Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Welcome To Our Guest Natasha Kern Literary Agent

Natasha Kern
Five Ways An Agent
can Save Your Career

Co-authored by Literary Agents:
Natasha Kern and Athena Kern
The Natasha Kern Literary Agency, Inc.
 Today we are celebrating Natasha's visit to Seekerville with giveaways from all of Natasha's Seeker Clients, including:
 
2 $25 gift cards to your choice of Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Books Missy Tippens—A House Full of Hope
Julie Lessman—Two copies of A Light in the Window
Myra Johnson—will give away both A Horseman’s Heart and A Horseman’s Gift.
Ruthy Logan Herne—Yuletide Hearts, Mended Hearts, Small-Town Hearts, Reunited Hearts, A Family to Cherish and His Mistletoe Family.
Mary Connealy—two copies of Candlelight Christmas by Mary Connealy and Linda Goodnight.
Glynna Kaye—2 winners their choice of one of my books



Five Ways An Agent can Save Your Career



First, and most important:  HAPPY BIRTHDAY SEEKERVILLE!!!!   I am looking back at all you have accomplished individually and as a group over these years.  Not only moving from unpubbed island to becoming a published author as well as publishing so many books in these years, but setting an example of how sisterhood can work and the many ways you have helped one another to succeed.  In addition, you have created a writers’ community where anyone can visit to become better informed about the craft of writing, about publishing, connecting with agents and editors, and the joys of writing stories that uplift readers. A wonderful thing indeed to celebrate {Applause}.


Athena Kern


There are many ways an agent can save a writer’s career and perhaps her sanity.  Athena Kern is now an Associate Agent at the Natasha Kern Literary Agency, and she and Natasha are going to focus today on five of the most important ways serious challenges that writers commonly face can be prevented from becoming long-term problems.




Publishing contracts can contain career killer terms that are hard to recognize and ameliorate without the guidance of a competent agent.  It isn’t just that writers are naïve and think “these problems will never happen to me.”  It is more that they have no idea of the potential problems to watch out for and then are shocked when something that can be a career killer does happen.  The following problems are not uncommon and have happened to my clients: A) Publisher goes bankrupt and won’t revert book rights back to the Author. B) The book is sold, but the publisher doesn't publish it. C) Contract is terminated and publisher drops the Author. D) Book royalties are not paid or statements are inaccurate, requiring an audit or legal action. E) Legal action threatened by publisher because an author unwittingly violates her option clause F) Author is accused of plagiarism or another writer does plagiarize a work and the Author is embroiled in legal problems. G) The Author’s editor leaves and the house no longer wants that genre. Finding yourself in these situations can be scary and reinforces why it's imperative for writers to have a good agent for help and protection.


An agent can sign a new client and then have to deal with getting that writer out of previous problematic contract terms, in addition to negotiating contracts for long-term clients. We are going to identify five things (of many) that agents do to help a writer to have a successful career.


1.      Negotiate your contract. Obviously, this is what agents do... isn’t it? Well, some “agents” do not do it. Many writers don’t realize that publishers have boilerplate contracts that no one should sign. Not ever. Because they only benefit the publisher in all possible ways. Agencies have different contracts with every house that have been negotiated and re-worked over time by the agents to provide maximum benefits to the author. Athena and I were recently discussing a contract from another agency that had NOT been negotiated and contained terms we wouldn't accept and, in fact, would never even see from that publisher.  Un-agented authors or those with “agents” who do not negotiate properly, receive radically different contracts from the beginning. Publishers are smart and their attorneys work for them, not the writer.


2.      Manage your career. From developing proposals to getting a sale to publication and marketing or PR plans, your agent should be involved in the entire process.  For example, it is commonly thought that writers who are self-publishing don’t need an agent. But, e-books and self-published books need to be coordinated with print publishers to prevent conflicts and to earn maximum income. Are you confident in deciding when to write for the house or on your own with so many publishers now offering contracts for e-books and novellas? NKLA has published e-books for clients’ backlist titles and also client books their print publishers had passed on.  Natasha had written to e-publishers and reviewed their contracts. But the terms were unacceptable, primarily because of royalties or control of rights or even cover consultation. So she decided to do it herself which resulted in some wonderful ebooks, like this fall: Julie Lessman’s A Light in the Window, Margaret Brownley’s Head Over Heels,  Robin Lee Hatcher’s Speak to Me of Love, Mary Connealy and Linda Goodnight’s A Candlelight Christmas, and Kelly Long’s Hart’s Truth. It can certainly affect a writer’s career and income if the right to self-publish is retained, including negotiating the option clause and non-compete clause so it gives the writer the most income streams possible. Managing all rights that can be retained or which the agent can place via subagents is an important aspect of agenting. An Author can ask an agent for a list of their subagents worldwide, who they work with in Hollywood and whether a co-agent has been assigned to them.


3.      Plan for the termination of rights.  Fact: the publisher can own your rights for 35 years until they terminate under federal copyright law if there are no other provisions in the contract. What a powerful affect on your career! Boilerplates often lack any recourse if the publisher fails to publish.  They may not provide for reversion if there are no sales or if the publisher goes bankrupt. A line or genre can be dropped or shifts in the market may occur and the author’s contract is terminated by the publisher. What happens if you cannot complete a contracted book? Under what circumstances can you, the author, terminate your contract? 


