You are an ambitious, young Presidential-wannabe.  This makes you a trifle immodest and you decide to write an autobiography, Volume 1.  It’s going to set the stage for your Presidential bid.   Some may say you have yet to do anything so said volume may not sell too well, even though you have an exotic cocktail of a family background and were President of Harvard Law Review.   They may be right so you are not willing to pay a lump sum fee to employ an agent to sell your manuscript: not only might your book not work out, you would be stuck with a bill from an agent to add to your law school debts.

Luckily for you, pretty much every guy who writes a book is in the same position as you: immodest enough to write a book and yet knowing that it might not sell.  So, there is a standard contract that is signed with a book agent:  they work for you to get you a contract and if the book actually sells they get 15%.  This way you share the risk: if the book fails, at least you do not also lose the amount you paid the agent; in return, if it succeeds, you do not get to keep all the benefits.  The 15% contract gives you a form of insurance. Plus, it gives the agent the incentive to work hard, helping to alleviate the moral hazard problem.

Miracle of miracles, the book does actually sell eventually.  It lies ignored but you become kind of famous anyway and then people buy it.  Now you’re ready for Volume 2.  Is the old book agent contract still the best option for you?

Well, Volume 2 is almost certainly going to fly off the shelves.  You do not need to share the risk.  All you care about is the getting the best price and you don’t need protection in case of failure as it ain’t going to fail.  Best just to go with a great negotiator.  In fact, a well-connected Washington lawyer might be just the thing.  You just pay him upfront and he calls his contacts.  And he’s done it before.  It’s expensive if your book fails and you don’t get the rest of your advance or even have to give back the chunk they gave you.  But Volume 2 is your road to the Presidency, Volume 1 was just laying the foundation.  Everyone will read it as you’re intriguing and you’ll get to keep your advance and even get royalties.  Now, you can afford to be President as your law school debts are paid and you can even send your kids to a spiffy private school.