Another Respected Agent Gets into EPublishing

News, trends, and the future of publishing

Another Respected Agent Gets into EPublishing

Postby Margo » 25 Jul 2011, 15:13

Check out the latest post from Jessica Faust of BookEnds:

http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/2011/07/bookends-strategy-for-self-epublishing.html

There is MUCH argument about whether her idea is ethical, but that's beside my point. Plenty of agents still want to depict self-epublishing as a fad among a bunch of talentless wannabes, but some very familiar industry names are starting to hedge their bets.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/
Margo
 
Posts: 1712
Joined: 05 Apr 2010, 08:21

Re: Another Respected Agent Gets into EPublishing

Postby Holly » 25 Jul 2011, 17:09

I clicked on the link and read the post, plus the interesting discussion that followed (which has some sharp and to the point comments).

The publishing industry is in an upheaval, shifting to digital, and these agents are scrambling to keep their careers. I'm not the sharpest crayon in the box, but here is how I see agents. Traditionally, they've had two functions:

(1) Agents have been the gatekeepers between writers and publishers. Sign with an agent, who will save you from the slush pile and put your work in front of publishers, who will then distribute it to the public.

Ebooks have thrown this out the window. You don't need an agent to download your work on Amazon, B&N, etc. It's free. You can do it yourself. It takes about two minutes.

Which leaves (2) Agents manage your royalties, chase down your checks, sell foreign rights, etc.

Ebooks have thrown this out the window, too. Amazon, B&N, etc. pay you directly, right in your bank account once a month, or you can go through Smashwords or some other site that will manage all the retailers and pay you quarterly. Book retailers sell your work overseas.

Why would you want to give an agent 15% of your royalties on an ebook forever? For doing what? "Marketing"? You mean going on twitter and forums and doing guest blogs? Give me a break!
User avatar
Holly
 
Posts: 500
Joined: 21 Dec 2009, 19:42
Location: Gettysburg, PA

Re: Another Respected Agent Gets into EPublishing

Postby Margo » 25 Jul 2011, 18:41

Holly wrote:Why would you want to give an agent 15% of your royalties on an ebook forever? For doing what? "Marketing"? You mean going on twitter and forums and doing guest blogs? Give me a break!


I think Jessica was trying to push more the editorial side of things, but self-publishers kept bringing it back around to marketing, which is what Bob Mayer was trying to call out. I actually wouldn't be surprised if some writers felt it was worth the 15% to not have to deal with certain things themselves. The website did make it clear, though, that it wasn't 'forever'; it was for a limited and set term.

Overall, I still doubt many writers will take advantage of a set-up like the one she's describing. It's much more likely agents will find their niche doing what Konrath's and Hocking's agents do: handling movie and foreign print rights deals.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/
Margo
 
Posts: 1712
Joined: 05 Apr 2010, 08:21

Re: Another Respected Agent Gets into EPublishing

Postby Margo » 25 Jul 2011, 18:55

Margo wrote:I actually wouldn't be surprised if some writers felt it was worth the 15% to not have to deal with certain things themselves.


I must be psychic. A writer just left that very comment. She'd rather give Jessica's company 15% than have to deal with hiring an editor, formatting the ms for the different sites, finding a cover designer, etc. This idea runs counterintuitive to people who are already self-publishing, but I think we're going to be seeing more people coming to self-publishing very reluctantly, people who don't really want to learn to do this themselves or figure out how to hire it out and what the services are really worth. If they want to pay a percentage rather than a one-time-fee...their choice. It's a lot of work, so I can't really blame someone for not wanting to have to learn about writing AND about self-publishing.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/
Margo
 
Posts: 1712
Joined: 05 Apr 2010, 08:21

Re: Another Respected Agent Gets into EPublishing

Postby Holly » 25 Jul 2011, 19:29

Margo wrote:
Margo wrote:I actually wouldn't be surprised if some writers felt it was worth the 15% to not have to deal with certain things themselves.


I must be psychic. A writer just left that very comment. She'd rather give Jessica's company 15% than have to deal with hiring an editor, formatting the ms for the different sites, finding a cover designer, etc. This idea runs counterintuitive to people who are already self-publishing, but I think we're going to be seeing more people coming to self-publishing very reluctantly, people who don't really want to learn to do this themselves or figure out how to hire it out and what the services are really worth. If they want to pay a percentage rather than a one-time-fee...their choice. It's a lot of work, so I can't really blame someone for not wanting to have to learn about writing AND about self-publishing.


Whether you go a traditional route or self-publish, crit partners and/or an editor should still look at your work. If a writer wants to give an agent 15% (forever, for that book) to hire a cover artist and a guy to format the book, so be it. I wouldn't do that unless I was in the Joe Konrath category with 40 titles. I could see paying somebody a one-time fee to handle the cover, the formatting, and download it on Amazon (which is VERY easy), but not take part of your profit forever. That's bamboozling naive writers, just my opinion. I think a lot of writers lack self-confidence and think they have to go through agencies, etc. or the whole process will lack validity.
User avatar
Holly
 
Posts: 500
Joined: 21 Dec 2009, 19:42
Location: Gettysburg, PA

Re: Another Respected Agent Gets into EPublishing

Postby Holly » 25 Jul 2011, 19:38

Margo wrote:I actually wouldn't be surprised if some writers felt it was worth the 15% to not have to deal with certain things themselves. The website did make it clear, though, that it wasn't 'forever'; it was for a limited and set term.


I missed that. My understand is that it is forever with some of these hybrid publisher-agencies, so if you're a writer and considering this, be careful.
User avatar
Holly
 
Posts: 500
Joined: 21 Dec 2009, 19:42
Location: Gettysburg, PA

Re: Another Respected Agent Gets into EPublishing

Postby Margo » 25 Jul 2011, 19:46

Holly wrote:Whether you go a traditional route or self-publish, crit partners and/or an editor should still look at your work.