4.      Have a career growth and development plan.  We send a questionnaire to each new client requesting information that helps us to develop a plan.  Discuss with your agent how many books you can write each year and your long-term goals.  This, of course, varies greatly because of full-time jobs, family obligations, how much research is required for each book, and so on. Other things to consider are:  Writing in multiple genres or for several publishers; for the general market or CBA houses; combining mainstream and genre fiction or even nonfiction books.  Should you use a pseudonym or not?  Most of NKLA clients are doing these things, and it can take some careful strategizing to work out these career options. Consider the level of income you need to continue to write and make sure your agent understands your situation.  Create a career plan and then review it periodically, at least once each year to adjust to changes in your life or your writing goals. 


5.      Sticking by the author. When calamities happen which could include personal or family illness or having no publisher for a period of time or having terrible sales figures for a variety of reasons, let alone the MAJOR crises mentioned at the beginning of this blog, the agent can and should be a rock to depend upon.  All too often, agents drop writers who are not doing well or making them enough money. Natasha was once told by a publisher that other agents would have dropped her client when a major problem came up—instead she collected $100,000 for her client for the termination of her contract. Every career has ups and downs, sometimes dramatic ones. A hiatus in a writing career may not be avoidable.  Extensions of due dates may be needed. What happens if a book doesn’t work and the publisher rejects it?  Does your contract allow the publisher to hire someone else to write your book and bill you for the cost, putting your name on a book you have not written?  Are you free to sell that book to another house? It is harsh enough when tragedy strikes without then receiving a shocking bill and a rewritten book you don’t even like and don’t want to publicize to your readers. It is the agent’s responsibility to have alternate plans for your career if the original one is not working out for whatever reason.  You should have the clear sense that the agent is working for you and being paid by you to look out for you in every way.  The agent should provide advice about individual proposals and works, have submissions and sales plans, and be on your side especially if any dispute arises with your publisher. An agent should be familiar with working with author estates and how to plan for situations like divorce or death. The agent should have a corporate attorney who is available to provide support when truly serious situations arise.


Audra, Cara, Debby, Janet, Julie, Natasha, Mary


Writing is a challenging career.  Creating wonderful books is certainly not easy—I can’t do it!  And like every musician, performer, athlete, or singer, a writer needs a professional manager to take care of all the details that must be handled behind the scenes for that career to be a success.  There is a reason why New York Times best-selling authors who can easily get offers by contacting any publisher have agents and keep them even if they are self-publishing as well as working with their print publisher.  




Congratulations again to all of the Seekers at Seekerville, whether members of the original group or not, for five wonderful years or writing and reading.  Thanks to everyone for being here to share this happy occasion.
 


Natasha Kern and Athena Kern
The Natasha Kern Literary Agency, Inc.
www.natashakern.com
Natasha Kern has sold well over 1,000 books in her career for clients who have become bestsellers and won many awards. She is a true foodie and loves her garden (photos on the website).

Athena Kern is following her calling---to be a champion for authors who deserve to have their God-given writing gift become a published book. She is a member of the Association of Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. When relaxing you can usually find her playing in the kitchen or horseback riding.
Athena Kern is on Twitter: @athena_kern


127 comments :

  1. Happy Birthday Seekerville!

    marissamehresman(at)aol(dot)com

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  2. Thank you for that informative post.

    I never would have considered an agent for self publishing, right about now I wished I had an agent deal with my self pubbed books, because while I stopped the contract with the POD comp.the books are still available online.
    Makes me wonder about what I could do and what I should've done.

    Tina P.

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  3. When you look at Item #3, how far out is reasonable? Can they be negotiated for a shorter time period (e.g. five years) and then continued for another five years or so? (Am I missing the point on this one?)

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  4. Hi Natasha and Athena, it sounds like you guys are superheroes for authors. I never knew there were so many legal issues when trying to get a book published. Thank you for sharing!

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  5. The coffee bar is set for heavy visitor traffic, so drink up!

    Thanks for the tips, Natasha and Athena.

    Helen

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  6. It could have been that I'm involved with attorneys quite often for my day job that made me never, ever consider going it without an agent. Luke Skywalker had Yoda.
    I'm holding out for a Yoda.
    And I'll take two cups of that coffee Helen, because I'm working late tonight getting ready for NaNo.

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  7. What a great post! It helped me in three different ways.

    Firstly, I got a glimpse of what an agent does, how she (or he) interacts with their client and what all an agent goes through on behalf of a client.

    Second, it showed me what to expect once I have an agent and what all goes on behind the scenes. (Dear agent, I pray for you as your job is not easy)

    Third, it encouraged me to keep writing and keep seeking because like Athena, I am following a calling of God. I know, without a doubt, God gave me a talent and a desire to write. Thank you so much for reminding of this!

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  8. Hi, Natasha!


    Fun to see you here. :)Happy to know Athena has joined you!

    I think in the agent/author relatonship you can't be the blind leading the blind... The agent HAS to know what's going on in the publishing biz, bad and good.
    And you do.

