The rollercoaster ride of (not) selling a book

When I last wrote about looking for a new literary agent I mentioned that I had met with Darley Anderson, überagent of Lee Child and Martina Cole.

We left it with me promising to come up with a few more possible plots for the characters of Instinct and its sequel, Pursuit. Having done that to their satisfaction (it’s amazing the technothriller plots you can find by following The New Scientist on Twitter) I was sent a contract-type agreement which I duly signed and returned.

So far so good.

The next part of the process involved me sending my previous contracts (agent and publisher) to DA so they could dot the Ts of where they stood before offering Pursuit to publishers.

And that’s where it began to unravel.

The bottom line is that I have a book liked by a great agent, who was all ready to send it off. Unfortunately the c0mplications of my original contract mean that they can’t represent me. My terms with Penguin granted them 10% of the film rights to Instinct, and I have since been told by two agents that this clause makes it very difficult to get representation for a book related to Instinct. You see, if anyone wanted to make a film out of Pursuit they would have to negotiate in some way with Penguin, who kind of own a fraction of the film version rights of the characters. So if you’re an agent who wants to sell film rights you are having to deal with the buyer, the seller and the old publisher, as well as my ex-agent, who still retains his interest in Instinct.

Is that clear?

So now I have a choice: try to find an agent that doesn’t mind these complications (possible, considering Penguin have first option on an Instinct sequel. Most agents would love to sell a book to Penguin, even with the attendant difficulties), but maybe miss out on having DA represent me in future, something I would really like to happen.

Or leave Pursuit to rot somewhere, move on and write an unrelated thriller that Penguin would have no claim to (I’ve actually already written another novel that is in a completely different genre, but I’d like to build a thriller franchise and this other book feels a little one-offish).

I think I’ve lost most of you now, but thanks for making it this far.

If you are an agent or know anyone who is, and you understand the above problem, let me know in the comments. I’d love any advice.