Monday, July 25, 2011

Agencies with Separate Publishing Divisions

I got word recently that yet another agency has decided to set up a side-project to handle "ePublishing." This division will not serve (1) clients self-publishing themselves (no commission taken) or (2) clients who bring the agency ready-to-upload files that the agency then uploads and monitors for royalties/earnings (15% commission taken). It's for (3)clients for whom the agency will handle all aspects of the epublishing.

Sounds alright, right? That's got to be a lot of work!

Unless the agency has undergone some MAJOR personnel changes and hired cover designers and converters, the work of converting and designing the cover of the ebook will be done by outside freelancers.

AKA the agency has a list of a couple of people they know who convert books and/or design covers and they send your book to them, get it back a couple weeks later, then proceed as with client-type (2).

The agency has probably done extensive work on these projects, even the ones that are self-published, and even tried to sell it in many cases. They've certainly earned their 15%. But I'd be hard to convince that the agency is earning more than that 15%.

You should be hard to convince, too.

Ask a lot of questions before signing up for anything that involves more than a standard commission. Who's doing the work? Who's paying them? Get the facts, and you may feel that an increased commission is justified...or you might not.


  1. I just read an interesting post by Konrath where he says he'd gladly pay his agent more than 15% for handling translation for foreign markets. He's talking about kindle moving into India.

    I still feel that in time agents will charge more than 15% for the epublishing model. I respect you for your ethical stance, but perception will be that agents are doing more and it will only take a few agents to move the % for others to follow. I agree that writers should ask questions and educate themselves. There really is no excuse for not learning as much as we can about publishing.

    Do you think agents and authors can make more money not selling to the big publishers? With the right guidance, marketing and platform is there the potential to match and out do what a publisher will pay? Equal or less sales, but higher returns (?). I'm not in the camp that thinks traditional publishing is dead, but I wonder about the viability of the big publisher model. It could also be that I have no idea what I'm talking about ;)

  2. Agents already take extra commissions on the foreign deals they make--and on the royalties from sales in that country, so you're already paying your agent above and beyond their base 15% to handle translation.

    I think, unfortunately, that the answers to all of your questions is "In some cases." That's why having an agent, to know when to push and when to cut and run, is best.