Rule #18

2 12 2011

Know What You Need in an Agent Before You Hire One.


Having an agent is wonderful and amazing.  Having an agent can be frustrating and awful.  Gee, I’ve certainly heard both comments.  You may have had or heard similar stories that straddle both sides of the spectrum.

One thing I know for sure is that there are terrific agents in the art licensing and licensing business who are honest and tirelessly hardworking.  They also have the incredible contacts you need and the know-how to get your contracts negotiated.

Let’s face it.  Agents know the ins and outs of the business and are invaluable. Some agents, but not all, will give you trend advice, art direction and branding strategies.

All this help will cost you an average of 40-50% of your royalty income.  And it’s worth every penny, if you really want and need an agent to handle the sales and marketing aspects of your business.  What I really want to emphasize is that you should understand what services you want and need, and exactly what services the agent you find (or finds you) offers.

All agents are not created equal.  I can’t say it any clearer.  Perhaps most surprising is that the services agents offer vary in so many ways. It’s best to get some comparisons, because they don’t all do the same thing for the same amount of money. For example, you get 7 services over here for 50%, but over here you get 12 services for 50%. And what are those services? Finally, you need to strongly consider the personality of the overall agency and that of the agent who will be directly responsible for your business.

To find a great agent you need to interview your prospects thoroughly. And while it may have been a challenge to get interest and an offer from a reputable agent, you still should not sign a contract with an agent until you really understand what you’re getting for your money.

Ask a lot of questions about their planning, marketing, sales and PR efforts.  Also what is their trade show attendance and whether they provide you with creative direction or production assistance. And make sure you understand what, if any, expenses you will be required to pay. There are a whole lot of things you need to think about, so interview them as if you are vetting a potential business partner—because that’s exactly what you’re doing.



One response

10 01 2012

This is a great post! Would you be able to provide us with a list of the services agents (could) provide? For example, when you mentioned ‘production assistance’, I didn’t even realize that agents had that capacity. (Although I understand that some will and some won’t). This would help us to compare our list of needs against things they might offer (or not), so we know what to ask for or look for in an agent. Thanks Jeanette!

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