Only once has an editor brought up the topic. "We'd like to work with you," he said, "but we can't give you the big, upfront royalties you're used to getting."
He didn't explain how he knew how much upfront royalties I received, but I said, "I don't care much about money, but my agent does. Talk to her about the contract."
When you sign with an agent, they take care of your finances, and they charge you nothing but the sales commission of 15 percent. Twenty years ago agents charged for copying and postage because all manuscripts were on hard copy and went through the mail. Long-distance calls cost anywhere from five to ten cents a minute. In those days, many legitimate agents charged for the extras.
In 1997, until my agent sold for me, she charged $35 a month for office expenses. I think I paid for only two months. After that, she absorbed all costs.
There's no reason for those charges today. If an agent wants to add charges for anything beyond the standard commission, don't sign.
Reputable agents work on commission
and only on commission.