They don't charge mailing fees, they do take the payments directly from the publisher and then cut the author a check, which contractually is done within 10 business days although she said Christmas always goofs things up. The only time, though, she said, that checks don't get cut that fast is if there are foreign payments involved and sometimes it takes a long time for those to get cleared.
They don't work with a written author/agent contract, but each of the contracts they negotiate states that this contract is made with the Donald Maass agency and delineates the rights therein, and that works for me, I think. She said Don's policy is that if a relationship is having problems, then to talk it out and if a satisfactory answer can't be reached then to part amicably, and, yeah, I can work with that.
They do editing. (She said her edits for Jim's fantasy novel were: "Throw out the first hundred pages.") Um. Oh! I did ask about earning out advances. She said they're called basket verses separate royalties, and basket royalties are the oens where you have to earn out the whole advance before you get royalties and separate are where, well, you don't. :) So she'll be talking to Mary-Theresa about separate, which she said she does normally anyway but she made a note to specifically do it because I'd asked about it. And she's going to try to get me more money, which, well, hey, rock on. :)
I told her about the various projects I had in the hopper, and I'm sending her the complete manuscripts for Angles and US and I told her I'd send her the synopsis for HoS but I was going to hold off a few weeks on sending her the ms until I'd done the rewrites on it that I wanted.
*laugh* And while we were talking she asked if I had a website, and I said yeah, cemurphy.net, and she went and looked and said, "Ack! I had competition!? Did I *win*?!" Which was, y'know, very human and funny and cool. :) I told her that the other agents were aware I'd been talking to other people, and that I'd be contacting them as soon as I got off the phone to tell them I'd opted for representation elsewhere (I have to do that; what I really did when I got off the phone was send her the synopsis for HoS and tell everybody I knew that I'd gotten an agent, and then tell Ted, who'd just gotten up, all about the phone call).
It was a really, really good conversation. I liked her a great deal--and not just because she said she liked my writing! *laugh*--and I feel really solid about having her as my agent. She said--this was cool! She said that my name had actually come up in conversation yesterday with Anna Genoese! That Anna'd mentioned me and Jennifer went 'oh wow, she just contacted me'. Isn't that cool? Hee hee hee!
(I am so not a calm, cool, collected author-type, am I? *snort* :))
So there you have it. I might post some more later, but for right now, I've got an agent, I've got a book deal, I've got an editor, and I'll be hearing about the contract later today or tomorrow, I expect. More details when I have 'em!