June 23rd, 2011


In which your agent wears dueling hats

So.... I have a wee bit of a question for you guys-- one I'd like you to answer without me giving my own thoughts. I will, however, try to  get a balanced conversation going by playing devil's advocate on both sides and commenting back as needed. (Yeah, let's see how that pans out.... )

With the rapidly changing market, many agents and agencies are adapting.  And by "rapidly changing" I mean... the fastest growing side of the industry right now is ebooks and self-published authors-- many very succesful...and just as many not. I keep a very small client list and yet nearly a THIRD has expressed interest in self/e-pubbing in some capacity.

Some  agencies are opening up special departments/segments that will assist their clients in "self-publishing' their material. Some agencies actually front the costs of self-publishing (covers, editorial, formattingl..)  themselves, and then earn 15% of the sales, once their costs are recouped. Others simply allow clients to go self-publish with no input or commission at all. Some agents charge clients for their editorial input (a flat fee) and then the client gets 100% of the sales proceeds.

Sometimes an agent spends a year helping you revise, shaping the manuscript, and shopping it like crazy, and for whatever reason, it doesn't sell. If you then go self-publish it...do they deserve 15% of sales?

Being both an author AND an agent, I have many opinions. I intend to follow up with a post on that in the future-- but what I am most interested in right now is-- What do YOU think of an agent's role in the ever changing market? What do you think is fair? 

Publishers are adapting-- exploring no-advance models, exploring e-publishing only options, etc. Authors certainly are-- many ditching their traditional publishers for self-publishing, others finding success in self-pub and moving traditional. Yet agents are stuck in the middle-- there are so many things that they could potentially do and assist writers in a major way, but some of those things may leave writers crying foul over a potential conflict of interest.

So I am asking you, dear writers, to be honest. Comment anonymous if neccessary. How do YOU Think agents should change and adapt? What you are okay with...and what would cause you to steer clear of an agency?