This wonderful article
made me wonder about what might be the Ten Commandments for Writers, but I could only come up with a few obvious ones (“Don’t write anything rubbish”). However, the sins of agents are many, and here’s my stab at Twenty Commandments for Agents. Further suggestions welcome…
1. Thou shalt put the client’s interests first.
2. Thou shalt give positive feedback as well as negative.
3. Thou shalt return phone calls and answer emails.
4. Thou shalt deal with contracts and payments promptly.
5. Thou shalt keep thine ego in check.
6. Thou shalt not indulge in paranoia.
7. Thou shalt resist weird superstitions about what works in the industry.
8. Thou shalt not indulge in strange practices to improve thy clients’ luck and frustrate thy competitors.
9. Thou shalt not boast to a client about another client’s greater success.
10. Thou shalt not make enemies.
11. Thou shalt not knowingly represent anything rubbish.
12. Thou shalt not harry publishers and producers fruitlessly.
13. Thou shalt not blame everything on someone else.
14. Thou shalt be honest and caring, without undue support from alcohol, drugs and egregious boasting.
15. Thou shalt not spend more than 2 hours a day moaning about the industry to thine agent friends or thy clients.
16. Thou shalt remember thy clients’ names and (roughly) what they wrote.
17. Thou shalt not look covetously on another agent’s client.
18. Thou shalt not use thy lunch as a bookmark.
19. Thou shalt keep up with new developments. As soon as a new right exist, writers start losing money.
20. Thou shalt resist harking back to the golden days of 100% repeat fees, uncomplicated royalty statements, the Net Book Agreement, 15-year licences, and the ability to send an interesting work in progress to someone who had the time to read it properly and think about commissioning the writer.