Astound Agency wants to represent me?

  • @MichaelaH One to three years, I can do that! :0 Thanks for bringing in some wisdom from the book fair. Did it go well for you?

    @NessIllustration Hehe. Thanks, I appreciate the insight. This is all very new to me and I confess (though I'm sure it's obvious) that I'm a bit on the unprepared side of things. Quick question, if you don't mind..I believe that the agency takes something like 30-35% of the profits. Some of my friends and family seemed to think that was a bit high, but...they, of course, have no experience with the business. So is that an average percentage? What's your opinion?

  • Awesome congratulations! Lee whites advice is spot on, but what Ness was saying could be a good approach, take both opportunities.

    Well done, so nice to hear and I hear Astound is a great agency.

  • @Perrij It is not easy, standing in lines for the illustrators, where you can talk to publisher's editors and show them your portfolio. I have hotten new contact this year again. So I can send them my digital portfolio.

  • @Perrij Congrats your Portfolio is really lovely ,can you not take the teaching job and still be signed with an agent ?

  • @Perrij Forget my last question Isee you are going to take both jobs Good Luck!!

  • Congratulations! Thank you so much for sharing the information and starting this thread. I learned so much by hearing other people's experience.

  • Pro

    @Perrij 35% is about the norm for agencies, as I understand it. I believe Advocate Art and Bright (as well as many others) collect 35% as well. My old agency Beehive collected only 25%, but they didn't do as much legwork as Astound does (monthly blog features, working with the artist to update and improve the portfolio, etc). While 35% may seem high from an outside perspective, agencies have contacts in the industry that allow them to get you much higher level contracts, and much better paid. 65% of a 20k dollars contract is still a lot more interesting than 100% of a 1k dollars contract. Of course, they'll probably start you off with smaller contracts not 20k right off the bat. Still, they're contracts that you will not have spent time hunting down yourself, and time is money 🙂

  • Congrats! This is exciting news! I haven’t been on the forums in some time but I wanted to just lend some advice. I was approached by Astound last year and it was very exciting. But after talking with them and reading their contract they just didn’t feel like the right fit for me. It really came down to comfortability. I had a full-time job at the time so I didn’t have to go with an agent or agency if it didn’t feel right. Luckily, I queried a few other agents I really wanted to work with and I was able to go with an agency that felt good for me. Since signing with my agent in early 2018, I’ve been able to build a nice client list and will be going part-time at my day job and full-time freelance early next year. So make sure you feel good about the agent/agency you will be working with. Make sure the interview process feels right for you and they are a good fit for you. (Setup a phone call with them and ask a ton of questions. And question things in their contract and make sure you understand the contract. There shouldn't be any push back for these basic things.) Make sure they understand your goals and what you want to accomplish. I know everyone has to start somewhere but don't let your needs and wants be overlooked! I hope this was helpful!

  • Pro

    @Kekkerz86 @Perrij Totally agree with this advice! Not every agent/agency will be a good fit for everyone and it's a great idea to ask a lot of questions and make sure all your needs can be met before signing. I signed on very fast with my first agency Beehive, only to leave a year later when it became clear it wasn't a good fit. That being said, I've personally had a great experience with Astound. They are now working with a third-party company called It'sMe to recruit talent and I believe it has tremendously improved their on-boarding process. Lara from It'sMe was able to take a large amount of time replying to all my questions, going over the contract with me and making sure everything is clear and works for all parties. She also advised me on how to transition from my old agency to Astound and introduced me to everyone so I know who does what and who to ask for different concerns I might have. She was even the one to put together my printed portfolio booklet among other things. This process seems to be working well for Astound and for new recruits! It felt like a right fit for me, but may not be for you @Perrij . Since you have admitted to not having a lot of experience/knowledge of how agents work, make sure to ask lots of questions. Some things that you have asked here, like about the percentage of the commission and the work load, should definitely also be asked directly to your contact at Astound. Don't be embarrassed or fear looking inexperienced - an agent is supposed to help guide you, so seeing how they can help guide you now is a very good indication of what you can expect from them in the future if you sign with them.

  • @NessIllustration These are great points. It's good to also think about it in terms of marketing dollars. Many businesses look at a product and service understanding that a huge chunk of their profit has already been allocated to advertising and marketing. So if you look at it in terms of marketing, getting say a $20,000 contract would require a many thousands in marketing and advertising and failed potential sales before you got that final contract. You're essentially trading that same dollar allocation to sitting around and waiting for work to show up that's groomed for your talents.

  • Pro

    @jdubz That is a very nice way of putting it, and very true! Our art is our product, and our agent is our sales and marketing team 🙂 Although at first glance one might balk at 35% and think "but I'm the one who'll be doing all the art!", the sales/marketing part of it is actually invaluable and well worth the commission. No sales, no career. That much is true for every business out there. Agents are also much better at sales than most of us artists, let's face it!

  • Thank you everyone for coming here and helping me out, you've been awesome! (of course, the whole forum is awesome. It should come as no surprise)
    Lara is the one who contacted me as well. I will definitely be asking those questions, Ness . But are there any other questions that come to mind, @Kekkerz86 or @NessIllustration ? Sorry to be hanging off your back here, but I'm rather unsure what sort of things to ask the agents!

