Thieving thieves who thieve

Edittorrent (via PV) has a disturbing post on a bad new agency practice (she starts out thinking it might just be a rumor because it sounds so bad, but no, it's real). Some agencies are asking authors to sign away 15% on revenue earned by books the agency doesn't sell to a publisher. If you sign this sort of contract, and the agent fails to sell the book, and then you self-publish (completely on your own), you owe the agent 15% of what you make, even though they failed to provide any service of value.

An agent is an agent, guys. You don't pay random real-estate agents fees for houses you bought without their help. You don't pay headhunters fees for jobs you got without their help. You shouldn't have to pay literary agents fees for revenue you have earned without their help. "We only make money if you make money" does not mean "if you make money entirely by your own devices, with zero assistance from us," OK?

The recent changes in publishing have not be easy on agents, and as a result, sleazy contracts are becoming more common. Watch out and take care.