Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The Business Rusch: A Special Post For Writers With Agents

Written By: Kristine Kathryn Rusch - Jun• 14•11

I’m deep into the post for Thursday and realized I don’t have the space for the information I’m going to put here.  So this is a special midweek post for writers with agents.  It’s a follow-up to the “Surviving the Transition” posts.

The Passive Guy, who is a retired attorney, is doing a series of posts on the agency clauses in publishing contracts.  He has two as of this writing.  The first is on the agency clause in general. The second is on the clause that has this wording: “agency coupled with an interest.”

If you have an agent, please read these two posts even if you think you understand the agency clause.  It is my experience that most writers do not understand what they’re signing in their book contracts, and some agents have been misleading writers as to what these clauses mean.  So please read these posts.  And see you Thursday!

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5 Comments

  1. Lilian Darcy says:

    Kris, I take the point you and Dean are making, here and in other blog posts, about the way writers need to function and change in the new publishing universe, but I do question the idea that we jump into these bad deals, refuse to educate ourselves, etc, purely because we’re naive/scared/stupid. For me, the problem is that the kind of brain-work I need to do as a writer is completely different to the kind of brain-work I need to do as a self-publisher/marketer/businesswoman, and it takes major time and energy for me to transition between the two. Writing is not just another item on a To Do list that I can easily slot in between responding to blog comments, mulling over cover designs, etc. Writing is so inward-looking and quiet. The other stuff is outward and loud. And I do think this is a real and important issue for people. How do we balance the business and creative sides of our career now? I can see people signing away their rights as a way of protecting their creativity. It may still be wrong-headed, but it’s not necessarily done for no reason.

    • Kris says:

      Lillian, “I can see people signing away their rights as a way of protecting their creativity….” But, see, that’s short term thinking that ultimately will destroy their earning capabilities and thus their careers and their creativity. Writing isn’t a to-do list for me either. But I have taken the time to learn how the business I work in functions. I don’t assign those tasks to someone else. Is it hard? Of course. But where else in life does someone take care of the hard stuff for us? Nowhere. So why should we expect it in our writing? The publishing industry wants us to be children–taken care of so that we can play–so that they can take advantage of us. And they do. And it’s getting worse.

      So I will not defend writers who allow themselves to be screwed in the name of their creativity. That’s rather insulting to those of us who have actually done the hard work of learning business and conducting ourselves professionally. Are we any less creative? No. Do we “slot our writing in”? No. We work very, very hard to be both creative and to take care of ourselves as professionals.

      Once upon a time–or even now–you had a day job, right? That was “outward and loud.” How did you balance that with your writing? You managed. Writers can manage doing their business work and their creative work. They have done so since writing became a profession. They can do so now.

  2. Lilian Darcy says:

    Oh, I totally agree with you, Kris, had no intention of being insulting. I just wanted to point to what I think is a valid concern – something we all have to address in any new business plan we come up with to deal with the new universe of publishing. We do have to spend more time on the business side than we have in the past. Actually, I never did have a day job, because I was first published right out of college and have made a living as a writer ever since. That living is now under threat for the first time in my career, and believe me I’m addressing the fact. Part of it is totally beyond my control – the relative strength of the Australian dollar – can’t get angry at publishers over that one, although I could perhaps rail at the mining companies.

    • Kris says:

      Oh, good, Lilian. Sorry to be so harsh, but your words in the post echoed what I get in private e-mails. Only those whine: It’s too hard. Writers aren’t capable of handling the business. We need help. Only writers who don’t care about their writing spend time on business. and on and on. So I’m a bit overwhelmed by it all.

      I’m not sure we have to do more work. I always felt like it was a silly game of telephone to get my agent to call my editor to deal with the accounting department to handle my check, which would then go back to my editor who sent it to my agent who sent it to me. I couldn’t monitor each step, much as I wanted to. Now I handle all of that directly with my various publishers and with the e-pub and that cuts down on a ton of work–the kind I hate: nagging! So that helps. I think it’s just different work now.

      Although I will agree that many writers never even did that much and are now going to have to wake up to the fact that what they thought was “hard”–writing–just got harder because they have to handle that pesky business stuff. Ah, well.

  3. Lilian Darcy says:

    Yes, the handling directly and the amount of control are definite pluses.