    I figure the initial contract is only for 6 months, which is enough time for me to get a feel for this company and see how it works out. It's difficult to know what will "feel right" as far as an agent goes, when I have nothing else to compare it to. But hopefully when it's over and done, I'll have some things to share with the rest of you!

  • Pro

    @Perrij Anything that you're not sure how it works and want to know more. For instance, I was curious about where they will be showing my work (web, events, newsletter, in what formats, etc) and the pay system. With agencies, the pay can be a bit slow because the client is invoiced, then has a certain amount of time to pay the invoice (often 30 days), then they pay the agency, THEN the agency has a system to go through all payments and redistribute that money to the artist. At my old agency it was quite informal so it was quicker (but we had less visibility) but at Astound they have a specific system that can take longer but is very organized and always visible to the artist. Anyway, It's good to ask about that and see if that system works for you. Lara also said in her first email that she thought my art would be a good fit for Astound - I asked her to elaborate on why she believed that was the case. Her reply helped clarify what industries Astound is targeting with their contacts and why that's a good fit for my art style.

    Questions pertaining more specifically to your portfolio will be better answered directly by your assigned agent after (if) you sign. For instance, I was assigned to Aurora and she proceeded to ask me questions about my background, what kind of work I would like to do, where I'd like my career to go, where she thinks my work could fit best, etc. She then reviewed my portfolio, made suggestions of things I might want to lean into or avoid in the future, and suggested some pieces I could do to round up and improve my portfolio. This will be a very good time to have an in-depth chat about your career goals and where your art fits in the industry.

  • @Perrij I didn't have anything to compare it to either but this is why I say setup a phone call with them and have a conversation. If the conversation feels natural and comfortable and you feel at the end like "yeah, I can work with them!" then that's great! But if the conversation feels awkward and like the agent isn't trying to get to know you or is just answering your questions and you still feel unsure after the phone call then I would think a little harder about signing with them.

    Here are some questions I asked while looking for an agent:

    How many artists does the agency currently represent?
    How many artist does each agent rep?
    Will I bounce around from agent to agent?
    With the amount of artists you have, will I get lost?
    Are all of your artists currently working?
    Are you editorial agents?
    What are your goals for your career? What are your long term goals?
    How many artists/authors do you plan to represent?
    What are your goals for me?
    How often will we touch base on those goals?
    Is it ok for me to be selective on the projects I take on?

    As for the agent %, 33-35% does feel high, especially when you have to take into account tax % and your own cost of living. Here's a video that kinda breaks down advances, agent fees, and taxes ( Not all of it applies but I do think it is something to think about while going through this process. I didn't learn any of this in college and not a lot of people talk about putting away a % for taxes. I think Lee talks about all this in one of his classes but Alexa gives you a chart to plug in numbers so you can see what you will actually take home once everything is accounted for. You can also setup a google sheets or excel doc yourself with formulas that work for you. This has been super helpful for me and I use it every time I get a new project!

    Sorry if this is a lot but I hope it's helpful and good luck! 🙂

    @NessIllustration I think that's the part that made me feel a bit uneasy. That I wasn't talking to the agent I'd be working with before getting signed. I'm someone who loves to be one on one and build a relationship. I felt that I needed to know who I would be working with from the beginning and it seems that they "place you" afterwards. But I think if you're ok with that then that works for you! I just knew for me that, that wasn't what I was looking for.

  • Pro

    @Kekkerz86 That's very valid! Astound is a big agency where everything runs smoothly like a machine, I can see how for some people that might not be a good fit. I checked out your agency and it seems to be much more personal and prefers to focus on a small roster of highly talented artists. That seems a lovely system and I'm so happy for you that you found your perfect fit 🙂

    I'm personally someone who's more introverted and I like when there are established systems so things run smoothly without me having to reach out to someone every time. Astound has an artist portal where I can see all my jobs and pending payments without having to talk to a soul (I can see how this would be a plus for some, but a minus for others haha!) I like thinking that my agent spends most of her time looking for work for me and her other artists, not on the phone all day talking to potential recruits. As an anxious person, I would have felt bad taking so much of the agent's time, whereas with the third party I felt very comfortable asking as many question as I needed and taking as much of her time as I needed. I also felt more comfortable asking more straight-forward questions about the agency's ethics and functioning and trusted I would get honest answers from someone who isn't within that company themselves. But for someone who values forming a strong one-on-one relationship with a specific agent, I can see how not even getting a phone call with them before signing would be a red flag. And then, at Astound you're assigned a "main" agent but may work with others sometimes. I just got offered a job from a British publisher, so one of the agents in Britain that has a closer relationship with that publisher is the one that will be working with me on this one if we end up signing. I personally prefer that the agent that knows this company best will be the one negotiating on my behalf, but I know many artists don't want to bounce around different agents. @Perrij these are all things to take into consideration. Do you think you would fit better with a bigger, perhaps colder agency, or a smaller more personal one?

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