    As one of the 'blind', I so appreciate your expertise.

    Hm, now you sound like my guide dog. Just forget that whole section above...

    Hugs and prayers for a wonderful week!

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  9. Waving at Natasha and Athena! *wave*

    I've just got to say that I am still over the moon that Natasha's representing me, (literally, because I know I was shooting for the stars by putting her on top of my "I want her for my agent" list). And how can I not be with that list of items she does for her clients?

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  10. love the prizes on offer (Have to say I have many of the books already, downloaded Mary's book last week.
    Its interesting seeing what the benefits of an agent is.

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  11. Tina, some writers self-publish successfully by themselves. But for writers who want to work with print publishers and epub their own books, an agent can be very helpful. Agents are not only negotiators and mediators but also work to protect their client's interest in all situations.

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  12. Walt, this is actually quite complicated. There are several ways a contract can be terminated and all of those clauses need to be carefully negotiated. Termination from a book being out of print and how that is defined is very important today when an ebook can be up forever. If termination is a result of cancellation can you keep part of the advance or all of it? Can you sell the book to antoher publisher?

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  13. Walt - to answer your question, have a look at Kristine Kathryn Rusch's post http://kriswrites.com/2012/10/24/the-business-rusch-rights-reversion/

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  14. Hi Renee, thanks so much! there are just as many legal issues regarding getting your book unpublished which Walt was asking about. In other words how do you get out of a contract and get your rights back? And problems about staying in print and as we were addressing building your career from one contract to another.

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  15. Hi Virginia, You are funny! Too many hours with small children? I'm gathering your seeds.;-)

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  16. OOO! Can't wait!

    My sister who collect heirloom seeds was here a few days ago and brought 15 pounds of carrots from The Sustainable Seed Company. I think they were called 'cosmic purple' (which were purple) and some little round ones.

    DELICIOUS.

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  17. Good morning Ladies and Seekerville, It is now the next to the last day in month and what a month it has been here..guest have came and offered their expertise to the group, others have shared goodies along the way and all of the authors I read and love have shared with one another and folks like me that come along to enjoy your post and friendship...What a wonderful giveaway today thank you Seekerville.

    Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

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  18. Thank you for the post Natasha & Athena. You obviously are champions for authors rights.

    I think it's awesome that you handle so many of the Seekers contracts.

    Happy Birthday Seekerville!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  20. I did not realize all that goes with writing a book. If the author had to do all the literary agent does they would not have time to write.
    godblesssamerica.jan(at)gmail(dot)com

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  21. Natasha and Athena, thanks for a very informative post.

    How did you decide to become agents? When I think about all the various areas you need to handle (publishing trends, legal aspects, counseling!!!), it is daunting and exciting.

    Peace, Julie

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  22. Hi Natasha, you have illuminated a whole new world for me. The only "agent" I have worked with in the past is a real estate guy. Not exactly similar. In those moments when the thought breaks through that hey, one day maybe I can get published! -- I wonder how to approach an agent. Your post has given me many things to consider.

    My question: Can authors easily switch agents if the relationship becomes problematic? And, before initiating a contract with an agent or publisher, should a writer have an attorney on hand as fallback protection?

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  23. Thanks for the look into the publishing industry --as a reader, I don't usually think about author contracts and such, except for when it affects an author I follow (e.g. Wayne Thomas Batson was publishing through Thomas Nelson for the longest time, but now he isn't).

    jafuchi7[at]hawaii[dot]edu

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  24. Helen:
    Thanks for the coffee. I need it bad. I think I've gone into hibernation mode--it's so cold this morn! Brr

    Natasha & Athena:
    Wow. I never thought of some of these issues. It's nice to know someone (agent) will have my/our back. Thank you for cracking the door to your world and letting us take a peek.

    nicnac63 AT hotmail DOT com

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  25. Hi Natasha & Athena,

    What great insights you bring to us today.

    Do you handle secular as well as Christian authors? If so, what are the differences in the industries?

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  26. Natasha, it's always a joy to have you guest blog in Seekerville.

    Thanks for highlighting some of the many ways agents help their clients.

    Welcome, Athena! Congrats on working with Natasha.

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  27. Lovely to have Natasha and Athena here today. I love agent and editor visits and how wonderful to learn that Athena has come on staff for you, Natasha.

    The speed with which agents had to move to stay on top of the e-pub industry amazes me. I imagine contracts are very different than they were even a year ago in regard to retention of rights and when a publisher or author can publish a backlist book.

    In all the excitement here on the east coast yesterday, I happen to know that the northwest was quietly dealing with a major storm as well. Hope all is well .

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  28. Natasha, we're so glad to have you back! And Athena, welcome!! Thank you both for such an information packed post. I always knew I wanted an agent to deal with the business end of being an author. It's scary to see what all we need to be concerned about.

