The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Submission agreements

A note from a reader yesterday...


Dear Steve,

I've written you before though you may not recall! :) Well, after a crazed year's worth of commitment to my novel I'm finally ready to take the agent plunge--but find myself drowning in my own sea of research.

I'm concerned as the agent I have targeted works for XXX, which state on their website that queries from unpublished authors will be disregarded if failing to sign a submission terms agreement. I've never heard the agent herself indicate this, her guidelines ask simply for synopsis & the first five. She does link to her personal page on the site, though. Hmm.

This "terms agreement" states "I understand that XXX has access to materials and ideas that may be similar to my Material in theme, idea, plot or format. I understand that I will not be entitled to compensation because of the use of any such similar or identical material if such material is created independently by XXX or its clients."

So, should I sign or not? My worry is likely unwarranted, but just to be sure!

Might you have any recommendations for me yourself? My work is a lyric teen fairytale fantasy with a commercial vibe. If you have any reliable, generative suggestions God bless you!


Well, that submission agreement sounds reasonable--they're trying to protect themselves. However, I ALWAYS recommend that new writers start with short stories, for a variety of reasons. Until you've published, and been PAID, for at least five short stories, you aren't ready to tackle a novel. And yes, whatever reasons you have for not doing so, I've heard 'em before!


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