Monday, July 6, 2009

What's In an Agent's Contract - Part 2

Today I'm highlighting conflict resolution in an Agent-Author contract.

Can I be honest here?

I love having these clauses in the contract. It provides a fair direction should any disagreements arise. Of course, no one intends to have conflict in an agent-author relationship.

Still, it's good to have a plan.

This is how my contract reads:

"Any controversy or claim arising out of or in connection with this Agreement shall be settled by arbitration by a single arbitrator in the City of New York in accordance with the Commercial Rules of the American Arbitration Association. Any award rendered by such arbitration may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof."


"Neither party shall be deemed to be in breach of this Agreement unless the party asserting the breach has notified the other in writing of such alleged breach and such breach has not be cured within thirty (30) days after receipt of such notice."

Isn't that good stuff? I mean, once you've read it seven times so you can actually understand it (not that I had to do that, but, er, you know...)

Questions: Can you just imagine us moody-writerly-types getting all worked up over something and not even telling the agent we have an issue. I'll be you a million bucks that's happened a time or two.
What do you think about the arbitration clause? Would you want to work under a written contract like this, or is a verbal one good enough for you? Do you even care?


Janna Qualman said...

I think that looks ideal. And yep, I've known to pull a moody move like that before. My husband would attest to it. ;)

Davin Malasarn said...

I think I'd want something in writing. It just feels more certain to me. Is there any sort of time commitment or anything built into the contract? Like, does the agent say they'll try for a year before they give up, or do you have to stay with the agent for a fixed period of time?

Tess said...

Janna - lol, it's the same part of our brain that makes us so artistic, right ;)

Davin - excellent question and that will be the focus of my part 3 next time. In short, the answer is : yes. Details to come...

Jill Kemerer said...

I like things in writing. I like contracts. Why? I interpret something one way and the other person interprets it in a way I didn't expect. Written agreements take the guesswork out.

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

I think a written contract is the best way to go for both parties. Also, if the day ever comes when I get an agent I want to have that signing my name on the contract moment.

Jody Hedlund said...

Thanks for sharing this! I still don't have a contract, so you're giving me a heads up on what I have to look forward to!

And your last post was incredibly hilarious! LOVED it! Sorry I somehow missed seeing it before today!

Joyce Wolfley said...

I've heard good and bad things about arbitration. Good because it costs much less than going to court. Bad because big companies usually win...I wouldn't classify an agency as a big company.

I would want a written contract over a verbal one any day!

Tess said...

Jill - excellent points, and I agree

Kate - yes! It is a special moment to look forward to.

Jody - glad you got a giggle :D. And, not all agents work under a paper contract. That's ok.

Joyce - yes, that is true as well. But, I actually worked as an insurance arbitrator for a few years and found the process to be mostly objective. In any case, I like a plan laid out ahead of time. good points.

PJ Hoover said...

They say lack of communication is the number one problem in agent/author relationships. Talk to your agent, right!

L.T. Elliot said...

Having working in an ATTY's office for a long time, I am a HUGE fan of arbitration. Mediation of any sort is almost ALWAYS a good idea!!

Crystal said...

Sorry I'm late getting to this--and thanks Tess for posting this--but yes, I'm all for a written contract. Gotta have it in black and white, just makes it seem more "official," especially the experience of signing your name . . .

Great post, Tess!