    I'm so glad I have you in my corner!! :)

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  29. Happy Birthday Seekerville. i am so happy that someone is out there looking out for the writers (and by association, readers) in all circumstances. Without books i'd be an island...nothing. Thanks for sharing Natasha and Athena.

    marianneDOTwanhamATgmailDOTcom

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  30. wow. talk about an eye opener...

    i knew the publishing and contract process was tricky, but not so tricky. i'd imagine an unagented author offered one of those pub house contracts would just be so happy to get pubbed - they could lose out to the nasty "small print".

    thanks for the very informatitve post. this makes me respect those agents even more than i did before. you possess gifts and talent i can't even imagine possessing. (all i do is draw pictures and write... heh)

    thank you again Seekerville for such a marvelous, beneficial month of birthday posts. (yes, i know there is still one more day)

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  31. Hi Natasha and Athena, Welcome to Seekerville and thanks for sharing with us again. I know your Seeker clients speak HIGHLY of you.

    It was great seeing you in Anaheim, Natasha. Always a pleasure to meet with you.

    Thanks for all the information. We so need an advocate in this highly techno day and age.

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  32. Wow, I got nervous just reading that post! Thank you both for an informative and eye opening peek into the publishing industry. Thanks for taking care of the Seekers!

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  33. Thank you Natasha and Athena...
    for being who you are and for bringing us some marvelous books by outstanding authors!

    Loved this: In addition, you have created a writers’ community where anyone can visit to become better informed about the craft of writing, about publishing, connecting with agents and editors, and the joys of writing stories that uplift readers. A wonderful thing indeed to celebrate {Applause}.

    Hear HEAR!!!

    Question: If someone first independently publishes (properly), do you recommend the person keep nose to the ground for an agent - maybe leading to traditional publication?

    I chose this independent route myself. When reading posts such as yours, it does make me wonder about finding an excellent agent one day.

    If it happens, it happens! But it sure is good to read about the ins and outs you referenced here. Thanks again for your support of these pawmazing Seekers!

    We Seekervillagers are so appreciative!

    **Hoping all is well on the east coast everyone. Having lived through a number of hurricanes myself, I know how it is...

    may at maythek9spy dot com

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  34. I applaud YOU, Natasha! All agents should have the same mindset and attitude as you! Authors definitely need a good agent on their side.

    I am happy with my agent, but a friend of mine just had a horrible experience with an agent. Everybody should read this post and know what to ask before signing with an agent, and also check out the agent's reputation as thoroughly as possible.

    Thanks for the great post!!!

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  35. This is such an interesting post. I couldn't imagine negotiating contracts without a knowledgeable agent! Thank you, ladies, for all you do!

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  36. Happy birthday!

    Thanks Natasha and Athena for the helpful post today.

    I'm not published and know I definitely want an agent. I appreciate all you said to underline the point for me.

    Have a great day!

    Jackie L.

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  37. Sometimes what's in a contract-- and what's not-- can can come back to haunt you. Every word is important.

    Thanks for sharing this, Natasha and Athena.

    And, yay for Athena! You're going to be a fabulous agent! :)

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  38. Thank you for this information, Natasha.
    I have seen your name listed in many of my favorite books (usually the sentence begins with, "Thank you to my amazing agent..." :) )

    Much appreciate these tips.

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  39. Welcome, Natasha and Athena!

    Reading your post makes me realize again how important it is to have someone you can trust in your corner. Not only does an agent need to read the fine print, they need to know where to look for it.

    Thanks for helping celebrate this month!

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  40. NATASHA AND ATHENA!!! Sooooo GREAT to see you here!!!

    Athena, I simply cannot WAIT to meet you at ACFW next year and am SO thrilled you are now working with your mom. She works WAY too hard and I have actually been worried about all that she has on her plate, so knowing you are there by her side gives me SO much peace ... and her, too, I'm sure!!

    EXCELLENT article, Natasha, and one EVERY writer who hopes to be published -- AND those who already are -- needs to read!!

    I think I speak for all your clients when I say -- you are SUCH an answer to prayer, my friend, and a true advocate for everyone you represent.

    Love you!
    Julie

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  41. Wow.

    As someone who has her manuscript out with an agent right now, there is of course, that part of me that wonders if maybe this is it. So what will *I* ask this agent. I don't want to be a blind client and this information is so incredibly wonderful and needed to educate the author. It's more than exciting to have an agent take you on: it's a partnership for a job which needs to be taken seriously. I'm learning that more and more.

    Thank you Natasha and Athena!

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  42. Fantastic post!! I am constantly reminded of how valuable agents are and how much they do for us writers. THANK YOU!

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  43. Awesome post and very timely for me. Thanks, Natasha, for taking the time to provide this information. Now I know what information to expect to see- or beware of- when the time comes. This post has really shown how different the business end of writing is from the creative end.

    I’m facing a situation where I’ve received several requests from editors through contests finals and a win, but I’m limited to pitching to the agents that are willing to attend my local conference since I haven’t been able to attend a national conference due to finances. How do you recommend an author contact agents when attending the national conferences, such as ACFW, is not possible?

    Does your agency accept querying authors who are looking for an agent to help navigate the business side of their career or do you require a face to face pitch at a conference?

    What catches your attention when you are contacted by new authors? Presentation does affect first impressions so what makes the best impression on either of you when contacted?

    Would love to be included in the drawings as well.

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  44. Welcome, Natasha & Athena!!!