Let's be honest, quality editorial services aren't as easy to find as people want to think. Most of the time, the crit group just doesn't cut it. And there are a LOT of people cashing in on self-published authors by calling themselves editors. Most agents have been involved in editing their clients' work for years. Is it worth a percentage, though? Not to me, but to some people apparently it is.

Holly wrote:That's bamboozling naive writers, just my opinion.


If they know what they're getting/giving up front, it's their choice. There are plenty of people saying traditional publishing is bamboozling writers too. In the end, we have to be adults and make and live with our own decisions. If we insist in making ill-informed decisions, we get what's coming to us. It's easy easy easy to learn. If a writer doesn't want to learn, it's no one else's fault.

Holly wrote: I think a lot of writers lack self-confidence and think they have to go through agencies, etc. or the whole process will lack validity.


Again, this plays too close to demonizing the industry for me. If someone wants to do it, let them make their own grown-up decision. It wouldn't be the right decision for you, but that doesn't make it the wrong decision for someone who's going in with eyes open.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/
Margo
 
Posts: 1712
Joined: 05 Apr 2010, 08:21

Re: Another Respected Agent Gets into EPublishing

Postby Holly » 26 Jul 2011, 03:57

Margo, of course you're right. People are free to make their own choices. Writers who believe the indie process is too complicated to go through without a manager might be surprised, though. This month I epublished a small project, found it wasn't difficult, and had tremendous fun. Project #2 goes up this week. I loved having a say about the covers instead of turning them over to people in a production department who don't have time to read my work. If it's not for you, by all means pay somebody to do it. I pay somebody to mow my lawn.
User avatar
Holly
 
Posts: 500
Joined: 21 Dec 2009, 19:42
Location: Gettysburg, PA

Re: Another Respected Agent Gets into EPublishing

Postby Holly » 26 Jul 2011, 06:56

One last thought. I absolutely agree with you that people make their own choices, but I don't know that I agree with you about the eyes wide open part. Maybe I'm wrong, but I believe most writers don't have a pile of extra money sitting around.

I've handled some complicated things, some more so than others -- bought a house, several cars, cell phones, computers, plane tickets, taken trips by myself in and out of the USA -- and with the exception of the house, where I had an agent, I didn't pay anybody a managerial fee.

There are disreputable car dealers out there, but most people buy cars by themselves and do fine. They ask for referrals and read up on it. Epublishing works the same way.

Most people who buy cars, cell phones, plane tickets, etc. handle it themselves. I've experienced a few bumps in the road the first time I did anything -- learned to drive, use a computer, etc. -- but after the first time, it was a lot easier. If I can buy a car without a managerial fee, then I can put a book on Amazon. People used to call a travel agent when they wanted to buy a plane ticket or reserve a hotel and that's gone by the wayside. It just isn't necessary. My two cents!
User avatar
Holly
 
Posts: 500
Joined: 21 Dec 2009, 19:42
Location: Gettysburg, PA

Re: Another Respected Agent Gets into EPublishing

Postby Margo » 26 Jul 2011, 07:22

One of the reasons I'm willing to think such an arrangement might suit some people (though maybe/maybe not this specific kind of arrangement) is that it is easy to self-publish. It is not easy to self-publish well.

If you haven't formatted the Word document correctly, the Kindle conversion won't work right. I ended up paying a small fee to someone to format the epub file for me after multiple failed attempts where everything except the title page took the correct formatting...over and over.

99% of the time, I can point out a book that is self-published just by looking at the cover, and that includes 'professional' covers. Most of them don't contain the symbolism we're using to seeing for the genre in question, or the use of space is obviously skewed, etc.

I won't get into the writing. Let's just say that plenty of authors could use developmental editors as well as copyeditors. Hell, if I have the means in future, I'll be dropping $2,500-3,000 per book in a heartbeat to have someone like Lisa Rector edit for me (plus the additional fee to have my current editor check my copy and give me her impression post-revision). I think you know I'm going about everything with open eyes.

I think, if we (self-published writers) are honest with ourselves, we know there are some things the traditional industry still does better (though we are improving). I don't think it's an indictment of self-publishing to acknowledge that it might do us some good to use their creative expertise even as we're radically reinterpreting their business practices.

I'm not freaking out over ideas like this one because I think the models are still evolving, at a pretty impressive pace. I doubt what Jessica was talking about here will be precisely what she ends up with.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/
Margo
 
Posts: 1712
Joined: 05 Apr 2010, 08:21

Re: Another Respected Agent Gets into EPublishing

Postby Margo » 26 Jul 2011, 08:41

Holly wrote:Maybe I'm wrong, but I believe most writers don't have a pile of extra money sitting around.


I just noticed a clarification in the comments on Jessica's blog. This is a no-money-up-front arrangement for the author. So the writer's too poor to come up with the money for a good cover (let alone the software for a DIY, fi they don't already have it), too poor to shell out $500-$1000 for a good self-pub editor...might end up being drawn to this kind of a deal because they don't have piles of money.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/
Margo
 
Posts: 1712
Joined: 05 Apr 2010, 08:21

Re: Another Respected Agent Gets into EPublishing

Postby Margo » 26 Jul 2011, 10:11

Bob Mayer, who had one of the more intelligent (and professional!) comments on Jessica's blog yesterday, blogged today on the idea of agents turning publishers:

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/should-your-agent-self-publish-you-can-your-agent-self-publish-you/
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/
Margo
 
Posts: 1712
Joined: 05 Apr 2010, 08:21


Return to All Things Publishing and Self-Publishing

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 1 guest