Many aspiring book writers yearn to get a literary agent for representation. Literary agents have become valuable to getting books published. The first step could determine if you can make it or break it.

Before signing an agreement, you may wonder what things you need to consider. Many literary agents may not be legitimate. You should evaluate terms and contents stated in the condition the agency offers you.

1. Duration

The term or duration of your agency agreement is a critical factor. The range of terms varies from thirty days to the whole duration of your work's copyright.

Most authors don't want to be bound to an idle agent for a long time; on the other hand, literary agents are reluctant to sign short-term contracts with book authors. The best arrangement is one that allows any party to use a 30-day termination provision. This serves as a trial period to determine if your professional author-agent relationship can work.

If you have already signed a long-term deal, make sure you retain the right to terminate your agreement if your agent has not helped you sell your book within a certain period of time.

2. Scope

Most agreements grant the literary agent rights to represent your work internationally, in all types of media, and in all formats. All of your existing works during the contract period is covered.

This agreement may not always work for you, so consider negotiating your agent's control to specific projects, especially when you are starting out. If things go smoothly with your agent, you can always adjust and broaden his or her scope of control.

You may want to use a different literary agent to handle subsidiaries like film, audio, and foreign deals. This may be applicable if you feel your agent lacks expertise in a specific market.

3. Commission

Usually, this part of the agreement is non-negotiable. Most agents charge a fifteen percent (15%) commission from your royalties. You can expect an additional five to ten percent (5-10%) for international distribution, as your agent may need to compensate his sub-agents in foreign countries. You should expect to pay as much as a twenty-five percent (25%) fee for a foreign sale.

There are exceptions: if you discover a foreign publisher
and you want your agent to negotiate the deal for you. In this case, some agents may lower their usual commission.

4. Disbursements

Since the literary agent will receive royalties and advances from the publisher, make sure your contract includes an agreement that requires your agent to deposit all funds on your behalf into a separate and private account instead of your agent's account. Make sure your contract grants you to receive your regular payment within 10 business days.

5. Expenses and Accounting

Negotiate with your agent as much as possible, especially if you incur any excessive and unusual expenses. Such expenses should not exceed a specific amount without your permission and should not be taken directly from your pocket, but should be deducted from future royalties instead. If your agency agreement absorbs most client expenses as a part of their commission, then this would be a better deal.

Make sure your agent is willing to provide an accounting report along with other IRS documents at least once a year. You need to ensure that cash flow from your royalties is going to all the right places and your agency is not scamming you.

6. Powers and Assignment

Beware of agreements that give your agent different powers that originally only you should have. Such powers may include signing checks and contracts on your behalf. Your contract should also not be transferred to a publisher or agent without your permission.

If you granted your literary agent with too much power, then you should negotiate to decrease them, especially if you have not yet earned trust with your agent.

7. Bankruptcy, Disability, And Death

Check if your contract includes the clause that all your royalties may be transferred directly to you, in the event of bankruptcy, disability or death to your agent. The prevents your royalties from being tied in court due to events that your agency may have experienced.

A literary agent's job is to help you voice your concerns between you and the book publisher. Always review your agency's contract to determine if you have the right representation that supports your best interests.

Some literary agents may scam you with your creative abilities. These people make themselves rich at your expense; the only way they could do this is if you allow them to do so. Be smart in signing any contracts and stay true to upholding the value of your intellectual property.