Textbook author shares her experience working with literary agent

Dr. Cynthia Arem hired literary agent Michael Lennie of Lennie Literary & Authors Attorneys to negotiate the contract for her most recent book, Conquering Writing Anxiety. He is also negotiating the terms for her Conquering Reading Anxiety book, which is in the proposal stage, and negotiating the terms for the third edition of her Conquering Math Anxiety: A Self-Help Workbook with CD, 2nd Edition, published by Brooks/Cole.

“I previously negotiated my own contracts, and in retrospect, realized that I gave too many of my rights away, and I was missing important clauses in the contracts; clauses which would have been to my benefit,” she said. “I find that my agent fights for me. I don’t have to deal with contract negotiations with my publisher. My agent knows contract law and works to get me the best contract terms an author can get.”

Before hiring a literary agent, said Arem, interview him or her to make sure you and the agent are a nice fit: “Make sure your agent believes in your book project. Your agent should work for you and get the best publishing deal he or she can.” Lennie was recommended to her by one of her writing mentors.

The role of a literary agent is different than that of an authoring attorney, she said, in that when you hire an attorney, you pay per hour for his or her assistance. When you hire a literary agent, said Arem, the agent will get a percentage of the royalties and the agent will stay with the book project as it unfolds to make sure the publisher follows through. “I will be paying 15 percent of my royalties and my advance to my agent, but I think it is worth it,” she said.

Once you’ve hired a literary agent, said Arem, you should not discuss contract terms with the publisher and you should leave all negotiations to the agent.