Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Oh, all right. I'll bite.

So, there's this blog post over here that was pretty incendiary re: Agents and their "money grabs" with authors who are self-publishing and using the agency to do so.

It was a...something...enough blog post to make a bunch of agents really mad in a "NU UH!" Sort of way. Like in a way that just makes one shake one's head and think "you just. don't. get it."

One thing she said struck me as particularly "not getting it," here:
But they don’t know the right answers in self-publishing. There isn’t an agent out there that has the savvy that Bella Andre, Joe Konrath, and Amanda Hocking have in self-publishing. Not a one.

This woman points out that authors are talking about agents and "what they're doing." I wish authors would stop talking about their agents and start talking to them (just in general, actually)--ask questions about how things will be done and ask the agent to explain commission break-downs if there are increases. If nothing else, you have a good resource on this blog (here, here, here, here, and here on this topic, among others).

You have no excuse to not have intelligent questions on this process--ask them of your agent. And if you're feeling squeamish and, by god, if you feel like the agent you're talking to is a sleaze or a moron, go elsewhere. Or publish online yourself; we're lucky to exist in a world where that is totally possible.


Know also that knowledge of the self-publishing process is NOT step one. It's like Step .75. You get your book online and then what?

Amanda Hocking sold books by marketing books, and she researched marketing on Agent and Publishing Industry sites (and, by the way, is agented with a traditional book deal). All the moguls of self-publishing that people hold up as leaders of the MOVEMENT self-published and then spent thousands of hours, if not dollars, marketing the books.

If marketing is overlooked, whether you self-publish or you're going through an agency or ePublisher, there had better be marketing in place or all the "self-publishing savvy" in the world isn't going to get that book sold.

Agents know marketing. Just as many as are setting up publishing arms are setting up marketing initiatives to compliment them. And that is worth 15% just in and of itself.

It's an agent's full time job to deal with their clients' books, and it's not most author's full time jobs. It's a huge sacrifice that may never pay off, something, incidentally, that agents know well,
since we don't get paid until you do.


  1. I'm sure you've already seen this, but the author posted a (very, very lengthy) follow-up post in which she indicates her main issue is about conflict of interest. While I can see her point, she seemed to set up a very specific situation that I don't think all agencies with self-pub "branches" are doing (she emphasized having their "own publishing houses" and taking larger percentages). I was curious what you thought--when do you think there's a conflict of interest with self-pub and agencies--or is there no more risk here than in normal agenting practice?

  2. See this post for my opinion on when helping clients get online crosses the Ethics line:

    You'll need to read this one first for the best overall grasp on the issue:

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  4. Read this and the first thing that entered my mind was an article I'd read on self-publishing, Amanda Hocking and John Locke in Entertainment Weekly last week.

    It's rather harsh, but seriously underscores the need for an agent or editor if going the self-publishing route.,,20511512,00.html

  5. I cannot tell you how many self published books I've read and it is really hard to muscle through them. Editing or hiring an editor, if they go down that route, never goes out of fashion.

  6. I can't stand blanket statements like that. I met a bunch of amazing agents at Backspace and you know what, they know a lot about this industry. Most people pay good money for a good lawyer or tax accountant, why should your life dream be treated any different?

    A good agent is worth every penny.

  7. Eliza, when I think about self-publishing, I think about how much money I would need to spend for someone to help me with editing, formatting, marketing and public relations not to mention attorney's fees. That's a good chunk of change because while I could pick up a couple of those skill sets and learn enough to be dangerous in others, I wouldn't do any of those jobs as well as a professional.

    Add me to the long list of people who would love to have an agent.