Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Paying Agents?

As I write this, there is a passionate discussion taking place on twitter under the hashtag of #agentpay. Colleen Lindsay brought up the topic of what would it be like if, instead of working off of commission, agents billed writers by the hour.

I won't lie. This hypothetical proposal scares me, not because I don't think agents would be worth what they would pull in, but because many of us would not be able to pay them for all those hours.

How many writers would have to venture out into the world of slush without agents because they couldn't afford the billable rates?

Those of you with agents and those of you without, comment and share how the "what if" would play into your decision to seek representation.


  1. I don't have an agent, but I wish I did! If they charged by the hour, I don't think I could afford it. Also, I like the idea of your agent as your ally; the partnership aspect seems really crucial, both working together toward the same goal and both equally invested in that. Curious to hear what others say!

  2. I agree. It seems like it would change the dynamics of an author/agent relationship if the writer were paying by the hour. Writers would be less patient with the time the process takes, for one thing.

  3. I don't really see how that could work. Then agents would be able to take on whichever writers had the money to pay them and that means editors could not rely on them to be "gatekeepers".

  4. If someone is getting paid by the hour, it better be me. :)

    Seriously, if they get paid by the hour to find a home for my manuscript, shouldn't I get paid by the hour for all the hours I poured into it?

  5. It seems as if agents will also be in trouble - if writers can't afford them, then how are they going to earn money?

  6. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Here's a great post from Mary Kole (Associate Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency) with her take on agent pay.