    I'm with Julie, Natasha--SO glad to learn Athena is joining the team and can help ease your workload! What you do for your clients is gargantuan!

    Which means I must also echo Melissa about holding out for my "dream agent." I thank God every day for your representation--and your friendship!

    Seekervillagers, take to heart EVERYTHING in Natasha & Athena's post! If you don't have an agent yet, don't jump at the first one who offers representation. Ask questions. LOTS of questions. Ask for references. Make sure the agent is super-savvy in this crazy business and someone you know will be in your corner no matter what.

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  45. Good morning Natasha and Athena.
    I am a HUGE Natasha fan. The things she knows about the publishing industry and contract law are mind boggling. (Of course my mind is easily boggled, especially when it comes to complex legal language)

    When Natasha is negotiating my contracts she's mention some clause she needs to get changed and I'll look at it and just have no idea what it means good or bad. But that's why Natasha is invaluable. So she can handle all of that.....and I can crawl in my hole and write books.
    God bless you, Natasha. You're the best!

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  46. I have to second what Myra said above. There is so much in this post. It's all incredibly important. Read it carefully, study it, believe every word of it.

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  47. Happy birthday Seekerville! I'm just coming back from a looooong blog hiatus. What a wonderful post to return to! Great information and a celebration!

    Here's to many more years :D

    Cheers,
    Jen

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  48. Welcome back to Seekerville Natasha! And a fresh welcome to you Athena.

    Because my fiction is denominational specific I incorporated a publishing company to self publish my books. It has been a struggle to negotiate a conract between myself as a publisher and my self as an author due to all the legal issues you've mention.

    Are you accepting submissions from someone like myself?

    I also plan to publish other authors of the same genre.

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  49. Love this post Natasha and Athena,
    I don't know what I'd do without the advice and guidance of my agent. And Natasha, I love the workshops I've sat in on with you as speaker at ACFW in the past. Also, way back in 2001 I was at my first RWA conference in D.C. and sat in on a small group meeting of writers looking for an agent. You had good things to say then too. :)

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  50. It's because of posts like these on Seekerville [and elsewhere but mostly here ;)] that I know more about what kinds of things an agent does and that would never want to be without one when it comes time to sign a contract with a publisher.

    I *know* I know nothing about those sorts of things and so I need an agent who looks out for all of those things.

    I have stuff out with one now and several more getting ready to go because I know I need help.

    [The rest of you just hush ;).]

    I'd love to be entered for Mary and Myra's prizes - but I think I have all of the rest.

    I reviewed Julie's last week - wonderful! I'm so glad she wrote it [and we get to read it!] though I do wish there was a way to get a hard copy of it... My Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change serieses on my shelf will look lonely without it ;).

    But my Kindle is happy :D.

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  51. This is my first time in Seekerville...and let me just say, what an awesome community! Congrats on your birthday and to all of you ladies who have been published.

    Great information, Natasha. I definitely want an agent in my corner for all of the reasons you just mentioned.

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  52. Natasha!!! Welcome back. Thank you for the sage advice!


    And Athena. I envision you with tights and a cape and a t-shirt that says, A.C. (Author Champion).

    We need more super heroines in my world. So thank you!!!

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  53. Wow! Thanks, Natasha and Athena, for the jam-packed post! And good luck answering all the followup questions being posted! :)

    I'm wondering how to know for sure whether a particular agent has the right knowledge and attitude. Naturally everyone claims to be an expert, and I'm sure even poor agents have references from satisfied clients (and won't mention all the dissatisfied ones).

    Please put me in for the drawing du jour.

    -Linda

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  54. Welcome, Natasha and Athena!

    Is it possible for unagented authors to negotiate terms of 'boiler plate' contracts? Well, I'm sure it is, but is it likely?

    Christina

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  55. I love the great info here. I have tried to get a literary agent to no avail. They are so hard to get. I know of all the hard work they do and how much better it is to have one. I am definitely going to try your company.

    I do appreciate how Natasha shows how a literary agent works for the author.

    Thank you for what you do. Its not an easy task.
    Melinda

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  56. This is probably one of the better laid out cases for why authors need agents.

    You have a lot of wonderful clients that I enjoy reading. Congratulations!

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  57. Welcome to Seekerville, Lindsay.

    We have virtual cake all month long on the side bar.

    You're at home here so don't wait for an invitation to join in.

    Our house is your house. But remember..if you drink the last of the coffee you have to make the next pot.

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  58. Hi Jen Chandler!

    Back to writing??? Wooot for you!!!

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  59. Julie, I worked in publishing in New York at Simon & Schuster and other houses before becoming an agent. It is a true calling and a sacred trust for me. Athena, of course, grew up in a literary family and read queries back when they were all physical letters and we always receved 1-2 tubs of mail every single day. She not only has a love of reading and literature but a gift for sales and is MUCH more techno-savvy than I am.

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  60. Susan, it is possible to change agents. After all, YOU are hiring us. The difference from a real estate agent is that a literary agent will handle your finances and career issues for many years. I have clients I have worked with more than 20 years. Many of my clients previously had other agents and changed as they understood their needs better.

