A couple of weeks ago, I put up a bleg for a referrals for a lawyer to review my literary agent’s contract (mind you, she already landed a publisher, but since it takes months for the agency to finalize the contract with the publisher, I haven’t yet signed the agent’s contract.
I received an overwhelming response and am embarrassed that I have replied only in a small number of cases (the e-mails would generally require a personal response). I hate being this underwater and neglectful of generous offers of assistance, but I can barely keep up with reading comments these days (which I do regard as important). So I do hope to get back to you and thank you personally, but it may take a VERY long time.
Even more interesting was the advice from publishers and authors, which was pretty consistent. Basically, they said as a first time author, my negotiating leverage isn’t great, and the size of the advance (“modest” is the term of art) argued against spending legal $. In fairness, the writer who had earlier suggested I spend “the $600” for an attorney to review the agreement was unable to produce an attorney, much the less one who would do it for that amount. My experience with attorneys is unless it is an area where lawyers routinely deal with small matters, it’s hard to engage a firm for what looks to be a one-off for less than four figures. And this really ought to be a cheap exercise (the contract is short, largely boilerplate, and I just want comments on it, not negotiation) but that does not mean an attorney is willing to work that way with a client. Some also provided some helpful, specific suggestions on what to watch out for.
So that is a long-winded way of saying that the referral ideas were very much appreciated, but have turned out to be moot, in that this is too small a matter to make sense to get an attorney on board.
BTW, I was also told my agency (Trident Media) does have a good reputation and that the value of using an agent wasn’t just in selling the book, but that an agency has much more leverage with publishers than a writer does (in negotiating the actual book contract, which is a much more complicated agreement).
Readers with any further advice can ping me at firstname.lastname@example.org