perform some other duty.  Then, we negotiated the commission. 

What about the rest of you mice?   Commission on story submission and prize winnings?


original asker said...

Um...Sorry for bringing up such a dead topic yesterday. I think it makes sense what you suggested in your post, that the agent only collect when he helps make a sale. What made me ask in the first place was what if an author and agent are trying to sell a manuscript at the same time.

Let's say the agent is trying to sell it to big houses and the author is submitting it to contests, like the $15000 one. If the author wins the contest, all the agent's work is for nothing. So I was wondering if the agent still gets compensated. Sorry for the naive question. I don't have an agent, I'm just sending out short fiction to journals and contests, so I don't know about this stuff.

rmellis said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe an agent only gets paid by the project. So if she sells your book, she gets part of everything that's related to it, but not for things unrelated, like contests. Some agents will try to sell stories, too, but if they don't, they don't get the commission for them, either. (the $3.25 usually isn't worth the effort!)

I know at ICM the main agent usually gets other sub-agents to sell stories and movie rights.

I don't think you should be trying to sell something the same time your agent is! In any event, you should have a discussion with her about it. If you happen to have a friend who wants to make your movie, for instance, you would channel it through yr agent, even if it was your doing. That's just fair.

Lucy said...

A good, honest agent will not take commission on a sale they did not make. That would cover short story submissions definitely. Now if it's a matter of first serial sales that the agent is in charge of to garner pre-pub media coverage, they will probably take a cut for being involved, and because it's a more substantial payment. But literary magazines? Shouldn't happen.

Steve said...

There appears to have been life here at one time, captain. But from these ruins--I just can't tell when civilization ended. Sometime in the summer of 2008, it would seem.


Writer, Rejected said...

Yeah, yeah. Just sent out second section of my novel to interested editor. Will get back on it.

Steve said...

I kid because I love!!

Writer, Rejected said...

Peace, bro. It's all good.