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Literary Agent Contract – Guide to Book Agents

Literary agent contract Literary agent contract clauses aren’t that complicated… if you have someone to explain them to you. So that’s what I’m going to do in this article.

Now you might not see every literary agent contract clause below in your literary agent contract. And you might see some additional clauses in your literary agent agreement (there is no standard literary agent contract). However, the literary agent contract clauses you see below will prevent you from having too many surprises.

This article is part of an 8-part series called Hiring a Literary Agent to Represent You. If you don’t already have one or more literary agencies offering representation, and you want to change that, click here to read my Get a Publishing Agent Guide.

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Literary Agent Contract Clauses

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1 – Literary Agent Contract Clause

Parties Involved

The parties involved clause in a book agent contract identifies the literary agency and the author. Some literary agencies use this section to include other identifying information about the author such as mailing address, phone number, social security number or tax ID number, email address, and website/blog address. This section might also include the date of the agreement.

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2 – Literary Agent Contract Clause


The clause in a book agent contract lists the book title(s) being represented. It also indicates whether the representation is exclusive, and it details the type of representation that is authorized. For example: book publishing rights, film rights, other rights, etc.

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3 – Literary Agent Contract Clause


This clause reveals the duration of the book agent contract. The term of an agreement can be any time that the author and agency agree on, although most agreements are twelve months.

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4 – Literary Agent Contract Clause


The renewal clause outlines what needs to happen for a the literary agent contract to be renewed beyond the term described above. Some agreements include auto-renewal while others require a new agreement or addendum be drafted.

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5 – Literary Agent Contract Clause


The termination clause in a book agent contract explains what needs to happen for the agreement to be dissolved. Sometimes a literary agent contract might be terminated by mutual agreement. Other times it might be terminated due to a breach of contract or perceived breach of contract by one of the parties. This clause also explains who is entitled to what in the event that the literary agent contract is dissolved.

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6 – Literary Agent Contract Clause


This clause in a book agent contract confirms whether the agreement, and the rights of parties listed in the agreement, are assignable. For example, you might want the money that is due to you to be payable to someone else. And your literary agency will want the right to assign their interest in your literary agent contract to someone else in the event of a literary agency sale, merger, or reorganization.

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7 – Literary Agent Contract Clause


The commission clause in a book agent contract defines the literary agency commission percentages for book sales and all subsidiary sales such as movie rights, etc., that are relevant to the project. This literary agency contract clause will usually include different percentages for sales made independently (usually 15%) and sales made with the help of a sub-agent or co-agent. In that case the percentage is usually 20%, divided evenly between the two agents involved.

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8 – Literary Agent Contract Clause


The payments clause in a book agent contract explains how you will be paid. Author advances and royalties are usually paid directly to the literary agency, who then pays the author within 7-10 business days after receipt and bank clearance, with full accounting provided.

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9 – Literary Agent Contract Clause

Expenses (if applicable)

If your literary agency requires reimbursement of relevant expenses to its representation of your book, you’re literary agency contract will include an expenses clause. Such expenses might include: manuscript/proposal copying costs; necessary overnight deliveries; postage and handling for manuscripts; foreign shipping and communication costs; etc. Such expenses are often limited to a certain amount and subject to the author’s approval, and accompanied by an itemized accounting. Legitimate literary agencies only request reimbursement for expenses from the author out of proceeds from the project, meaning they’ve already sold your book.

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10 – Literary Agent Contract Clause

Governing Law

The governing law clause in a book agent contract identifies the state where the agreement will be binding. This is important because any disputes will have to take place in this state. Most literary agencies list their home state in every literary agency contract.

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11 – Literary Agent Contract Clause

Dispute Resolution

The dispute resolution clause: Author and Agency agree that any and all disputes arising under this Agreement that they are unable to resolve themselves shall be addressed solely and exclusively by engaging the services of a mediator who is mutually agreed upon by the parties. The parties shall share the costs of the mediation equally.

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12 – Literary Agent Contract Clause


A notices clause in a book agent contract simply specifies how any important notices relevant to the agreement must be delivered. For example: by hand, overnight courier service, certified US Mail, return receipt requested, etc.

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13 – Literary Agent Contract Clause


The authority clause in a book agent contract states that the author owns the complete copyright and has complete authority related to the Project. In other words, the author warrants that he or she has obtained all necessary rights and permissions for materials included in the book and will indemnify and hold the Agency harmless on matters related to the project.

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14 – Literary Agent Contract Clause

Entire Agreement

The entire agreement clause in a book agent contract explains that the agreement is the sole agreement between the author and agency, and it supersedes any previous representations, promises or agreements, written or oral. This clause in a literary agency contract also outlines the protocol that must be followed if any amendments or modifications are to be made.

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15 – Literary Agent Contract Clause


The signature section of a literary agency contract is where both the author and agency representative must sign the agreement, indicating that they concur with the terms and conditions of this Agreement.

Now, click here to read the next article in this 8-part series
and see a Sample Literary Agent Contract.

Look at a sample literary agent contract

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