I now know there is only one question you need to ask a prospective agent:
What can you do for me?
And if the answer is not precise, persuasive and pretty damn exciting, forget it. Keep your 15% (notional if she doesn't find you a publisher). You don't need that agent. In the great upheaval that is going on in publishing today, agents will have to make drastic changes to the way they work in order to stay in business. Some are. Trident Media in New York is signing successful indie authors, a sensible change of approach. Some are turning e-publisher for their clients, with varying success. Others get defensive, expending energy assuring the world how essential they are.
Remember that although you pay an agent to work for you, so she should be on your side, maintaining a good relationship with the publishers she knows is more important to her than any individual contract. She makes her money from the advance, so a poor royalty rate will not affect her as it will you. And she is unlikely to want to rock the boat on your behalf.
|Illustration by LittleBluePaws on Deviant Art|
I love this quote from Tom Simon, commenting on Passive Guy's blog:
"What was that story I read in Aesop the other day?
There was this wolf, see, and this sheep, who needed to do business with the wolf but knew it was going to be dangerous. So the sheep hired a fox to be her agent.
The fox got 15 percent of the sheep."