In a perfect world, every literary agent would be a fearless negotiator, working tirelessly to get the best possible book deals for his or her clients. Kristin Nelson, president of Nelson Literary Agency, has written extensively on how agents negotiate a publishing deal. According to her article “Negotiation Tactics of Good Agents,”which is well worth a read for any author involved with or considering traditional publication, not only do good agents negotiate the size of the advance, they also:
* Only grant rights that are commensurate with the advance level being offered.
* Only sell World English or World rights if the subrights splits are standard.
* Don’t sell the publisher world translation rights or audio without reversion clauses.
* Only sell rights or do deals with publishing houses that offer standard royalties.
* Pre-negotiate “tricky” contract clauses in the deal memo stage.
But the world isn’t perfect. And sometimes an author’s career goes off the rails because their agent doesn’t have the knowledge, skills, or tenacity necessary to negotiate well on the author’s behalf.