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  61. Rose, we do represent both secular and Christian writers and a few who write for both as well as writers who have crossed from one to the other in both directions. This is an important question since you need to know an agent will represent all of your writing. I began working in ABA(general market) when fiction did not exist in CBA (Christian)back then. I represented Jane Peart as one of my first clients when fiction was still the 'red-headed stepchild' of CBA-- and I still handle her literary estate for her daughters. I have a great passion for the power of parable and believe there is a reason Jesus taught in stories rather than bullet points.

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  62. As a reader, I am so proud of all Seekerville writers....love all their boooks!
    And what awesome giveaways!
    Jackie S.

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  63. Dianna, I'm not sure how you got the impression you can only query agents in person. we don't have clones and can only attend so many conferences each year! We do accept and read queries through our website-- but just ask one of the Seekers for a referral. Every agent takes notice of a new author referred by one of their own clients. This is MUCH more effective than the 10 minute conference pitch sessions because in a query we actually get to read the proposal. :-) And after all it is the writing we want to see-- and most writers are nervous in those sessions. And many writers are introverts and not trained in pitching like we are. Send a query to any agent who is of interest to you. And do be patient-- it is an extremely busy time of year for us.

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  64. Hi Julie!!!! Love you back!!!!

    Not only are you a wonderful writer, but also a wonderful friend to so many writers.

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  65. Cannot imagine signing a contract without an agent! Thanks for sharing these warnings, Natasha.

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  66. Linda, that is a good question and the answer is partly in your post. An agent you are considering should provide you with a list of clients who are willing to talk with you about the way she works, her personality, expertise etc.to help you decide whether it is a match. If you ask Julie, for example, about me she will gladly share stories about "being taken to the woodshed" and make you worry. :-) I am one of the most blunt-spoken people on the planet even though I hope I am also kind and caring-- it is important for a writer to know her agent will not only always be there for her but tell her the truth about her writing, her options and opportunities.

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  67. Oh my, so many things to consider and I'm very pleased to meet and hear from Natasha. I started to say that I need an agent to manage my personal life...but I was quickly reminded with a lightening bolt to my head that God is in my life for that purpose. LOL The nearer I come to actually writing a real book, which I've been wearing socks to cover my cold feet so far, I want an agent like Natasha. Thank you for this information and the great giveaway, and for the chance to be a winner.

    Blessed by Grace,
    Barb Shelton
    barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

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  68. Christina, I do represent an author who negotiated her first contract before I represented her. She used an entertainment law attorney. and no, you can't do it yourself because as I mentioned in the post, contracts are often changed by the publisher and each agent/agency receives a DIFFERENT contract. You can certainly get some things changed but a lot you cannot do on your own. Several of my clients are attorneys-- a few are wives of attorneys and they would not consider doing it themselves.

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  69. Wait a minute, Tina, I didn't get any birthday cake!! Is it carrot cake-- like Ruthy, I'm a sucker for that! And next time I post on Seekerville, I'm going to write a happy post about the joys of being an agent and birthing book babies. :-) And the rewards of midwifing books that touch hearts and minds and souls. It is a wondeful profession-- one in which we can all do well by doing good.

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  70. Natasha said: "If you ask Julie, for example, about me she will gladly share stories about "being taken to the woodshed" and make you worry. :-)"

    I can attest to this! I had l-o-o-o-o-n-g talks with Julie while communicating with Natasha about possible representation! And then I had long talks with Natasha in which she was every bit as honest and plainspoken as Julie warned me she could be.

    But that's exactly what I needed in an agent. I wanted the truth about my work--what's good, what isn't, what needs revising. Sometimes the truth hurts, but with Natasha you always know the ends justify the means. She will help you be the best writer you can be.

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  71. Melinda, don't give up. Everyone gets better at writing as well as everything else from practice. Yes, there are God-given talents but even the talented must hone those abilities to achieve success. The typical time it takes to become a published writers is about five years-- the same time it takes to become anything else like doctor, lawyer etc. Read the early works of some of your favorite writers and you will see they did improve over time (and you don't know how many mss are in their computer that were not salable).

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  72. Good afternoon, Seekerville.

    Superstorm Sandy managed to make me forget to check in here til now. Fortunately I do have power so I can read.

    Thanks, Natasha and Athena, for sharing your expertise and taking the time to answer questions.

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  73. Such great information - thanks so much, Kerns. Would LOVE to win ANY of the books listed. Wow. Thanks, Seekerville - and happy birthday AGAIN!

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  74. Thanks so much for sharing! I knew I wanted an agent, but I had no idea how much you guys did. Wow! I wouldn't want to negotiate those rights myself.

    Happy Birthday, Seekerville! I'm a little sad that the birthday month is coming to an end. Can't we celebrate again next month?

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  75. I'm so grateful to have a wonderful agent in my corner, especially through the lean times when things aren't all rosy and tied up with a bow.

    Thank you, Natasha, for all you do for authors.

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  76. Mary, so glad to hear from you! Stay dry and warm!

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  77. Natasha,
    great post, as usual. Printing it out and placing it with the handouts from your workshop at ACFW 2011. Great stuff on agents.

