Third installment in this new series. This series will be made up of short, sometimes very short questions and puzzlements about publishing.
Since the previous column in this series, I’ve gotten a few private comments and a couple of Twitter comments about how I am once again attacking agents. I find that amazing, since I am not attacking agents. I am not. Period.
I am attacking their stupid clients who let them get away with this stuff.
I am attacking writers.
Read my previous post again in this series. It is aimed at trying to get writers to act like business people, to stop being just flat stupid when it comes to hiring agents. I am not attacking agents. I had three good agents over my years. But I sure HATE how stupid writers have become with dealings with agents.
So if you are a writer and think I am attacking agents, you might want to stop and look inward. Are you trusting a real stranger with all your money? Do you really, really know anything about your agent? Have you been to their home, know their finances, since they are handling all of yours? Is their agency a corporation? An LLC. Just a DBA?
Where are their offices? How expensive?
And the most critical question of them all… How is your money handled?
Have you, as the person who hired them, asked your agent that very basic question?
Does your money go into a special trust account as required by fiduciary and agency law? Your money must be segregated and accounted for in this trust account. It can be mingled with other writer’s money in the fiduciary trust account, but the agent can not take his or her rent out of that account.
So ask your agent the basic question if you have not already:
Is my money put into a fiduciary trust account that is segregated from agency general funds and accounted for?
When your check is written out of the fiduciary trust account, the agent should also write himself a check for his 15% at the same time to the agency general fund where rent is paid. If an agent is paying their rent and expenses out of the same account your money goes into, RUN!!!
Again, I am not attacking agents. I am trying to get writers to ask simple, logical, business questions of the person they hired. Just to make sure that the person, the agent, they have handling their money is at least following basic agency law.
I don’t care if any writer works with an agent, although during this time of change I think it is silly. But it is your career. Just be smart when you hire them, or get smart now and ask your agent a few basic questions.
By the way, when I hired an attorney lately for my friend’s estate, I gave him a retainer. That money went into a special fiduciary account and I get a balance statement on that account on the 1st of every month as I should under law. The attorney is my agent for the estate proceedings. He is handling the money correctly.
Do you even know how your agent handles your money??
Time to ask don’t you think?????