Ruth Slavid talks architecture

Having an agent helps – freelance post 13

Posted in Uncategorized by ruthslavid on January 26, 2013

I had an agent before I became freelance, because I had been asked to write books, and a good friend advised that I should have one. Book contracts are complex, and you need to be careful that you don’t unwittingly sign up to something that you shouldn’t have done. And, I was told, an agent could help ‘if something went wrong’. I always imagined that the going wrong would involve things like me delivering late, and was smugly confident that it could not happen.
So far it hasn’t.
But I continued to work with my agent on large projects and it has paid dividends. If you are commissioned to write a feature for a few hundred pounds, and the company cannot or will not pay up, all you have lost is a few hundred pounds. It hasn’t happened to me yet, but I am sure it will.
But longer projects involve more money – even if on a pro rata base they are not all that great. So you have more to lose. Imagine delivering a whole book and then not being paid. I know at least one person that it has happened to.
My adventures have been less dramatic. But one of my first freelance jobs was to help a company write a book. It was in one of the dramatic parts of the recession, and they were in turmoil. My agency negotiated a monthly payment for me. I went to a couple of meetings, but the projected copy for me to edit never materialised. And the person who had commissioned me was made redundant. The project died in the end, but not until I had had six monthly payments – not a fortune but worth having in the first year of freelance. I didn’t feel guilty about them because I had undertaken the work in good faith, and had been pushing for progress. But I wouldn’t have had that money without my agent.
More recently I wrote a book for a company that started having cash flow problems at the time my final invoice was due (final invoice because my agent had negotiated staged payments). If she hadn’t pushed and nagged, I am not sure that the money would have come through.
An agent of course takes a commission. But just think of it as a fee for peace of mind and it becomes far less daunting.

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