    I always love how your passion for your clients shines through! And you have such a way of encouraging authors to keep trying!

    Welcome to Athena. I'm a big fan of great names :-)

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  78. Happy birthday Seekerville! This has been an amazing birthday bash and I hate to see it end. Please enter me in the drawing.

    Natasha thanks for the enlightening post. I'm thrilled to see an additional agent on board. You've given me a lot to mull over as I begin my agent search.

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  80. Okay -- after reading that blog, I feel a little bit queasy. I didn't realize how much could go wrong for a published writer! You've struck fear into my fragile writer's heart! Agents are now officially elevated to super hero status. There ought to be a national holiday in their honour and a decadebt chocolate cake named after them. :-)

    Question: (now that I've buttered you up). If you have a 'first refusal rights' clause (if that's what it's called) with a publisher -- how long does that last? (not specified on the contract).

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  81. Hi Natasha and Athena,
    Thank you for your thoughtful post. There are so many details associated with this business. It's obvious that you know the road map and are skilled in navigating an author from point A to published. I appreciate your wisdom.

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  82. Great post, thanks for sharing!
    Lots to think about.

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  83. This is such great perspective, Natasha and Athena! I will definitely file this away when the time comes for me to choose an agent who will be my advocate! Thank you so much for sharing today.

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  84. Welcome Natasha and Athena, and thank you for sharing this helpful information today. I am truly in awe of literary agents and ALL you do--it's almost mind-boggling when I really think about it. ~ Hmmm...Helen, I think I need some of your coffee this afternoon for my "boggled mind" LOL. ~ Thanks again for this great post! Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

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  85. Thank you for the great insight. It really laid out how advantageous it is to have a agent

    fencingromein at hotmail dot com

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  86. Kav, first refusal or "option" clauses are another aspect of contracts that are crucial to negotiate well. It isn't just the time period. An option can continue even after termination of a contract. And it will determine what else you can write or offer to another publisher for the duration of that contract. Today, noncompete clauses are becoming almost as important and some noncompete clauses in CBA contracts take the place of option clauses. Be sure to let your agent know your plans because you won't be able to pursue them if the option does not allow it. Now think about authors who write for more than one publisher and the issue of not having option clauses that conflict! And whether that option restrains you from self-pubbing ebooks.

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  87. Natasha and Kav, you've both brought up a subject that I'm concerned about. These first rights of refusal scare me. Is it better to not sign a contract if you can't find an agent?

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  88. Great article! Thanks for sharing. :)

    Ann_Lee_Miller[at]msn[dot]com

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  89. There are intellectual property rights clauses, too.
    I also find those scary. :)

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  90. This post should have come out tomorrow, on Halloween. Because it's scary!

    After reading this,I can't imagine anyone going it alone without an agent.

    Thank you for sharing with us!

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  91. A terrific post that taught me a great deal. I had no idea there are agents who don't negotiate contracts (!) I also would never have thought about needing an agent to self-publish.

    And that list of problems that have happened to your clients? I've seen each one of them happen to writers I know. The editor leaving and a book tied up when a publisher went bankrupt happened to the same writer within a few months. Fortunately each of the writers had an agent -- and one of the writers was also an agent :-)

    Hmm. Perhaps I should clarify. I've seen those problems happen to different writers, not all the problems happen to the same writer. Egads, wouldn't that be awful.

    Thanks for the info and education,
    Nancy C

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  92. Natasha,
    You really do need to come back and talk about books that provide AHA moments, food that will feed gray matter, and that most fascinating Natasha topic of all, THE. MORAL. PREMISE, or Philosophy 678. :)

    Athena, I cannot wait to meet you and fifth the emotion that your jumping on board will give N time for more AHA moments instead of Oh, NO!!!! moments...

    Natasha, thank you for being a champion of good writing, even when mine is not and needs a "behind the woodshed" appointment:)

    It's nice to be back at Seekerville. Pass the carrot cake with double icing, please:)

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  93. Hi Natasha,

    Thanks for sharing in such an honest and open manner. Great information.

    With everything changing so quickly in the publishing world, having an agent like you-helping to negotiate the ups and downs-would be such an asset and a blessing to an author!

    Thank you for all your hard work. On behalf of all Julie fans everywhere, I especially thank you for getting Julie's wonderful work published! Just finished "A Love Surrendered" yesterday and it was the perfect ending to the whole O'Connor saga. (Although somewhat bittersweet to reach The End!)

    Someday I hope to be half as good a writer!

    Cheers,
    Sue
    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

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  94. Thank you so much for your lovely comments & welcoming responses! As challenging as it is to learn the ropes of being an agent, it makes me admire authors all the more for their courage and determination to achieve their pub goals. I wish you all the very best with your writing endeavors and dreams!

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  95. Great post. I love the part about "Career Development and Growth." I'm just starting out as a writer, and I hope to make it a career. I want my agent to be focused not just on the here and now but also on my future.

    -Tessa

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  96. Waving to Patti Lacy! ". . . more AHA moments instead of Oh, NO!!!! moments..."

    Oh yeah. We can only hope! :)

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  97. I have butterflies in my stomach after reading what all can go wrong.
    When I was younger, I would've taken chances so an agent would'nt get a percentage. Cheap. Cheap. Not anymore...

