To Answer Your Question

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Mar 22 2010

No, I will not consider representing you for an up-front payment in lieu of or in addition to a commission.

BookEnds abides by the AAR Canon of Ethics. We abide by the Canon not because we feel like we need to be a part of AAR, but because we feel it’s the right way to do business. Agents should be paid on commission. There are too many writers desperate to be published, writers who will do almost anything, and pay almost anything, to see their books in print to have agents work any other way. And frankly, many of these writers have books that are unpublishable. Agents need to be paid on commission to protect the writer.

There are enough scam agents out there. Let’s not make it easier for them by offering ourselves up.

. . . and yes, this post is based on actual questions/requests I’ve received in queries.


18 responses to “To Answer Your Question”

  1. Wow, offered a bribe? Cool.


    The author who offered a bribe would be better off to put that money in the bank and spend, instead of money, time! Time studying the market, time reading, time, especially, writing. There is no substitute for learning by doing.

    • Avatar Robert R Simpson says:

      Hello my name is Robert Simpson i wrote a children’s book and im looking for an agent i don’t know what to do or to look for can you please help me

      • You’ve come to the right place. This blog is the first place to start when it comes to learning where to start. I also suggest you find a writers group (locally or online). Feel free to check out places like or organizations like Mystery Writers of America. Good luck!

  2. Avatar Anonymous says:

    yeah well I had two agents in a row aggressively offer to hook me up with editorial services. Don't tell me they weren't getting kickbacks

  3. Avatar Anonymous says:


    There are blogs and lists online to help us lookout for a few bad agents out there. Maybe those agents fall into that group? Have you checked?

  4. Anonymous 8:10… that's the point Jessica was making! She refused the money, where some others *might* take it… if they were shysters. It's as unethical as the 'kickbacks' scheme you speak of, and you should run from an agent that makes that kind of 'aggressive' offer.

  5. Avatar Kate Douglas says:

    I remember way back when I was first beginning to write fiction–wondering about paying that 15% commission. This was long before I'd even reached the point of needing an agent. Someone said to me, "85% of something is a hell of a lot better than 100% of nothing."

    Boy, were they ever right. And I still, on occasion, send chocolate.

  6. Avatar Shain Brown says:

    I’m continually appalled by the actions of a select few, or those who will do anything to be in print. At some point the idea has to dawn on them that hard work will supersede any half baked idea.

  7. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Donna Lea, both of those were legit agents… On the other hand, I'm glad the good ones are good. Oft times I curse my current agent, but I always have to first say that whatever his sins, he did sell my book in three days for six figs…

    Rot in hell, but comfortably….

  8. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I have an interesting,very hypothetical question. What if a writer on her own gets offered a contract from a small or university press with little or no advance? And what if that writer wants to protect her rights by having an agent look over the contract? Would an agent then agree to taking a small fee from the writer (if the writer wasn't offered an advance)? Would an agent then also agree to represent that writer with any foreign/film/subsidiary rights? Thanks for your time.

  9. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Isn't that what SELF-PUBLISHING is for? Maybe you can point them in that direction if they're so desperate–yikes! Nothing wrong with passing around a few books to friends and family, as long as they know the diff between vanity presses and tradit'l publishing.

  10. Maybe it was a test to see if you were legit. And you passed.

  11. Enjoying your blog, love your honesty 🙂

  12. Avatar _*rachel*_ says:

    I sense that somebody needs to read Miss Snark's archives… all of them… and Preditors & Editors… and Writer Beware… and the AAR guidelines….

    Anon 12:32–there are contract lawyers for that sort of thing, if I'm not mistaken.

  13. Avatar Jeannie says:

    Rachel beat me to it. 🙂

    If you're willing to pay a fee, get a contract lawyer.

  14. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Rachel & Jeannie: yes,there are contract lawyers, but my question was whether or not an agent would be willing to take on a client after she received an offer with little or no advance from a small or university press? Could an arrangement ever be worked out in this type of situation?
    Anon 12:32

  15. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Anon 12:32 and 1:47: Been there, having published with a small press that was later acquired by a university press. Your best bet is to use a contract lawyer who can keep for you as many of the subsidiary rights as possible. If your small press/university press book turns out to be a big seller, you might be able to get an agent at that point to market the subsidiary rights. Or you write something else that's both great and marketable, and you get an agent then.