Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Should Agents Publish? (Writers Beware!)
AGENTS, ERR... PUBLISHERS...?
The answer to this question is a resounding don't even try to argue with me NO!
How can I say this when so many have neat little answers? Because it is like having your lawyer be your judge. In the last few months I have seen the book agent turn tail and not only abandon all ethics of their business, but chase the money like so many drowning rats. Am I being to harsh? Maybe, but I have good reason.
First, your agent has a job. That job is to get you a book deal with a real publisher, and after that to get Sub rights and so on... This job is like having a partner in your corner helping you so you don't get screwed over by a big money-hungry-publisher. NOW, as they turn into publishers they went from your friend and partner, to something resembling a wolf covered in a sheep skin. They make a deal for YOU but with THEIR interest in mind, not yours.
I know, they are good people, they rock, they are nice and have done so much for you and... and... and. It is all the same. A lame argument. And I have seen them all. It is to HELP authors in this changing market. We just provide a service, well... we have a different publishing house, it is not the same... Oh, and we can make sure you have good editing! Don't forget we know the book business!
I am sure you can name a few more, but in the end it is all about the money. Agents are scared, they don't know where their job is going, what will happen as more authors realize that they don't really need agents outside of Sub rights.
*Note: I want to say, I have no problem with a EX-Agent publishing, but not both at the same time. If you want to be a publisher do it, but don't do both.
I work with some of the top agents in the country. You know what they do for me? They do their job, and bring me authors and work with my existing authors to sell Sub rights. But most the time they are not on a book deal as the author can talk to me direct. So they have to work harder, but we all do, it is a job after all.
Now my friends, yes I am talking to you the writer, the one who has stars in your eyes. The one who will take a bad deal because all you want in life is to be published, so you let all reason go out the window. If your agent wants to be a ePublisher ask yourself one thing... What do they know about publishing? Really... what?
They sell books to a publisher, they are in sales. They sell to one-five people at a publishing house. How does that mean they have any skill in selling to the public? To bookstores, to make sure your cover art is good? How can they sell to the public when all they do is sell to a corporation? They, I am sorry to say don't know what books will sell, they just know what books they can sell to a publisher.
I am not discounting their power and pull, but do you see how all of the agents doing this are only going E for the most part? Cuz they don't want to work at the print side of the business, the marketing and distribution. So the end result is a well edited book (MAYBE) with little to no marketing and a bad cover and one super excited author that thinks they will make it big cuz their Publisher is somebody.
So here is what you will get:
*Bad cover art 90% of the time
*Good to fair editing
*Out of touch marketing or no marketing
*eBook only or POD printing
*No print distribution
*Good in with Sub rights (maybe)
lets call a horse a horse. They want a piece of the pie, want to do as little work as they can and pool from the list of authors they have in their pocket, for some easy cash. This is WRONG! In so many ways. I know how authors think, they will jump at almost anything without thinking of the long term. Give away their book all in the name of being published.
So what should you do?
First, do not ever sign up with a agent/publisher. No matter how nice they are, deep down your best interest is not at heart. Second, if you are at that place, just publish on your own and have your agent look for Sub rights. Only pay them when they make a deal. But you hire someone to convert your eBook and do a cool cover. I know a host of cover art people, eBook converters and so on. Most any indie press or author can help you out for free. You can do it for a low price and why give them a % when they offer nothing you can't on your own.
Or... find a small press to work with. I work my tail off for my authors and even behind the scenes I am trying to do even more. But I am a publisher... Do I post all this because I am scared they will take all the good authors? Lol... NO... We are so busy we can't really take on any more new authors this year. I say this cuz I see so many of my fellow authors getting burned and thrown into this mess and I feel for them.
On a side note, please run from these little so-called publishers that are popping up everywhere. Bad covers and poor quality will kill your brand if you are not careful. Just be smart and ask around and don't ask authors, ask people in the business or ask your agent who is not a publisher. One of out agents we work with told me the other day, he said he would never get into publishing, he is an agent, he is good at what he does and will not sell out his clients like that.
I respect him and am glad we still have some agents out there that really do care about their clients and don't talk themselves and others into thinking that this is all okay.
Now to end thins I will say that I know of some publishers that are agents part time. But they were publishers first and the work they do as an agent is for another house and they never refer clients to their own house. I also know of agents that quit and started publishing houses, I have no problem with this, as they are not riding the fence but made a choice.
I could go on and on about this but I leave it to you. What do you think? Why do you think it is okay or not okay? Do you see this as a long term solution to publishing? Why do you think agents should publish? What do they know about publishing outside of selling a title? As a writer do you trust them? Should you trust them?
Author Aaron Patterson: Blog: The Worst Book Ever.