    Thanks for the valuable info.
    Connie Queen

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  98. This post sure shows why an agent is valuable to a writer. Writing is certainly a challenging career, much beyond just putting the words on paper. I admire you authors (and am thankful for the agents who help protect your interests). Thanks for writing the books I love to read.

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  99. Fabulous information, Natasha! Thank you for visiting us and sharing so much.

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  100. Susan Anne, the O'Connor saga is not over yet. Julie's A Light In the Window a full-length novel will be e-published November 9th. It is Patrick and Marcy's love story and it is WONDERFUL.

    Natasha

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  101. Patti, you goose, you know that you are a wonderful writer, exceptional really. No one gets enough feedback or proofed enough. Notice the errors that crept even into this blog posting of ours. We ALL need editors! :-) we will come back just as you are suggesting to talk about all of the joyful AHAs intead of Oh Nos! So many things about my job that I love. Working with writers who are talented, authentic and praising God is certainly right up there.

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  102. Love and hugs to all of my Mom's clients. You all are simply the BEST! I'm honored by your kind and supportive words, thank you :).

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  103. Happy Birthday Seekerville! makeighleekyleigh at yahoo.com

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  104. Happy Birthday Seekervillians! And thanks Natasha and Athena for such a great post :) kjisaac (at) ymail.com

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  105. Hello Natasha and Athena! This was a very informative post--thank you for visiting Seekerville today!

    Piper

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  106. Welcome back to Seekerville, Natasha! And welcome, Athena! I've been out of town the past few days, so didn't get to join you until my return this evening. However, I'm more than happy to report that the Natasha Kern Literay Agency was an answer to my prayers! Thank you SO MUCH, Natasha!

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  107. Wonderfully informative post, Natasha!
    I sold my first book to Harlequin's LIH line without an agent, and have been wondering whether to get an agent ever since. Your post has just added more information for me to ponder. Thank you!
    I also love that your daughter has decided to work with you! Congratulations Athena!

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  108. This is great information when considering an agent. There is so much to learn!
    Jan

    janet_kerr(at)msn.com

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  109. Oh, I am so sorry to be late to this party but I spent yesterday with a surprise crew of children who had off from school because of Frankenstorm...

    Natasha, always words of wisdom. And words of wisdom that every author should be mandated to hear by year TWO of pursuing this career. Thank you so much for a great blog (as always) and for all you do for your clients. It's no wonder they're a raucous bunch, singing your praises!

    Ruthy

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  110. Wonderful post, Natasha, and wonderful agent! I can't imagine navigating these waters without you. I'm thrilled to hear that Athena is carrying the torch beside you, and can only imagine the impact that TWO Kern women will make in the industry!!!

    Many, many thanks for all you do, and much admiration! God's blessings!

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  111. Well look who's late to this party. I had no idea Natasha was going to be here. Waving at you (and Athena) from frosty northern Michigan this morning, and hoping to meet Athena at conference next year. :-)

    Okay. Intellectual property rights? What????????????????????????????? Going to google that right now.

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  112. Okay, totally sure googling "intellectual property rights" didn't help. In fact, I'm only more confused. :-(

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  113. NATASHA SAID: "I am one of the most blunt-spoken people on the planet even though I hope I am also kind and caring"

    AMEN TO THAT ... ESPECIALLY the "kind and caring," part, my friend ... something I didn't realize the full depth of till a year or two after you signed me. What can I say? I tend to be a little dense at times .... but I assure you, I NOW see the light, and it's provided a beautiful glow in my life, so THANK YOU!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  114. CAROL ... thank you for your kind words, my friend!


    And SUZI-Q ... you are SUCH a sweetheart and I am SO glad our paths have crossed, my friend!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  115. Dreaming that someday someone as wonderful as Natasha will walk into my writing career and see something they like. Thank you for representing so many great authors and getting their books out there to give pleasure to so many.

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  116. really informative post! even though im not writing a book, per se, i found the information quite interesting.

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  117. Natasha,

    Thanks for that informative post!

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  118. What a fantastic post. Thank you Seekerville for bringing Ms. Kern's wisdom and sage advice to us. These are interesting scenarios, like divorce and death, that so many of us don't take into consideration while plotting our careers. Bookmarking this post.

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  120. Thanks, Natasha and Athena, for sharing your insight. I see now more than ever the necessity of a great agent to help navigate the writing/publishing world. Lord willing, I'll find the one for me.

    P.S. Happy Birthday Seekerville!

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  121. I love reading posts like this from agents - it's a good reminder of all the things self-publishing requires. Not that one or the other is better or worse, but the knowledge of necessary information is so important when making publishing decisions.

    Thanks ladies,
    Becky

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  122. Interesting post! "Fact: the publisher can own your rights for 35 years until they terminate under federal copyright law if there are no other provisions in the contract." Wow!

    Jes
    jswaks at gmail dot com

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  123. Great post! Thanks for the information. :-)

    dancerchick(at)cimexico(dot)org

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  124. Interesting info!
    shopgirl152nykiki(at)yahoo(dot)com

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