FAQ About Working With NEPA
What do you charge in the way of commission and fees?
Like most agents, we collect a basic 15% commission on any project we sell domestically. Commissions on foreign rights, rights, and dramatic rights are 20% since generally we have to pay subagents to complete these sales. Â We do NOT charge reading fees of any kind. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, clients WILL be asked to reimburse NEPA for incidental expenses related to the sale of a project. Â Here is the fine print of what clients are charged:
1. Photocopying manuscripts and proposals when necessary at $.08 per page
2. Overseas shipments to foreign publishers and co-agents
3. Courier charges above and beyond standard USPS and UPS service
4. Bank charges on foreign check clearance and the like
5. Copies of your books purchased from the publisher when needed to market translation and other sub-rights
6. Other exceptional third-party costs with prior approval of client
What does NEPA do for its commission?
We aggressively try to place your book with a reputable and appropriate publisher. The biggest advantage agents have over writers in marketing a book is that agents are in contact with hundreds of editors and scores of publishing houses. We know who is buying what. We also know how much give there is in their contract terms and have a sense of how far to push them. Once we have an offer and you have accepted it, we will negotiate the best contract terms obtainable from that publisher for your book. Â Here are some of the other services we provide:
- We may spend a reasonable amount of time giving you editorial advice to help you perfect your proposal or manuscript.
- We chase publishers to pay you what they owe you promptly.
- We have a professional bookkeeper examine all royalty statements for accuracy and challenge apparent inaccuracies.
- We will inform you about the process of publishing so you will understand how to best partner with your publisher.
- We work with you and your editor throughout the production, marketing and sales phases.
- Either directly, or via coAgents, we solicite subsidiary rights sales that are not contracted to the publisher.
- We mediate disputes between our clients and their publishers.
- We report to you on all submissions of your project.
What shouldnâ€™t I expect you to do for me?
First, we canâ€™t make a publisher buy your book nor can we force it to market your book effectively, although we certainly will press them to do so. Here are a few other things we canâ€™t do: (a) lend you money against future income, (b) rewrite your manuscript or edit it before you submit it to the publisher; (c) act as publicists for your book, and (d) we cannot give your legal or finanical advice.Â
What do we know about publishing law?
It is important to understand that a publishing agreement is a legal document. Â Agents understand publishing law, but most literary agents are not lawyers. Â Agents negotiate deal points with publishers; we may recommend some language in agreements on your behalf. We can advise you about your agreement from a business, but not a legal, perspective. Publishing law is similar to contract law, but there are many nuances about publisher's agreements that are unfamiliar to most lawyers that are unfamiliar to publishing. If you do not have a lawyer that is familiar with publishing law, we recommend that you join the Author's Guild and take advantage of their legal services.Â We are always happy, and in fact, encourage you, to have your attorney call us with your questions.Â
Do I have to sign a written representation agreement?
Yes. We ask that you read and sign ourÂ Agency Agreement. We believe a written agreement, spelling out the terms of representation is in your interest, as well as ours. It avoids any misunderstandings down the road.
Do I have to sign the agreement before you will consider my work?
Not at all. Weâ€™re more than willing to make a preliminary decision whether or not we would like to represent you before signing the agreement. We may even offer some advice in advance. However, we cannot spend a great deal of time editing your proposal until we have a signed agreement.
How soon will I hear from you after submitting a proposal?
Well, that always depends on our work load, but we make every effort to respond within 3-4 weeks if not sooner. If you havenâ€™t heard from us within that time frame, please let us know.
What are my chances of being taken on as a client?Â
Letâ€™s put it this way: every year we receive thousands of queries and submissions from prospective new clients. And every year, we take on, maybe, a half dozen new clients. You can improve your chances by sending us a proposal thatâ€™s complete, well-thought out, answers all the obvious questions, and is free of typos and spelling errors.
How many clients does NEPA currently represent?
We try to limit our client base to no more than 36 "active" clients, by which we mean those for whom we have sold a book within the past 5-6 years. We canâ€™t provide good service for more than that number.
Can I submit my book proposal to more than one agent at a time?
Since agents submit to more than one publisher at a time, it wouldnâ€™t be fair to complain if you submit to more than one agent. In fact, you should never submit to just one agent, then sit around waiting for one agent to get back to you unless you make it VERY clear that you are submitting to that one agent "exclusively". Bear in mind, unless you are already a client, weâ€™re not prepared to give a lot of advice about your project, or tutelage about publishing. (For that, you may want to try our "Resources" page). If you do send it to us in an exclusive basis, you may get a faster response, but be prepared for the response to be "no thanks" because the chances of your hitting us on exactly the right day when we are looking for your project are pretty slim. That is just a reality of day to day operations.Â
Once Iâ€™ve signed the agreement can I submit my book to editors on my own?
ABSOLUTELY NOT! For as long as the agreement is in effect, NEPA will be your exclusive agent. This generally applies to all your book-length works. Here are three good reasons why: (1) Many book contracts have option clauses giving the publisher the right for a first look at your next book proposal; (2) You might submit a proposal to the same publishers weâ€™re submitting to or visa versa, which would embarrass the editor, you and us; (3) Agents represent clients, not single works. Occasionally we will make a very specific exception to this rule. For example, we might give an academic author the right to represent his or her own textbook proposal since we donâ€™t handle textbooks. If you have any doubts about this, ask us first.
What if Iâ€™ve already submitted my book to a few publishers?
Thatâ€™s okay as long as you tell us up front where it was submitted and what the outcome was. Once youâ€™ve signed the agreement, however, we have the right to negotiate the contract and take our commission even if you made the original submission.
Can I terminate the agency agreement?
The agreement is for a minimum term of six months. You can terminate our agreement with 60 days notice prior to the end of any six-month term. However, unless we are in the midst of selling a project for a client, thereâ€™s no reason for us to enforce the notice period and we donâ€™t. NEPA, like most agencies, retains its right to a commission on all income produced by any book it has sold for the life of properties we have sold, even if the author is no longer a client. The terms of how we earn our commission are outlined by your publishing agreement that we negotiate on your behalf, and the standards within publishing law.Â
Can I submit a proposal by eMail?
Yes. Please go click on the "Submissions" tab to see how to submit your query.
Will you read my novel?
We will read your query. If we like what we read, we may move forward and ask you to send your novel. We will keep reading until we decide we don't want to read more, or represent your work. Fiction is SOOOOO subjective. Â Â So, you might have just written the next giant bestseller, but we simply may not like the style, or the narrative, or the dialogue, or the story, or (more likely), we may not think of an editor to whom we might send your work...or...we may just be cranky when we read. Our loss. But we are in business, so is we ask for it...we will read your novel.
How do I know if the NEPA is the right agency for me?
The most important questions to ask yourself about any agency are: Does it represent books similar to mine? Whatâ€™s the agencyâ€™s sales track record? Do I feel comfortable with the feedback I get from the agency? Does the agency adhere to high ethical standards? Do its business practices and contacts seem professional? Do I get along with the people at the agency? Does the chemistry seem right? Does the agency give me prompt and courteous service?
If the NEPA is not the right agency for my work, can you recommend another?
There are several excellent sources of information about agents. First, try the Association of Authorsâ€™ Representatives (AAR) web site. There youâ€™ll find a listing of all member agents. Membership in the AAR requires that an agent or agency sell a certain minimum number of titles and acceptance of the AARâ€™s Canon of Ethics. Of course, there are many fine and ethical agents who are not members. Also, you can find more information about agents on the "Resources" page.Â